This is part II of a three part series exploring the key components of social change. You can find part I on connection here
Service is what life is all about. ~Marian Wright Edelman
“Not enough” is a myth.
Its an ugly horrible myth born from fear. It is one that we tell ourselves as individuals and its one that many of our social change organizations perpetuate.
You know what I am talking about the myth that continues to emphasize the need for self-preservation, self-empowerment, and even self-realization over all else. Over all others.
The mindset that tells us its more important to get and that we always need more.
A key component to social change being effective is the need for communities to shift their mindset.
Shifting our mindset from getting to giving.
That is really hard to do when the nonprofit /social change sector believes that extreme self-focus, competition for resources, and a divisive “us versus them” mentality have been what has made many of them become successful. When in our quest to be more business like we take on businesses bad habits.
I am here today to call a lie what it is…. its a lie.
Our fear of scarce resources is like a smokescreen that keeps us from understanding how to create and participate in genuine community. Sharing knowledge, talent, leadership, control and power does not need to deplete us, but can strengthen our sense of community and security. It can make our organizations more sustainable and healthier.
How many communities have 4-5 organizations replicating services and none of them are really doing anything effectively or efficiently? What are they really contributing?
By service, I mean acting from the genuine understanding that life consists of many interconnected members of one community and that meaning and purpose are discoverable through taking responsibility for our place in the whole. We learn by doing– we create the life we need and want by contributing our gifts for the greater good.
Life depends on all of the contribution of every member of the community of life and that offering ourselves to life is part of discovering who we are. Social change can help create systems and structures in communities so that we don’t limit “service” to a field of non-profit organizations, weekend volunteers, or religious charity groups.
There is always a way to contribute – if it’s not time or money, it can be attention or intention. Often, the way to service is simply a shift of attention, and a willingness to respond when a need shows itself.
All life serves the needs of others. Responding to the needs around us doesn’t require that our organizations be perfect… it just requires that we act.