Monday, April 17, 2006
A little more on service...
Service is nothing more than a form of giving. Maybe the best form of giving, but that's not to be debated here. One of my favorite books of all time is The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. I think I like it so much because it's short (matching my attention span) and very easy to understand. To me, the philosophy in it seems somewhat Existentialist with a touch of Buddhism, but is good for interpersonal relationships nonetheless. In this book one of my favorite chapters is on Giving.
"And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives. Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity..."
This isn't saying to accept without any gratitude nor is it suggesting that one should be a receiver or a gift without having any sense of debt, but rather to understand that giving and receiving should not be a contractual binding of giver and receiver in equal measure. Whether you equate it to the movie Pay It Forward or consider it your civic duty, everyone should experience being a giver and a receiver when the opposite is not reciprocated. It's nice to be appreciated for the effort and work you put into something but just because you may not be appreciated or thanked for something doesn't mean that it was any less of a good deed. And on the receiving end, to be the recipient of someone's kindness is a gift itself whether you realize it or not. You're giving them the opportunity to be of service so although one should be aware of the need to give back, you should not "be overmindful of your debt" to the giver. I've had people who are indeed thankful for help I've given them on projects and they repeatedly thank me and ask how they can repay me for my kindness, but all I want is for them to say a simple sincere thank you and be willing to repay it with their own effort somewhere else in likewise manner. If I need help, perhaps one day I'll be the recipient of it. If not, I'll continue giving regardless.
Another example of this is in the Bible. John 13:4-17 shows us how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. This man was their teacher, their mentor, and the washing of feet was a lowly task given to servants so for Jesus to humble himself was an example servanthood he wanted his followers to emulate.