“If I can help somebody as I pass along.
If I can cheer somebody with a word or a song.
If I can help somebody who’s traveling along, then my living shall not be in vain.”
As I pondered the topic of community service and giving back, I thought of that song. I thought of the audience who would be reading this blog. Many of whom are selfless people who give every day to help somebody. I thought of a group of people who work most days to serve others and give their energy to others when often they barely have enough energy for themselves. I thought of a group of professionals who provide service, support, and educational opportunities to populations which are often powerless and marginalized. A cohort who passionately strives to engage, empower and uplift those whose voices are often not heard. I thought of a group of professionals who work in fields that are sometimes underappreciated, on occasion under recognized and often, underpaid and yet they continue to give. How wonderful, what a blessing that our living is not in vain.
When I was a child, we sang that song in church, “If I can help somebody as I travel along the way, then my living shall not be in vain.” It didn’t mean much to me at the time, but now I understand that helping others is what makes life worth living. Dr. King once said that we all have the possibilities for greatness because we have the possibility for service. Anyone you can think of that is considered great is probably one who has served in one way or another. At the end of the day great people are people who have helped others. People who care only about themselves and their own needs are insignificant.
But so often, when we are helping, we stop seeing the good we are doing. We get caught in the politics and forget why we chose to do the things we do. We must fight to hold on to the pure desire to help and to improve conditions in our world, our neighborhoods, and our families. If you drop a pebble in the water, it causes a ripple effect. That should be the effect of helping others. We have to teach and learn the concept of “paying it forward”.
In addition to a desire to help, we also have a responsibility to give as we have been given. We all know the phrase with “great power comes great responsibility” or “to whom much is given, much is required”. This means we have a responsibility! If we have been Blessed with talent, knowledge, wisdom, or wealth, etc., we must use our gifts to benefit others. It is our responsibility to leave the world a better place for those who come behind us.
Mary Mcleod Bethune said in her last will and testament, “I leave you, finally a responsibility to our young – as our children must never lose their zeal to make a better world.” As responsible people, we must do that. We must rekindle the zeal and desire to learn and love and live together in our children and in our people. We are a people of hope with coping skills, faith and a strength that is unmatched by any other. We are a people who supported ourselves and our neighbors with what little we had. “We got by with a little help from our friends!”
If we can hold on to a zeal to make the world better, it will be infectious and we can give it to our communities, our neighbors and our children. For all that you are already doing, thank you. For all that you will do, thank you. For all that you will encourage others to do, thank you. Thank you for your resilience, thank you for your hope and thank you for being here every day.
Now, tell me, how do you help others?