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:
• 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!