Peace and service connect like two strands of the same trail. To serve is to reach out to someone else, which calls for a measure of empathy; and entails unselfishly stepping out of one’s own shoes. Such is the spiral trail of peace, deeply engraved in truthful and faithful service.
In the words of Albert Einstein: “Peace cannot be kept by force…” This world renowned physicist could easily have coined a theory of human relations to rival his relativity theory. Strangely, the world has been blindfolded by fear and often opted for peace through forceful means. This fallacy can only be equated to putting up a large poster marked “RICE” in a maize field and expecting the harvest to match the poster. Nature makes no room for impostors. When individuals choose to sow seeds of selfishness, control and greed in the quest for their topmost goals, such will be the harvest: chaos, confusion and violence. The end doesn’t seek to correct the means but only responds with truthfulness and faithfulness to its own seed.Just like peace cannot be kept by force, service cannot be forcibly rendered.
The human race has seen and experienced far more imbalance, unfairness and untruthfulness to warrant a far-fetched attitude towards service. Understandably, we tend to hold onto all that we can get, and try to get all that we can reach, even at the risk of damaging nature and life itself. Everyone continues to search for the security and assurance that their well-being will be catered for in the unforeseeable future. Sadly, this state of affairs taints the need for uprightness, as it perpetuates fear. It would therefore take a paradigm shift for people to overcome their genuine but unfounded fear and emulate Lao Tzu, who wittily argues that: “The more you do for others, the more you will have for yourself.”We need to acknowledge the fact that we currently exist as a result of service received from both nature and human effort. We were all providently ushered into this strange space called “world” as equal and vulnerable beings with service as the landmark of our infant survival. We spoke not a word of the bizarre languages that we found, but were never fed on sand and stones. Alas, we grew up to forget the accomplishments of service, as the people around us eagerly oriented us into speaking their own languages, practicing their religions and traditions, while shunning the rest.
Our interconnected-ness however, demands the recognition of the chain-like model of our being. Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so are we! We need to constantly seek for ways to contribute to the pool of service that goes around strengthening the chain of our peaceful being.
Abiola (2000) clearly illustrates that Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, towards creating a world that supports everyone. With truthful and faithful service, peace would naturally replace strife. On the other hand, service that is tainted with discrimination counts for less. It would be like sowing weevil ridden seeds; one could expect some outgrowth, but the loss would be predictably astounding. Service that is closed along the narrow lines of ethnicity, race, sex, and religion or taken in isolation from other non human aspects of nature would in no time digress. Truthful and faithful service ought to be offered to nature and humankind alike, in gratitude for our own existence. Abiola (2000) goes on to clarify that Peace also involves securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are. The ‘other’ in this case significantly highlights the recognition that we share the world not only with those who are ‘like us’ in human form, but also those aspects of nature that respond truthfully and faithfully whenever stirred into action.
By intelligible design, human beings have always been the unrivaled masters of the earth. We are the intelligent creatures that can act on all other existing aspects of nature, including ourselves. Our place in the universe is inscribed on an unshakable leadership mantle. However, true leadership cannot be isolated from service. The more responsibilities that one’s privileged leadership position bestows upon them, the more response and ability to serve would be expected of them.
Nonetheless, there is a heightened desire for people to secure leadership positions, which they in turn conveniently divorce from service. This is a regrettable trend, where leadership is used as a strategy for people to meet their own needs for security and kindred well-being. At the risk of prophesying doom, leadership that is not based on service will always have dire consequences for both the leader and the led. This is as natural as a seed would germinate into a seedling of its own kind. We all therefore, have a special mandate to serve, and the leaders among us have an even more cut out role as custodians of service to maintain peace.
Today, we have shamelessly taken our quest for self-service beyond humanity and into the realm of nature. In the absence of a mind of its own, nature has responded loudly and clearly in the form of global warming, floods, typhoons, desertification and soils that can barely support life. Our disservice to nature continues to disturb our own peace. Whenever we choose to outwit nature’s forces, we only serve ourselves with a multitude of its own truthful and faithful harvest of repercussions. For that reason, we can only breed a cycle of peace by upholding service to both humankind and nature at the forefront of our quest.
The trail of peace through service therefore calls for humanity to act in consistency with the values of nature’s steadfastness. The act of service needs to be grown and nurtured by understanding the simplicity with which nature operates. Nature’s secret is about maintaining balance, which comes forth by giving and receiving. It is not about looking for what is ‘wrong’ with the ‘other’, but rather how to connect with each other. It is also about asking the right questions on how we can be of service, rather than how we should be served. To commit to serve would appear like a naïve trail at this time, but that’s the least costly price we can pay for peace: with ourselves, in our households, our communities, our countries and our world. We therefore need to support each other, to free ourselves from fear and take up the habit of service. We must adopt and strengthen the habit of service so as to recognize human dignity.
By Faridah Nakafeero.