Marking a Day of Service

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that you cannot sincerely try to help another without helping yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.” Joseph Campbell

If every American donated five hours a week, it would equal the labor of 20 million full-time volunteers.” Whoopi Goldberg

“The idea is not to see through one another… But to see one another through.” C.D. Jackson

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” The Lorax

As the nation gets ready to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday with a day of service, I hope you will take advantage of some of the lessons our students at The Children’s School are learning about serving others — walking the walk instead of just talking the talk. “Just Do Something” is a phrase you might hear around TCS. We are being taught to be problem finders first, and then problem solvers. They are being taught that it is not enough to just talk and understand the great problems in their world, but that they are expected to be a part of the solution. It will truly take all our minds and talents and many hands to build a future full of peace, love, acceptance, and equity. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Service or active compassion is really the perfect storm resulting from empathy, gratitude, and purpose colliding and coalescing in a person’s life.

Empathy, stepping into someone else’s shoes, means putting aside our preconceived notions about people and opening our hearts and minds to listen and learn about what their life is like – stepping outside of our own comfortable box. For instance, some children tend to think that homeless people are all “crazy,bad people” and that they did something to deserve their current living situation. In class, we talk about those generalizations and how harmful they can be because 1) we make assumptions that might not be true about someone (judging a book by its cover) and 2) the generalizations may keep us from acting on our compassion and serving those in need. We talk about other groups of people that tend to have harmful assumptions made about them – people with disabilities (mental, physical, emotional, or learning), people of races or cultures different than our own, the elderly, people of different socio-economic classes than our own, people with different family structures than our own, etc.

Gratitude helps us to notice our many “haves” instead of focusing on our “don’t haves”. This intentional shift of focus makes us more joyful, less whiney and more willing to give to and help others.

Purpose, or meaningful work, is something we all search for in life. It restores hope, gives us goals to strive for, brings joy, and starts a cycle of giving and receiving Ba-BOOM-Bas that is life changing.

It is only as we enter into service of others, which requires time spent with/for others, that we can actually start to understand another person’s world and step outside of our own box. Our focus is outside of ourselves. And as we reflect on the experience, we gain new knowledge and understanding about ourselves and others in an experiential way not available to us through the classroom and book learning.

So, what will you and your family Just Do this MLK,Jr. day? How will you serve others throughout 2015?

KathyRoberts_ CounselorBy Kathy Roberts, Counselor at The Children’s School