Service to Others in Need

November 28th, 2008

Categories: Charity Begins at Home

We welcome another friend, a philanthropist and retired executive, who generously shared his thoughts of Thanksgiving.

What is the “meaning of life”? What is “personal happiness”? Is there a “God”?

These are some of the eternal questions with which we are born and with which we will die.

How, then, to make sense of all this thing called “life”? I think that I have found a way that makes sense for me. I think that life has no inherent meaning. All that we see, hear and read about has been invented by mankind to try to deal with “life”. I can only find meaning in the following “theory”:

Some people are born “lucky” and some people are born “unlucky.” Those with luck are born with two loving parents, sufficient money, and live in an organized society with a rule of law. Those who are unlucky are born without one or two loving parents; and /or have no money; and/or live in a chaotic society without the rule of law. Those who are lucky should help those who are unlucky so that the unlucky ones have the chance to think of these eternal questions rather than struggling to survive. Isn’t that fair?

So as I write on this day of “Thanksgiving,” I urge you, if you are one of the lucky ones, to please consider helping those who are unlucky.



5 Responses to “Service to Others in Need”

  1. Thomas, M Said:

    Your point is very well taken, and I would like to extend “lucky” to also include people in good health and those who have a propensity for happiness, sometimes against many odds. Helping the unlucky could also include helping those who are infirm and/or in despair. Financial help? Absolutely. But also how about giving a “lift” . . . literally and figuratively.

  2. Lucrezia Said:

    Epictetus shows a great deal of heart without the benefit of religion or faith. His statements fly in the face of those who, well meaning or not, label man as intrincically “evil” and/or “sinful.” At the risk of entering into a dispute with the namesake of so distinguished and profound a soul, the observation that life has no inherent meaning has been disproved by its author: The desire followed by the ability to share with others. May those of so charitable a persuasion flourish. By following his example, life not only has a raison d’etre, but brings joy to all as well.

  3. Seneca Said:


    That was a big bite of thinking you sent us for Thanksgiving!

    In part I agree with you, in part I don’t. Chance and random selection do play a great role in our lives, but we do with our chances, a greater one.

    We take an inhospitable piece of the planet, where unlucky people scratch out a miserable existence. We find ways to better feed them and to cure their horrible diseases, and what is the result? They live longer, multiply with such rapidity that they exhaust the capacity of their space to provide for them, and then slaughter each other by the millions in the name of tribe and God. Have we served humanity well? Or are we just being self-serving, as so many of today’s ruthless, conscience impaired billionaires are when they give money to charity, just to get their name on a building and a fat tax deduction?

    Life is a balance and as Talleyrand so famously said, “Not too much zeal.”


    laughter eac.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What you wrote makes so much sense to me.

    Why, then, is this perspective lost on so many who, as my Dad would have described them,live like a basket of crabs and crawl over and on top of one another to advance? They are often the ones to die with the most toys, which is what is most admired in our society. Did it never occur to corporate chairmen, who walked away with $ hundreds of millions, to toss some of it back to pay for the health insurance of those who toiled for them and who lost their jobs and coverage? Why do I think I would feel better about some of this financial mess if some of the “lucky” ones–or more able crabs–made gestures of this kind?

  5. Matt Said:

    We all have a duty to help those in need, and hopefully we will see a change in philosophy with the new administration. The best way to help both the lucky and unlucky would be to ensure that every single person in the country has adequate health care. I read that approximately 30% of healthcare costs go to screening people from receiving care. This is insane for a country that likes to boast it has the top rankings in the world.

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