“Aude Aliquid Dignum” ~ Dare Something Worthy

“An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Every person must decide, at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ’What are you doing for others?’”

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


It’s not very often people come around that can throw a light on the broader concerns of humanity in such a way to lift you onto the shoulders of giants so you may see more clearly the way ahead. When this happens, take good notes. Stick them on your refrigerator door so you cannot forget. Then busy yourself preparing the way for others, because it is in others our life is lived. And if we have lived any length of time at all, we must come to terms with Dr King’s profound question, “What are you doing for others?” But, how?

I believe most would agree Martin Luther King Jr’s question is just as pressing today as when he first asked it in 1957. In many regards, perhaps his question is more urgent than ever before. As we celebrate his legacy, I find it particularly important to ask ourselves, “What are we doing to teach our children to help others?” Much of western society lives in an era of entitlement where “me” means everything. And, why not? With a little skill and a Lot of luck, you can become an entertainer, a professional athlete, or America’s next Idol, claiming for yourself much fame and great fortunes. But to what end? The toys you accumulate and the fortunes you amass gotta stay here when you exit stage left. And what comes to those who do not achieve their dreams (or their parents’ dreams) of glory, stardom, and riches?

My friend, John Paul, reminds us, “Humanity is an ocean. All are welcome and the door is always open.” Those who realize all living creatures within this vast ocean domain matter are likely found in front of a mirror each morning asking themselves Dr King’s “most persistent and urgent” question. We can be grateful so many have responded by getting involved. We see it in every corner of our world. Some have written inspirational tomes to help engage communities in service; we see proof of their success in articles, blog posts, and tweets on twitter. Some have written and/or sung songs to inspire. Singer/songwriter Schuyler Fisk, Sissy Spacek’s daughter, is a great example, having just penned and released “Love Somebody,” with proceeds going to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Others busy themselves with words of praise or acts of kindness (some large, some small, all heroic) day to day while others reach a little farther, knowing the good of one can inspire the great good of thousands.

Herein we find those who dare something worthy—to serve another rather then dominate them. Turns out, great men and women have eyes to see the smallest, seemingly insignificant opportunity overlooked by those preoccupied with self importance. Service comes in many colors, shapes, and sizes, and it draws its strength from compassion. It does not turn others away. To the contrary, a servant’s heart seeks out the downtrodden to help lift life’s burdens. An online search returns thousands of organizations reaching out to help and/or inspire others. In this post, we will feature three relatively new, grassroots organizations that readily come to mind:

Do Good “unites individual acts of kindness into a significant movement. every day. across the world. 365 days.”

Charity: water brings “clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations.”

Foyble encourages people “to perform acts of goodwill. Share your good deeds. Inspire the world.”

Of course, all of us have heard of others like the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the United Way. So, what is the message?

In simplest terms, our service comes in many forms and it is offered through every deed of mercy toward anyone who may need what we have to offer. From where I stand, the good we do runs deep and wide, often in obscurity, rarely seeking accolades or recognition, and always performing acts of loving kindness known only to those who have received them. And I am left with the impression we want to do more. That’s why the NorthFork Center for Servant Leadership is working with Brian Foy, a co-founder of Foyble, and Chad Sansing of the Community Public Charter School in Charlottesville, Virginia, to shine a light on the servant heart through all the good we do AND all the good we will do. Especially, all the good we will do! Among other things, we are collaborating to create what will be an amazing community service curriculum that trains administrators, teachers, and students in the power of social media used for good. We are also creating ways to cultivate servant hearts around the globe and recognize the good our young people do all the time through acts of kindness and goodwill. Chad, on his site, classroots.org, wrote of this collaboration in a recent post, “Match Classroom Technology to Good.” You can find it here. Brian’s post on developing a service curriculum aligned to national standards for teachers and students, can be found here.

Do join us as we dare something worthy. Anytime one sets out to satisfy, no matter how small, “life’s most persistent and urgent question” it is certain to be an exciting ride!

