Once upon a time in a faraway land, there was a man who, unlike all of you, did not lead an exemplary life. He wasn't like you at all, because he wasn't kind, he wasn't caring, and he didn't do good things to help others. So, unfortunately, after he passed away he ended up in... well, let's just put it politely by saying, he didn't get to go to a very nice place.
Instead, he found himself in the nether regions being greeted by a guide who offered to give him a tour of the facilities.
The man, however, was very surprised by what he saw there! He was expecting to see all kinds of punishments... but instead he saw a lush banquet table piled to the brim with delectable goodies.
How could this be? People were seated on both sides of the table, and in front of them was every kind of delicacy imaginable!
"I'm confused", the man said to his tour guide. "I thought that being down here was supposed to be a punishment?"
"Look closer," his guide admonished, and when he did, the man saw that the people at the table had been given extra long forks... forks that were longer than their own arms.
Even though all sorts of delicious food was right in front of them, the people were not able get it into their mouths.
"Would you like to see what it's like upstairs?" his kind guide asked. "You can't stay there, but you can get a quick glimpse of what you're missing."
The man was very curious, so he jumped at the chance to see what the reward of a virtuous life would have been like. When they got there for the tour, though, he was even more surprised.
At first glance, it looked JUST like what he'd seen downstairs! He saw the same banquet table, piled high with the same delectable treats! And he even saw... the same long forks!
"Now wait just one minute," the man exclaimed in confusion. "How is this any different than what we just saw downstairs?"
"Look closer" his wise guide told him.
And when the man looked closer, he realized in a flash what the difference was.
Here, the people were not trying (and failing) to feed themselves using those extra long forks.
Instead, they were using the long forks to feed each other across the table."
And that one difference in perspective, the perspective of focusing on serving others, was what made all the difference .
At the Learn and Get Smarter community meetings, and in this blog, we've considered how our own missions and businesses can contribute to overcoming inequities and creating a better world for all.
At last week's community meeting, we touched on the issue of leadership as an important factor that determines whether individuals, families, communities, nations, and our planet as a whole, can survive and thrive.
The pandemic throws these issues into high relief, creating a learning opportunity--a learning NECESSITY--for our planet as a whole.
When leadership at any level is focused in self-serving ways (trying to feed ITSELF with those long forks), not only is the result unsatisfying, but everyone ends up feeling terrible.
Enlightened leadership, on the other hand, is focused on SERVICE.
Service can include: