There is beauty
in serving others
Monday, October 28, 2013 4:36 AM
With every article I write, there is sometimes a point when I ask myself, "Am I writing this to draw attention to the person in the story, or to myself?" There are great lessons to be learned from how I answer that question.
I enjoy being complimented on an article I've written. At the same time, I hope readers are more interested in learning about the people, events and issues covered in the stories. There is a large amount of news produced in this day that focuses too much attention on those delivering the news (see morning news shows, talk shows, etc.). It is easier to build celebrity when on television and sometimes that creates a distraction.
As for newspapers, most people don't even bother to know who wrote the article unless they really liked or hated it. If it wasn't for that ridiculous mug shot of me, in this space, my anonymity would be complete.
This column is the one space in this newspaper where I can truly be allowed to exercise selfish dominion over the words I write. Otherwise, I need to constantly be aware of the personal bias and words I use. I attempt to give up my opinions and views in order to tell the story in the way the person or people are telling it.
This attitude of selflessness toward journalism is something I try to incorporate into all aspects of my life. Being aware of my motivations, actions and attitudes moment-to-moment is important for me to be able to honestly say, "Yes, I am thinking about others. It's not about me."
I think we could all stand to evaluate our personal levels of selfishness and selflessness from time to time. Many social and political contentions we see around us in the world, nation and local communities could be solved if we continually strived to be more selfless.
Throughout the past year, I have had the blessing of reporting on many community stories which exemplify selflessness to a fantastic degree: Relay for Life, Stroll for Epilepsy, mission trips to Kenya and Tanzania, Eat for Equity, Habitat for Humanity and many more. All around us are good people doing great things for others. In each instance is a person or group who has chosen to forego their own wants in order to fulfill someone else's needs. In the process, they most likely discovered that focusing on the needs of others is what they wanted to do all along.
It's a paradox, but so are many of the things that make sense in this world. A similar paradox is experienced when a person feels like they are benefitting more than the person they are helping. Indeed, by forgetting ourselves and our ego in the service of others, we end up understanding ourselves better.
As I've been preparing to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I've developed a better understanding of the need to forego my wants and needs. I know this is true of any missionary work that seeks to serve others in physical and spiritual capacities. In order to become more mindful of and compassionate toward the people you are serving, you need to forget about yourself. However, you don't need to serve a mission in order to act like this.
There are opportunities to help others everywhere. In fact, we are probably confronted with opportunities to serve every day of our lives. How do we miss them?
First, we need to open our eyes and observe the world around us. When we do so, we can begin to pay more attention to our environment, forget ourselves and recognize people in need.
Second, we act. That's the tough part. Too many times have I recognized an opportunity to serve and either acted too late or rationalized that I couldn't help. It's frustrating! I think we sometimes assume people don't want help or would be offended if we step in. Perhaps we don't know the person and assume someone else will come along and help out. Maybe it's because we question our ability to help. Oftentimes, it's difficult to act by ourselves and easier to act in a group. All of these are real justifications we sometimes use and all can be overcome.
When we recognize someone who needs help or comfort, I hope for myself and for you to be able to move beyond those rationalizations for not helping and to just do it. You'll feel better and, more importantly, the other person may feel better and will want to pass on the goodwill.
We are drawing closer to the holiday season. Little by little, I hope we can each be a little more mindful of others. As I finish this column, I realize I need to be better at observing and serving. We can all help each other to be better. That's the beauty of serving.