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18 Responses to “Aude Aliquid Dignum” ~ Dare Something Worthy

  1. This post is so inspirational! It prompts me to ask myself Dr. King’s profound question over and over, and do, do, do. Thank you for the strength your article imparts!

  2. Tabitha says:

    Dr. Jack, this is an excellent article! I ask myself daily how can I help others and I ask God to guide me to those who need me. If each of us chose to live with a servant’s heart just imagine the good we could achieve.

    You inspire me my friend!!

  3. Awesome post as always Jack. :-) I am such a big believer in everyone doing their part to make their little (or big) corner of the world better. Just think what our world would be like if we all did that?!

    The examples and ideas you share are great starting points for the “exciting ride”. a ride we think we are taking to help someone else. But in the end, we are the ones who gain more than words can describe.

    Thank you. :-)
    Sarah

  4. Dear Jack ~ There are no accidents ~ This very thought of “action” in serving others has been on my mind so much lately. And your quote of Dr. Martin Luther King’s about “what are you doing for others” is the crux of what we should ask ourselves everyday. The time is now for us all to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty ~ the result IS contagious and uplifting. You are quite the writer, Jack. Very, very good and thank you for sharing. love, nannette

  5. Bill says:

    Jack,

    Congrads on getting this started. I believe we as a world have lost our focus, we try to do everything faster to make more money & forget that people need time to just be! I believe in heart that the good in the world far outweighs the bad but unfortunately the news is filled with only the bad. Together we can change the world within our lifetime through the act of love. If we all lift our hearts to love a little more the world will be an even more amazing place.

    Thanks,

    Bill
    (@Timberwolf123 on twitter)

  6. Avis Ward says:

    Very inspirational and exceptionally well-written to the heart of anyone with a pulse. I am so inspired by the magnitude of what you’ve reiterated until I feel as if I am not doing enough! Wonderful initiatives, Jack, and my prayers are with you and the team of servant leaders with whom you work. Thank you for being a megaphone to the needs of our youth and recognizing their good deeds.

  7. Name (required) Zoe Dawes says:

    Very powerful, thought-provoking post Jack. I appreciated your refs to other help agencies and for the impetus to think more deeply about how to truly make a difference.
    Zoe

  8. John McClung says:

    Great post Jack. Thanks for writing it and bringing it to my attention.
    There is always more to do and as many different ways to help and contribute as there are contributors. Thats why for me, even though Dr. King’s statement provide great inspiration, clarity come from your statement: “From where I stand, the good we do runs deep and wide, often in obscurity, rarely seeking accolades or recognition, and always performing acts of loving kindness known only to those who have received them.”
    Those that do what they can, when they can are always the true heroes.
    Thanks again!

  9. Jack, great post, as always!! I love how you bring attention to grassroots efforts. I think sometimes people want to embrace servant leadership, but they get caught up in the thought of “what can I do…all by myself – how can one person make a difference?” Someone like MLK, Jr doesn’t come along every day…but every act of leadership doesn’t need to be that grand. It simply takes one person who is intentional about serving others first, and then they WILL make a difference. BRAVO!

  10. Eliz Weiland says:

    This highlights to me how out of balance we’ve all gotten. That the following are all opposites: having fun and working, being altruistic and making money, being creative versus being productive. No! A true life integrates all these things. To have creative, joyful work that makes something good in the world. This is why I am an advocate of social entrepreneurship. To me, this integration is what we all seek in life. I am so blessed to share these goals with you, Jack.
    love,
    Eliz

  11. I agree with Erin, Jack, that it’s great that you point out that change doesn’t need to be something done on a large scale; that real change can be made just by focusing on our sphere of influence, on those around us who are impacted by our efforts and presence.

    It might only be a pebble tossed into the water, but if we all tossed one pebble in, it’s not hard to imagine how much bigger that ripple of change will become.

