This is part four in an eight-part series based on the U.S. Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. The reader will no doubt discover that these tenets carry over into all facets of life and are not limited to military service.
If you are a fan of the TV show “Star Trek”, you will of course recognize the quote, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one.” This sentiment embodies the notion of selfless service most elegantly. It’s just that simple: put the welfare of others well above your own. But it’s not easy.
If you have ever stayed up all night with a crying baby then dragged yourself to school to face a classroom full of students, you know something about selfless service. It’s all about them and not about you. If you have ever worked a job at odd hours solving one crisis after another only to come home to the chaos in your own home, you know something about selfless service. Peace comes at a price, and it’s not cheap. If you have put your heart, mind, and soul into a collaborative project or a team effort and then claimed absolutely no credit for yourself, you also know something about selfless service. It’s not about the individuals, it’s about the individual sacrifices that were made. Yes, it is your job to do these things, but many many people depend on you to do it over and over again, all the while you expect nothing in return.
Selfless service is about caring and commitment at the highest level. It defines who you are, what you are willing to do for others. The math doesn’t work out in your favor, though. After you completely take yourself out of the equation, all that’s left is the seemingly insurmountable task of meeting everyone else’s needs over and over again. It’s not a compromise – not even close. “Fifty-fifty give and take” is out the window. This is a “zero – one hundred” scenario, but yet you keep engaging in it. And you do this out of the love and compassion that was shared with you once, or twice, or a thousand times in your past. Taking this a step further, if you don’t take care of others now, who will take care of you later?
Day after day, week after week, month after month and so on the backbone of our society works for the common goal of peace and unity, structure and discipline, strength and prosperity. These are often the unsung heroes who just keep on going past the point of fatigue only to make things better, safer, and more livable for all of us. There’s a difference between a job and a passion, and needless to say, people who embrace the mindset of selfless service are full of passion. It’s hard work, what they do, but they can’t imagine doing anything else. The work is the reward.
Even children understand the value of a job well done. Over time they can develop a sense of responsibility that they can carry with them throughout their lives. If we as adults build on this, we can have the next generation of strong-rooted citizens who can do the hard work of serving others and placing their needs above their own. Teach them to recognize how the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. You’ll be glad you did.
The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Alan Shoalmire. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.
Alan Shoalmire is a resident in Grimes County and the owner of Grill Sergeant Hotdogs and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week.