A Gift of Service: The Debate

Ordinarily I reply to blog comments by private email; but the comments by Kolkata Prince to my post A Gift of Service raise a very interesting issue, so I’ll address it here. His point, I take it, is that it is better to do something of more “lasting value” than something momentary and fleeting like our afternoon (and evening) of service in Madurai. That might seem like a difficult proposition with which to disagree.

And yet, I completely disagree with it – and without a moment’s hesitation.

The important thing about this gift of service is that real people were taking their time and applying their energy to improve a small piece of the world they found before them. It is as much about process as it is about achieving anything important in any single effort.

If one has faith in the process of service, one understands that acts of selflessness cannot help but inspire selflessness in others – look at the example of our hardscrabble friend Veerapan from my story – and that this symbiotic pattern of inspiration and action spreads ever-outward. The always quotable Mother Teresa summarized the spirit behind the gift of service, and the need to get beyond always looking for big-impact altruism, in her famous aphorism: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

This, incidentally, is the spirit behind CharityFocus, as expressed in our guiding principles. And it is the spirit I find in all my true service heroes.

My thanks to the Kolkata Prince – and I assume this is not Sourav Ganguly, but some other Kolkata Prince – for raising this important issue.

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1 Response to “A Gift of Service: The Debate”


  1. 1 James Jiang 18 December 2011 at 8:44 am

    small artical, but great advices.


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