    Great piece, Jack. Thanks for sharing for your thoughts. :)

  12. Roy Atkinson says:

    Jack, you’ve cut through to the essence of it. As one of my tweets has it, “If each of us holds up a little bit of the world, it will weigh none of us down.” These are the kinds of efforts I had in mind.

    Erin has it—”Someone like MLK, Jr doesn’t come along every day.” But maybe someone does come along every day who asks the big questions and makes their life the answer.

    Thanks for the terrific post.

  13. John Haydon says:

    Jack – great post!

    My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, teaches that in order for people to actualize peace, they must overcome the “lesser self”. The “me” you mention is important, but not all encompassing. Ikeda argues that we must fix our gaze on the greater self – the part of all of us that recognizes the humanity in all people.

    In my own life, I find that being oriented towards others, actually gives me greater power to accomplish my own personal goals. And I believe nature intends us to live as Boddhisatvas. That’s why it feels so damn good to do a good deed.

    But as you suggest, we live ina culture that supports a false dichotomy of “me” and “them”.

  14. Monica Diaz says:

    I just love this post as I love every interaction with you on Twitter! If anyone can teach the power of being kind it is you, my friend! A gentle yet all-encompassing power. I especially appreciate the fact here that you end saying that “Anytime one sets out to satisfy, no matter how small, “life’s most persistent and urgent question” it is certain to be an exciting ride!” So many times we feel our kindnesses pale in comparison to those of great leaders like Martin Luther King, yet the difference we make everyday counts for a lot. It is there that we will be able, collectively, to change the world. I appreciate your efforts, commend you for promoting servant leadership…I am listening, I am moving forward!

  15. Hi Jack,

    This was such an awe-inspiring post! Thank you. My comment echoes Tabitha’s from earlier today, that I just hope to be guided by God to the people that I might help, might be of use to. Yes, if we all had a servant’s heart, this world would be utterly amazing!

    Carolyn

  16. Deb Bruser says:

    Jack…this is such an inspiring post. One of top ten quotes, too, by MLK!
    Change always starts with you, me, and everyone else that posted here today…with the individual! There is a HUGE sense of entitlement in the U.S., and unfortunately, “the me” syndrome abounds, as well. However, I have been in awe of how we come together when there exists great tragedy in our communities or across the globe. It truly makes my heart sing.

    I love what you are posed to do with Servant Leadership and social media and our younger generation. The plan speaks to me and what I wish was happening everywhere. If children or young adults have not learned it from their parents or community of faith, then it truly becomes a mandate for schools to pickup the ball and ROLL with it. (Sarah could insert a song here :-) )
    So, congratulations on putting these relevant pieces together and taking a HUGE step to help our children become the servant leaders that we need.
    (((HUGS)))
    deb

  17. Jenna Blake says:

    Jack, What a fantastically well-written post! It hits my heart just at the time when I have felt the call to do something a little bit bigger to reach out. I have always believed my daily interactions, daily kindness, and the way I mother my children are a worthy contribution; but I have also believed that I am called to do something more.

    A young boy who has grown up moving around in foster care, is currently on house arrest, and I believe stole some items out of my unlocked car recently spurred my latest urge to REALLY ACT. I told him that he could overcome his past and do something better with his life than he is right now. His response–”like what?”–went straight to my soul. What can a child with little hope do to overcome and dream bigger? I decided that I could set out to help a lot of lost youth to answer the question “like what”?

    Your post is reconfirmation that beginning in my own way is my challenge and my calling. Thank you!

  18. Thank you for the challenge you present in this well-written, thought-provoking post, Jack. Too often we compare ourselves to what others are doing and feel our contribution pales in comparison to what others are doing. Every conscious act to make a positive difference in another’s life counts. As Tanveer said so well, the ripple effect of these combined efforts can be enormous. This post is a loving gift, and I appreciate your sharing those 3 grassroots organizations. I wasn’t aware of them.

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