“Life is made up not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things.” Sir Humphrey Davy
That said, where do the awards, citations and peerages go?
Those who have read my musings on the Three Resolutions know that I promote service at home before seeking the rewards – and accolades – of great service to others. It has been said that the one thing that society cannot survive is the collapse of the family unit, and one thing a child remembers more than Dad’s medals or mum’s directorship is the time they spent together, the fun they had, the lessons they learned and the examples that were set. They remember more of who you were, and less of what you did, particularly what you did for others. They focused more on character than deeds.
I suppose it’s about balance. No one is suggesting, and nor should they, that people should neglect the ‘greater goods’ of service to charities. But if you achieve that secondary greatness at the expense of the primary greatness of character, and of service within and towards the family, have you achieved anything meaningful, really?
For example, I have been told of someone who was awarded a national level award for services to the community. Apparently, at a charity function to which she had been invited and fed, they held a raffle. The idea was you put £5 in an envelope with your name on it, and they drew envelopes for prizes. She won a nice prize in the draw, but when they opened her envelope some time later, they found that this paragon of the community on a very nice wage had forgotten to put her money into the envelope. She was never invited back and for those in the know she was always going to be considered with absolute disdain. For £5 she could easily afford.
Her character, the primary source of who we are seen to be, was now flawed for ever in the sight of others. And to be accurate, that one act reflected her character more accurately than anything she said or did afterwards.
Going back to Davy’s quote, that little negative ‘thing’ will, for many, be what she will be remembered for.
This entry started out as a missive on service at the small, yet arguably most important level, but ended as a reflection on how the smallest of character flaws can undermine anything else we do.
In conclusion, therefore, make sure that as the Three Resolutions pyramid suggests, your self-discipline supports good character which then influences noble purpose and provides service. Because without good character, the whole thing falls over.