The Power of Serving Others by Gary Morsch and Dean Nelson
What am I here for? This book assumes that people are asking themselves this question as they search for meaning and purpose in their lives. The answer this book suggests is service. As philosophers, religious figures, and scientists have all suggested, true power and purpose are found in serving others. “It’s about serving others-looking at others as people who could use a hand. It’s about looking at our hands and realizing that they already contain what others need.” This book expands and explains the belief that serving others, regardless of motivation, provides meaning to life.
Ask the Question
“The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others” (Joseph Campbell).
In Leo Tolstoy’s short story What Men Live By, three eternal questions are asked and answered:
1. What is given to men? Love is given to all people, and dwells in their hearts.
2. What is not given to men? People are not given the knowledge of their own needs.
3. What do people live by?
The answer to this last, striking question? “Love for others is what we are to live by.”
We lives primary on the love others have for us, and we live by the love we give to others. In What Men Live By, the fallen angel Michael mentions how whenever humans acted selfishly, the “stench of death” spread around them, coming from their mouths, but when they served others “death no longer dwelt” with them and they “had become alive.” Like the scriptures say, Life is found when we forget about our own.
Think of Life as a formula rather than a state of existence. Being “alive” and existing are NOT synonymous. Consider viruses. They do in fact exist but are not “alive.” In the Matrix (forgive me for bringing it up, but this is me letting my thoughts run), Agent Smith compares humanity to a virus because humans destroy a host (area) and then move on to another region, like viruses. My brother once concurred with this statement, criticizing humanity for environmental destruction, homicidal abuse of each other, war and invasion, etc… Indeed, at a macroscopic level, this view seems predominately accurate.
However, lives are not lived at a macroscopic scale. Humans correspond with one another at a micro level. This comparison to a disease disregards all actions of creation, innovation, and preservation. Giving the waiter an extra tip, babysitting the neighbors’ kids for free, visiting nursing homes, fundraisers, tutoring, raising kids, providing for a family – these are hardly the actions of a disease! But they are small.
Life is small.
Life is an individual’s decision to not act like a plague or a parasite. Being “alive” is validating your existence. I wrote once in a school assignment that “the happiest people are the ones most love, and the ones most loved love the most” (A Letter from Heaven). A thought that is adjacent to this: “Being ‘alive’ requires one to make his existence imperative to the Life of another” – to validate your existence.
Morsch suggests three ideas that are in some ways the Bill of Rights for human kindness:
1. Everyone has something to give.
2. Most people are willing to give when they see the need and have the opportunity.
3. Everyone can do something for someone right now.
He spends the rest of the book expanding on these three ideas.