Practical Suggestions for Community Service (Part One)

In four parts, I will suggest a few ways of serving our communities. Most of us want to do some service but do not know where to start. So perhaps it is a good idea to revisit this concept and, with the help of the list below, look at the possibilities of service open to us. There are countless ways that we can serve, and you can explore many other ways to serve your fellow human beings. If you approach the opportunity to serve others with a radiant countenance and the pure motivation of kindness and love, you’ll find that the gifts you give will come back to you a thousandfold.

As responsible citizens, we often struggle to balance our time among our spiritual growth, family life, and work efforts and render a service to the community. No thanks to technological advancement with so many gadgets that enable us to multitask more and more, we have been transformed from human beings to human doings. Added to that is also the rampant spread of materialism that is consuming our spiritual growth and draining our energy. How can we have time for one more thing- one more social action, one more commitment? Though providing a service may sound like one more commitment to fit into our already busy lives, in reality, service does not necessarily need to become a big project. Any look, gesture, word or action that helps others is an act of service.

To serve humanity is one of the essential duties of the Baha’is. They have been asked to devote their time and energy to providing a service to make the world better for its citizens.

“It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action…. That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. In another passage He hath proclaimed: It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”    –Baha’u’llahGleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 249.

“. . . all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity.  This is worship:  to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people.  Service is prayer.  A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise.”    -‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 176.

The concept of service has been part of all societies throughout human history and has helped it in its path. Serving others is nothing new to people of all religions:

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   – Christianity, Mark 10:45.

“And do not forget to do good to one another.” –Islám, Qu’rán 2:238.

“That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race.”  – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 250.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Service to humanity is service to God.”  -‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p.8.                                         

How else can our world become united if, as citizens, we don’t try to help each other? How else can the sufferings of the world be reduced? The ordinary people of the world like you and me will ultimately make a difference and make this earth a better and more peaceful place if we take one more extra step to help our fellow human beings.