I was recently invited to write an article on ‘service to others’ for my yoga organisation’s magazine. This led me to ponder on what ‘service’ means. For me, and I suspect for many, the idea of ‘service’ is tied in with charities – either doing voluntary work for charities, or giving them money.
When I looked around me at the main charities in New Zealand and the public events they run/sponsor, or are run in their name to raise money, such as the ‘Ride to Conquer Cancer’ (a two day cycle ride to benefit the Cancer Society), ‘Fit for Life’ (a boxing event between celebrity non-boxers, to raise money for nominated charities) and raffles (Heart Foundation), I began to wonder what ‘service’ they were actually offering to the world and started to ask myself the following questions:
- Is it “true service” to sponsor an event that asks participants to cycle for two whole days, camping on the ground overnight?
- Is it “true service” to ask people to box who are not professional boxers, even setting aside the known dangers of boxing?
- Is it “true service” to encourage people to gamble?
It appeared to me that many of the events run by our charities could be putting people’s bodies and minds at risk!
For example, if I feel a certain charity is doing amazing work in the area of health and I want to support it by organising a fund-raising event, would I organise a cycle or running race that I know will compromise the bodies of those racing: in other words, that would be detrimental to their health? Would the purpose of raising money be enough to compensate for the harm to the participants in the race?
Is it “true service” to give money to charities?
There are many statistics that point to the huge amount of money going into administration of our charities, e.g. large CEO salaries, plus staff salaries, travel expenses and office expenses. Sometimes I understand these expenses take up 85% of the money coming in! Plus, the bigger charities now often engage consultants to fund-raise for them and I understand these consultants take 50% of the money raised! Therefore, if I donate money to charities, how much of this money would actually go to people in need?
Is it possible that our charities are not as charitable as we think they are? Is it possible that the current charity business model is a band-aid fix?
Why do people volunteer to work for charities? What is their motive for doing so? Could it be for:
- Recognition (many do indeed receive medals or honours);
- From boredom or a feeling of being unfulfilled;
- Out of guilt, feeling they have in the past gained at another’s expense;
- From a desire to “do good”; or perhaps
- From a need to please others?
It feels to me that to truly serve, first of all I have to be aware of what my intentions are. Through presentations offered by Serge Benhayon, founder of Universal Medicine, I have experienced that true service must first start with self-love and self-responsibility i.e. I must be the love I would like the world to be.
As “Everything is energy and everything is because of energy” (Serge Benhayon), perhaps we first have to change the energy in which we approach service to others, as change can only come about if those serving inspire others, through the quality of their service.
This feels important because, if I am trying to “please others” or “do good” as my initial intention, this is not truly making it about serving humanity, but rather about self-gain and, in the words of Isaac Newton, “for every force/action, there is an equal and opposite force/reaction” – therefore the energy is never truly changing and we are left stuck on the same merry-go-round of problems, and solutions that are only ever temporary band-aids.
And hence, is giving money and clothes to those in need enough?
If it was, then the trillions of dollars that have been poured into Africa, through charities and governments, since the end of European colonisation would have made a bigger difference to the lives of African people. There is still much poverty and hardship in most African countries.
It is clear we need another way to serve those in need, perhaps one that would empower the people who we are aiming to serve, rather than treating them as a ‘charity case’? This way perhaps they would be able to make true and lasting change, so that eventually they would not need the charity of others.
Empowering those in need could look like the following… Maybe I am an awesome organiser and could share ways to be organised and ordered, in a loving way, without any judgement of how others live? Or perhaps I have the ability to teach (present) skills and behaviours and support others by truly connecting to them, listening to them without judgement, accepting where they are at, and supporting them to re-connect to their true selves, knowing that they are equal to me in every way and that their very essence (their core/centre) is simply love, which could perhaps inspire them to make changes to their behaviours and routines that are more supportive for them?
What if we, and our charities, were to first focus on what our intention was in carrying out the object of the charity, what skills we could bring to the service to others, and whether we were carrying out that purpose and using those skills with true love for all of humanity?
Would this then not be true service and therefore true charity?
By Anne Scott, Lifestyle Consultant, Esoteric Healing Practitioner, Yoga Teacher and Mediator, Auckland
– Charities exposed for Cold-calling: What is True Charity?
– College of Universal Medicine: A World First Volunteer Model
– Universal Medicine – People’s Choice Award: True Service, True Business Model & About People