We Can Change Our Programming!
12. Gifting, Sharing and Service
Service is about giving to and sharing with others. If we share with others what we have, and they share with others what they have, and we all create what we can, with love, we all have more than enough. That’s a beautiful and almost miraculously powerful simple truth, which might be called a natural law. It’s an important function of a healthy human social system. It can be a foundation for spiritual practice. It’s one of the major branches or practices of Yoga. When we gift to, share with and serve other beings, genuinely intending to help them and ourselves, with good intentions, love, compassion and care, we all prosper, thrive, feel satisfaction and grow. And we raise our spirits and consciousness in the process.
In the U.S., service has become largely what some do for others because we want what the other has, or to demonstrate subservience, like a dog rolling on its back under the alpha. We serve others because we want them to pay us for the service, or we serve others because we give them power over us.
A waiter serves diners in the U.S. in hope of getting tips, so he can live, because he’s not paid enough by his employer. Merchants provide services to customers in return for payments for services. We serve those with money in order to get some of that money, or some other favor. We give service in order to get money. That turns gifts of sharing into prostitution for survival. It transforms generosity into greed. It shifts giving into getting. The gift of service becomes perverted into groveling for survival or greed.
Curiously, in almost every other business in the U.S. it’s the owner’s responsibility to pay its employees and report that income for taxes, but it’s not the restaurant owner’s responsibility to pay its employees fair wages to deliver its food to its customers, it’s the responsibility of the customer to optionally(?) gift the waiter for the service, outside of tax reporting. That’s a twisted inversion of the concept of service, enabled by inexplicable exceptions to employer laws, and it’s now deeply embedded in U.S. culture. We’re trained to feel obliged to pay employers’ employees, which employers don’t feel obliged to pay. It’s madness. And this tipping madness is spreading throughout the economy and world.
Curiously, in the U.S. it is called “being in the services” to be part of armed forces that go destroy things, kill others and take from them as directed by those in power, whether it makes any sense or serves any humane purpose. That is a polar opposite to the service concept of sharing with and helping others. “Service,” a spiritual concept, has been coopted to mean being used to harm others and steal from them based in greed, anger, hate, power hunger, or some other lower energy and viciousness.
When we serve in tennis, the intention is to try to deliver a ball to an opponent in a way that she cannot receive it and make use of it, so we get a point and she does not, as part of a game. That’s not service. That’s a manipulation with words to change our programming, so real service becomes undermined.
In the U.S., being of genuine service to others to generously share with them, help them and improve conditions for all, with love and compassion, is too often demoted, from a profound spiritual practice that improves society and well-being for all, to a sometimes necessary if undesirable trade in order to extract money or favor from others, an act of subservience to power, or something opposed to service, like stealing from others by force or hurting them, or winning over another in a game.
As a result, many U.S. people are wary when we are offered gifts, sharing or service. We anticipate and resist being asked to pay for something somehow, or other games to exploit us, because we so often encounter service as a ruse to trick us into something that creates advantages for some other over us. Or, we try to extract as much service as possible, because the game is always about getting more for me. Or, we’re confused by the interaction, suspicious, wary and untrusting of it, because of past experiences with service, gifting and sharing being perverted.
We find it difficult to accept a true gift or service with genuine gratitude, because we are suspicious of it or not familiar with it. Service has been twisted and corrupted, and, as a result, society suffers, and the social and spiritual benefits of being in service are subverted. Open, genuine and generous sharing, gifting and service are important human values and practices. Truly, it feels good to give, help and share! It is self-rewarding. Try it, and feel it for yourself. That personal experience teaches the truth. Genuine and generous gifting, sharing and service raise us up.
If we share with others what we have, and they share with others what they have, and we all create what we can, with love, we all have more than enough. That’s a beautiful and almost miraculously powerful simple truth, which might be called a natural law. Let’s get back to gifting, sharing and service!
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