Greetings my English-speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!
We all want justice in our world. We want people treated fairly. Where I work, at Paz y Esperanza, we have a passion for justice.
Today I want to talk about one of the most important ways that you, as an individual, can help to build a culture of justice. That is through service. When you learn how to truly serve others, justice will be served.
Do you know how to serve others?
When I was a youth, my family lived in Africa. My African friends told many stories about animals. One story went like this:
Once there was monkey who lived by a river. One day he looked down from his tree and saw a fish struggling in that river. The fish was working hard: he was jumping high out of the water. The monkey had compassion. He wanted to help. And so, the monkey reached down from his branch and grabbed the fish. He then threw the fish onto the bank of the river.
The monkey was very proud of himself. He thought that he had helped the fish. The fish looked happy…it was flopping on the ground. In fact, after a while, the fish calmed down and it did not move at all: it was very peaceful. The monkey was very proud…
Did the monkey serve the fish? No! The monkey killed the fish!
Do you understand the moral of the story? Sometimes we want to serve others but we do not help them. We think we know what is best for them but we may not know the right answer. First, we need to listen to their needs.
To serve best, we must listen first. Is this difficult for you? It is difficult for me. I often think I know best and sometimes I act before listening.
For both justice and service, we must listen first. This is true for individuals. This is true for organizations. This is true for churches. This is true for governments. Listen. And then fulfill needs.
How does this proper service relate to justice? It relates by helping to raise people’s dignity. Cultures that do not work to raise people’s dignity usually have trouble providing justice for all of their people.
My father once said, “One serves best when one fulfills the needs of others in order to raise their dignity so they can also glorify God.”
What exactly is dignity? Dignity is proper respect. It is based on the idea that every person deserves to be treated equally well. And why should all people be treated well? It is because you and I, and all people, were created in the image of God. We are all made to glorify Him. Universal human dignity is a difficult idea to accept if one does not believe in God.
Even for people who believe in God, some other people can be difficult to serve. Some people are bad people. But they still deserve human dignity. Maybe they do not know that God created them. Maybe that difficult person does not know the purpose of his or her own life. Serve them, and they may come to know their own purpose through your service.
Sometimes we can only do small things to help. Of course, Mother Teresa once said, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”
Serve the poor. Serve widows and orphans. Serve victims of violence and abuse. Even serve people in prison. Serve and raise someone’s dignity. Justice will be served.
I’m Leon Smith.