half a cat

What's bloody and has two legs? Half a cat.

Friday, March 31, 2006

the fabric

Can compassion and service be learned? It possible to form a habit of kindness, of contribution to ones community, of love? If so, how does this occur? Where do we start?

There has been much discussion lately, from several different individuals and arenas in my life, on this very topic. It's been a topic of contemplation for me-- what can I and should I do? If I can only contribute a very little, is it even worth the effort? How can I give more, what is worth the sacrifice, which institution is most deserving of my time?

On Tuesday we had a visiting Chancellor, Dr. Gee, address BYU from Vanderbilt University. He is a past president of Ohio State, West Virgina, and Brown University. His address was titled, "Everything I Know about Being Mormon I Learned from Running Universities." It was a great address, I encourage you to read it. What he said, in sum, is that we are a people of peace and knowledge. It is our lifelong mission to be bearers of peace and bringers of knowledge in whatever sphere we find ourselves. We are no longer a people of Utah, but a worldwide people who can come together and make a difference. And this does not only affect members of the Church, but anyone who has ever partaken of a piece of this world. We cannot sit idly by and watch the world pass by us. We have an obligation to take an active part in influencing this world, somehow, positively.

So, not as a Mormon, but as a piece of the fabric of this world, what can I do to bring peace and knowledge? As a participant, I have this responsibility, as do you.

My sphere of influence is small. I don't have the resources to save Darfur, but I can send a letter to someone who can. I can't open a homeless shelter, but I can pay my taxes and volunteer. I'm not able to parent a child whose real parents are uninterested and uneducated, but I can share a moment with the child, hold them, love them and teach the parents how to do the same.

I also have read a book recently, The Greatest Discovery by Chris Sorensen, which discusses contributions to our family. I wouldn't recommend the book, it's poorly written, but some of its ideas are worth considering. This book suggested, and I completely agree, that the greatest contribution we can make is within the family. Afterall, families are the "building blocks" of society. And so, to answer my first question, my family is the institution where I will spend most of my time and effort.

I can volunteer time, I can educate, I can love, I can serve with my hands and heart. These small differences, these small moments of tenderness and compassion and kindness, will weave peace into the fabric, and the more of us who reach out within our families and communities, the stronger the fabric will be.

3 Comments:

  • At 7:52 AM, Blogger Brittney said…

    I really enjoyed your entry, and I agree what you say about the family. When I was in my Sociology classes, my preofessors would discuss the social problems in the world, and how the governemnt needs to fix them (the preofessors are all communists/socialists), but every problem I thought could be solved first in the family. I do believe the biggest affect on our world today is the family. The best service you can do is first within the family! Once our family unit is doing okay, then we can concentrate on fixing everything else.

     
  • At 1:45 PM, Blogger Caroline said…

    I enjoyed this post immensely and I especially liked your analogy that compared our community to a piece of fabric. It's wonderful to think of our country---even our world---as an inter-connected community of human beings. Even people who live on the opposite side of the world (in Hungary, in Iraq, in Mongolia, in Sudan) are connected to me and you because we are all siblings created by the same deity.

    Like you, I also wonder about how I can contribute to this fabric, especially how I can help repair the rips and tears. Most of the time I feel like I am trying to sew a tear that is a mile wide with only my measly needle and thread. I think it's important though to not give up hope. I may not be able to create peace in Darfur, but I can do whatever I to spread awareness of the genocide and to lobby Congress.

    If we want to make our world a better place, I think it starts within our immediate spheres of influence---within our families, within our group of friends, within our local communities. And perhaps what's most important is to have the willingness to serve. I truly believe that if our hearts and minds are willing to serve, then the Spirit will be more apt to guide us to those who need our help. I definitely look up to you J for your willingness to serve and to do whatever you can to help those around you. Bravo!

     
  • At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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