I was walking with my son one day through the Lake Forest pedestrian tunnel under the railroad. TINK! His wobbly little stroller knocked into an empty, hollow sounding spray paint can. At the same time, the harsh and intoxicating smell of paint emitted through the air and hit my senses like a smelling salt. And there it was, a fresh graffiti mural, still wet to the touch. The little vandals split mid-job. They were more likely alerted by my choppy rendition of ‘Wheels on the Bus’; one of the many songs I like to slaughter in an effort to make my boy laugh.
I continued to walk out of the tunnel and then a thought struck me. Do I have an obligation to report this crime or call the city to have the paint removed? The city will probably send someone out to clean it eventually, right? Well, at that moment, the inherent servant came out of me. Although it was my day off, I was not in my police uniform, and no one was looking, I still felt a need to serve—serve mankind.
My point is, every now and then, we need to remind ourselves that we all have the ability to serve. This ability is not obligatory, it is a choice. It does not have to be “our job” if we want to make a change or help someone. If you need a fancy title like: officer, specialist, CEO, here, I will give you one—how about, good citizen or G.C. if you are one that enjoys important acronyms attached to your name.
Hey, myself included, I find it so easy to get caught-up in my day-to-day routine. Work, family, house chores, baby, oh, and sleep too. Something as easy as reporting graffiti to the city, picking up a piece of trash that is not yours, or keeping an eye on your neighbors house while they’re gone (even if you don’t know them) is serving. It is serving each other and serving the community. I mention some of these little displays of service because they amount to the overall social decline and blight in some of our communities. Without getting too theoretical, this same urban decay leads to crime and crime produces victims.
Gandhi wrote, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” and I could not agree with him more. Surely, Gandhi knew nothing about the little heathens that tagged the Lake Forest train tunnel, but his quote encompasses a bit more. Perhaps these defining moments of service build character as some may suggest. In closing, I suggest they do not build character, they reveal it.
On April 15, 2011, Crime Survivors Inc. will be presenting an award for Citizen of the Year at their annual banquet. If you know a citizen that has gone ‘above and beyond’ in their community, please contact us ASAP so they can be considered.