LIFE’s LESSON – November 2013


By Henrylito D. Tacio

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” said Mahatma Gandhi, the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. “The successful man doesn’t use others, other people use the successful man, for above all the success is of service,” noted American writer Mark Caine.

American poet Emily Dickinson has penned some lines about service: “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain,” she wrote. “If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”

In 1908, Eugene V. Debs delivered one of the most eloquent speeches. “Now my friends,” he said, “I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life.

“We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man.

“Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.”

Life’s LessoNs

The American union leader, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World, continued his speech: “Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death.”

“Giving kids clothes and food is one thing but it’s much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important, and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people,” said Dolores Huerta, a labor leader and civil rights activist.

Hannah More, an English religious writer and philanthropist, says that even a smallest act you do is a great service to the person who receives it. “One kernel is felt in a hogshead; one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire help to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act,” she points out.

When you serve others, do it with open heart and gladness. A businesswoman stopped at a coffee shop and ordered a cup of coffee. The waitress grudgingly delivered it and asked, “Anything else?”

“Yes,” said the businesswoman. “I’d like some sugar, cream, a spoon, a napkin, and a saucer for the cup.”

“Well, aren’t you the demanding one,” snapped the waitress.

“Look at it from my point of view,” said the businesswoman. “You served a cup of coff ee and made fi ve mistakes.”

Just want kind of service did the waitress render?

Compare the above story with this one related by Fulton Oursler. This has been told many times so might have heard or read it somewhere. This illustrates that in some instances the service you may render to others may bring you to a higher position in life.

One stormy night, an elderly man and his wife entered the lobby of a small hotel in Philadelphia. The couple had no baggage.

“We know that all the places are filled up,” said the man. “But can you possibly give us a room here?”

The clerk replied that there were three conventions in town, and there are no more accommodations anywhere.

“Every guest room is taken,” he explained. “But still I simply can’t send a nice couple like you out into the rain at one o’clock in the morning. Would you perhaps be willing to sleep in my room? Oh, I’ll make out just fi ne; don’t worry about me.”

The next morning, as he paid his bill, the elderly man said to the clerk: “You are the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I’ll build one for you!”

The clerk laughed. And he laughed again when, after two years had passed, he received a letter containing a round-trip ticket to New York and a request that he called upon his guest of that rainy night.

In the metropolis, the old man led the young clerk to the corner of Fifth Avenue and Thirty-Fourth Street and pointed to a vast new building there, a palace of reddish stone, with turrets and watchtowers, like a castle from fairyland cleaving the New York sky. “That,” the declared, “is the hotel I have just built for you to manage.”

As if hit by lightning, the young man, George C. Boldt, stood fixed to the ground. His benefactor was William Waldorf Astor and the hotel, the most famous of its day, the original Waldorf-Astoria.

Nathan C. Scheaffer asks: “At the close of life, the question will be not how much have you got but how much have you given? Not how much have you won but how much have you done? Not how much have you saved but how much have you sacrifi ced? It will be how much have you loved and served, not how much were you honored?”

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