We may not be as rich or as talented as a Kennedy, but each of
us can give back, can share what we have, can serve other
people. We can help our friends and family, our fellow
Christians, our neighbors, our city, our nation, and our world.
We owe a debt to those who have gone before us, setting an
example and lighting the way. We owe a debt to those who
have taught and shared with us to teach and share with others.
And we owe a debt to those who come after usâ€”to leave a
good example for them to follow.
It's like the old hymn about the Sea of Galilee and the Dead
Sea. One receives water and then passes it on and is full of life
because of it. The other receives, but has no outlet. Choked
with salt and sediment, it is incapable of supporting life.
It is good for us to give back, to share, to serve. It broadens our
awareness beyond the world of people just like us. We come to
know the beautiful variety of life and the wonderful examples of
people who persevere and succeed despite not having all the
advantages we do. We come to appreciate the indomitable
human spirit and find inspiration to make our own lives better.
We come to feel a sense of humility and satisfaction as we help
other human beings more fully realize their potential.
It is good for the person we serve. It helps them get the help
they need but may not be able to afford or know how to get.
It is good for our society. It sharpens all our skills and makes us
more civil people. Itâ€™s apparent that our social discourse
has coarsened and become less civil over the past few years.
We all need to do what we can to reverse the trend, to control
animosity, show respect for others and practice fairness by
taking turns speaking and listening.
We can serve in many different waysâ€”paid and unpaidâ€”
working through churches, schools, libraries, museums.
Working with private and public agencies. Working in groups or
as individuals. We can work with older people, poor people,
teenagers, disabled people, incarcerated people, childrenâ€”
anybody who has a need that we can fill.
If we don't have money, we can give our time. If we don't have
time, we can give our talents. If we don't have money, time or
talents, we can give our concern and our prayers.
We may not be as rich or talented as a Kennedy, but if we live in
the United States, we are rich. If we live, we have talents. We
may be able to shoot a basket, or read a book or tell time or
add figures or paint a picture or fix a carâ€”anything we can do,
we can show or teach someone else to do. They will be richer
for the experience. And we will too.
Painting of Eunice Kennedy Shriver with Special Olympians from the Smithsonian.
Bobby Kennedy with children living
in poverty on the Mississippi Delta.