I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.
— Albert Schweitzer
A man died and was transported to hell. He was surprised to find hell a beautiful place, except that all the people there were emaciated. He went to the dining hall and saw that even though the food was plentiful, everyone’s health was bad. He then found that the inhabitants had been given long-handled ladles to use while eating. This was such an awkward way to eat that hardly any food reached their mouths. As a result, they were starving.
After several meals in hell, the man was suddenly transported to heaven. He was overjoyed. But when he went to the dining hall he found that the same ladles were used there. However, everyone looked happy, healthy and well-fed. Then he noticed that instead of trying to feed themselves, the inhabitants were serving each other with these ladles.
The people in hell were shrouded in clouds of selfishness and couldn’t think of helping each other, the way people in heaven were doing. We’ve become a culture of me, me, and me. Social Darwinism is killing social alliances that have been fostered by generations. True fellowship lies in service. Service is an offspring of love and compassion. The marvellous thing about compassionate fellowship is that once a distressed person feels that somebody cares about him, he is often able to begin caring more about others.
Love liberates love: it is as direct and miraculous as that.
Working for the less cared for gives us inner strength. Deep in our hearts, most of us yearn to be useful, and hope that we can wipe away a few tears, because we know the joy which this simple act generates. You can have all the wealth and the health in the world, but unless you do something for your brethren, you can never achieve real happiness. No number of hormones can produce that natural verve of ecstasy. This quality is the distilled essence of what it means to be human.
Mother Teresa felt that the hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. Speaking of herself, she said, “It is His work. I don’t claim anything of the work; I am like a little pencil in his hand. That is all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. “John Ruskin also echoes the same tone: “It is not written, blessed is he that feedeth the poor, but he that considereth the poor. A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.”
The motto of the world’s pioneer social service organisation, Rotary International, is worth quoting too: “He perfects most who serves best.”
Self-sacrifice is also inherent in the ideal of service.
If one concentrates on selfless service to others, this duty can become a deity and keep our hearts and minds pure and clean. In whatever station of life, we are placed, we can do this. These acts infuse unambiguous joy in the human clay. It is classless and creedless.
Working for the poor gives us inner strength. It energises the “feel good” hormones so that we feel love and joy pulsing through. When we reach out to others, we learn of a universal human hunger—to be needed. It makes us become more accepting, less judgmental and kinder to ourselves and others. We must understand that without acompassion his world will become a bleak place where nothing mattes. That should be an horrifying thought!.