Service to others is the rent we pay

Published 6:07 am Saturday, March 31, 2018

By Michael Cole


Mohammed Ali was once quoted as say, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

John Kennedy felt that public service was a noble calling.

Everyday we have scores of young men and women enlist in our armed forces to defend our country. Firemen rush bravely into burning houses and law enforcement officers patrol our streets to keep us safe. All the while teachers and nurses do their craft and tend to their duties of enriching the lives of others and saving lives.

All of those professions are examples of when people dedicate their lives to the public good.

In those professions, the individuals in them are largely dedicated people who are determined to pay their rent for their time on Earth. Good people wanting to do good deeds not for personal enrichment, but to serve the community.

Why is it so different in the political world?

Here the you see the idea of self-service is far more compelling than public service. The one area of public concern and trust, you see the least amount those in it doing it for the public good as a whole.

Every act to many in this field weigh what looks good against what is good.

We see many chasing the photo op or working in a kitchen then cutting benefits to those that operate the free kitchens and those who desperately need them. They talk about taking care of our veterans and supporting our troops, then they cut their benefits.

They do not care if they do good as long as they look like it.

It is a major reason that I would never really consider another run at public office.

It is the ultimate high for the narcissist. The applaud in the room, the recognition, power; for some it is to tempting.

A number of years back I had a chance to meet Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts. At the time he was the number three Congressman in the Republican House Leadership. Many were talking a presidential run, or at least the opportunity to become the first African-American Speaker of the House.

He was walking away from politics.

He said that people get addicted to the applause and the fame; he wanted his two sons to know their father in person as they were growing up instead of seeing their father on TV.

I did not understand then why anyone would turn away that opportunity. I do now. If I, for the rest of my life, am largely unknown, but do good, the applause and accolades are unnecessary.

By the time that I was elected to office to help the environment, I could have organized friends and cleared the streets and beaches of tons of trash.

I could help hundreds of homeless and destitute before I could pass a single piece of legislation that might someday do it.

The act of service is far nobler than the thought of being elected to do it.

That is what we need to do as a community. We need to be more concerned with helping and serving the community than hoping that those elected will.

It is time for us to start doing good, and shunning those in office that prefer self service over public service.