There is none made so great, but he may both need the help and service, and stand in fear of the power and unkindness, even of the meanest of mortals.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.
… or Ben can generally be depended upon to say it succinctly.
Seven years and eleven months ago I raised my right hand and swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same,” and to ” obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” In one month my eight years of military obligation, six served on active duty as a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy will have come to an end.
I have mixed feelings about this–though I have often had reservations about about the decisions of the government and the upper chain of command and I have often been disappointed in the all-too human failings of some of the actions of fellow service members, I have never had cause to regret my service or my reasons for having chosen to enter the military, and if I am totally honest with myself, there is as much a part of me that misses the military as there is relief for having gotten out at the end of my enlistment (from the many conversations we have had on the matter, I am fairly certain the hubby has a similar feelings on the subject). I can say though, that whether one agrees with the role of the military or not, the commitment required to honor one’s military obligation is something we could all use to apply to all aspects of our daily lives.
Service comes in many guises other than that of military or civil service. Everyday actions directed towards strangers, towards family and friends, towards the gods, towards other life forms, towards places can all reflect our commitment to our values and our gods (and the values of our gods?) . Service serves as the one of the ways in which we can express our integrity and our devotion in real time and in meaningful ways for others, and with some thought and commitment can be a meaningful devotion to the gods.
Someone that kicks it with Aphrodite might consider working informally through something like Operation Beautiful, while a devotee of Bast might consider working with an animal shelter or as a foster home for pets. Because I predominantly work with aquatic deities, we clean up a section of our local beach when we enjoy an afternoon playing in the surf and I stay abreast of local conservation issues that impact the watershed. Other forms of service might include working to create a community garden for one’s neighborhood, volunteering with a search and rescue group, or even just getting to know the neighbors and lending a helping hand (visit an elderly neighbor without family, help the parent with a deployed spouse so they can have an afternoon to themselves, or take a meal to the new family that just moved it).