Morality Service Solutions

The Three Virtues of Service: More Than Just Doing What You Love

June 2, 2015
planet ios

Being of service is empowering to each and every one of us. The more we are of service; the better we become at being of service; the better we feel about ourselves; the better we feel about others; the better our outlook on life, on society, and on our collective futures; the more we become morally and economically viable; the more we value ourselves. Service is a self-perpetuating cycle of emotional, economic, and social power.

Through my acts of service, I thereby demonstrate my extrinsic value to others, as well as build intrinsic value within myself. I feel my personal value swell as I act in service to others. Experiencing their gratitude, I am, myself, validated, buoyed, and empowered. I become more than I was before. By focusing on the needs of others, I actualize myself through service.

When I know I can do something to help someone—when I have learned to be an expert at providing a service, or even have simply improved my existing abilities to serve—I thereby feel welcomed and valued by society. I feel I am of value to others; and I feel I have value within myself. I know I can make a difference. I know I can help. I have power.

When I know I can do something to help someone—when I have learned to be an expert at providing a service, or even have simply improved my existing abilities to serve—I thereby feel welcomed and valued by society. I feel I am of value to others; and I feel I have value within myself. I know I can make a difference. I know I can help. I have power.

Conversely, the feeling of powerlessness from not being able to serve—from not having a skill, not knowing what to do, not knowing how to help, not knowing how to be of service to others; or from being forced into a position of having to deliver some service to which I am not drawn, for which I am ill-equipped or ill-suited, or simply cannot stand to perform—creates a vicious cycle of despair, fear, envy, hatred of others, and hatred of ourselves. We become lost without hope because we do not know our place, our role, our value within society. We begin to resent our powerlessness; and we begin to resent others who are able to demonstrate power through service. Our jealousy of those who serve well and enjoy their service obstructs and hobbles our own ability to serve; and we become bitter, impotent, and unfulfilled. Our cynicism moves us to fear; fear to greed; greed to contempt; contempt to hate; hate to anger; anger to violence. Our social contract is shattered, only to be replaced by envy, usury, and avarice.

Our social contract demands that we serve; and to serve well, we need to identify what we can do to provide that service in the best possible way.

Knowing my particular role in society helps me understand the expectations of service placed upon me through the social contract we all share, expectations both from myself and from others. My social role is to somehow serve; and to the extent I improve my ability to play that role, I am socially and personally successful. The more I can do, the more I am valued. The more I am valued, the more I value myself. The more I value myself, the more I may become the person I should become through service to others…and the happier and more fulfilled I am as a result.

We should all strive to find our unique roles in society. Our social contract demands that we serve; and to serve well, we need to identify what we can do to provide that service in the best possible way. It is my duty—and in my own self-interest, as well as society’s better interest—to find the best way for me to serve. In order to do that, I must fulfill three essential virtues: 1) My service should be significant; 2) I should be good at it; and 3) I should like doing it.

If all three Virtues of Service are met, then my service is bound to be a success. For if what I do helps society in some significant way, then I have fulfilled my duty of service. And if I am good at it, then society will benefit even further because of my skill, ability, and prowess. And if I also enjoy doing it, I will be more likely to continue providing that service at a high level of quality and commitment; and I will be happier, more personally fulfilled, and more likely to cooperate with and support the society in other ways, too.

The Three Virtues of Service codify what has been sometimes paraphrased as “do what you love (DWYL), and you’ll never work another day in your life.” While this pithy aphorism certainly catches the spirit of service, it does not go far enough to inject meaning and significance into the equation. As well, as Miya Tokumitsu points out in her Slate article, In the Name of Love, our ability to simply choose to do what we love in our current socioeconomic system is somewhat of a luxury, only reserved for those fortunate few who don’t need the money from their work to survive, and who can simply try on any given career like they might try on a new silk suit or dress, then try on another one until they find just the perfect outfit to wear to the Grand Ball.

Our challenge, therefore, is to transform our society and economy such that we finally recognize the power of not simply doing what we love, but of fulfilling the Three Virtues of Service.

Certainly, this is the essential stumbling block to the DWYL philosophy. Our current society simply does not embrace it, nor does it support it. Neither do we tend to end up doing what we love as a general working population, but our economic system bears no interest whatsoever in our loving what we do at all. The dispassionate bottom line cares not for emotions or motivations: only results. It simply measures productivity, costs, profits, and stock price. The only emotion it cares for is “happy” shareholders.

Our challenge, therefore, is to transform our society and economy such that we finally recognize the power of not simply doing what we love, but of fulfilling the Three Virtues of Service. A society filled with happy, capable, self-actualizing workers who love their socioeconomically beneficial service, and who have a vested interest at being as good as possible at it, would be a highly productive, successful, sustainable economic and social system capable of greatness from many avenues and directions our current society is unable to offer or achieve. We need to understand the vast amount of waste our current socioeconomic model generates by virtue of stifling untapped creativity and squandering undeveloped productivity hidden amongst our people by forcing us into performing mundane tasks we hate for our entire adult lifetimes, as we pine and long for the road not travelled.

Building a society in which we all pursue, learn, develop, perfect, and share our genuine talents and interests will engender a healthier, more sustainable, more productive, and more enjoyable life for everyone.

Of course, not all jobs or tasks can be so rich and fulfilling as to provide each and every one of us that perfect career choice that fits us like a thousand dollar suit. “The world needs ditch-diggers, too,” as Ted Knight’s character, Judge Smails says in Caddy Shack. But that does not mean that we must cast people into those stagnant, dead-end roles by necessity and for their entire lives. But certainly, we can develop a system whereby each and every one of us temporarily shares the burden of performing those essential, yet menial tasks required to simply keep the gears of society turning. A sort of “chore sheet” for society. Everyone takes a turn taking out the trash, washing the dishes, and dusting and vacuuming the house. But everyone also gets a chance to pursue their dreams, too.

In our new “ends-based” economy, compulsory social service, which would include both military and civilian roles, would become a standard practice. After which, we would each be able to pursue our interests to develop our chosen vocation, whatever that might be. A guaranteed basic income and continuing education would be provided without financial burden to every citizen and student, to ensure no debt or distraction of worldly need impedes our quest for self-actualizing service.

Building a society in which we all pursue, learn, develop, perfect, and share our genuine talents and interests will engender a healthier, more sustainable, more productive, and more enjoyable life for everyone. We just need to finally understand how much better it could be, and then begin to move ourselves and our world in that better direction.

~Brian Scott Archibald
Excerpts from In Our Service: Moral Action in an Ends-based Society

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