“Pardon me, are you Aaron Burr, sir?” “That depends, who’s asking?” “Oh, sure, sir. I’m Alexander Hamilton, I’m at your service, sir…” So begins the dialogue between A.Ham and …
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“Pardon me, are you Aaron Burr, sir?”
“That depends, who’s asking?”
“Oh, sure, sir. I’m Alexander Hamilton, I’m at your service, sir…”
So begins the dialogue between A.Ham and A.Burr in the Broadway mega smash “Hamilton.” That line, “I’m at your service,” is one of my favorite older affectations that has, sadly, been dropped from the lexicon. You also hear that line when each of the dwarves introduce themselves to Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
There’s another way to look at that, that was best explained by Jed Bartlet in “The West Wing.”
“Saint Paul begins the passage: ‘Be subject to one another out of reverence to Christ.’”
See, you thought I was just going to dive deeper into nerd-dom, and there, I break out something Biblical.
But, is there anything more important in this day and age, perhaps, than being subject to one another, than being at each others’ service?
There was a time that going to Washington, D.C., was referred to as “public service” — how’s that working out for us these days?
There is an ideal written into our constitution that the press is supposed to serve the public, to keep the democratic process working. But these days? CNN, Fox, MSNBC and all the rest don’t seem to be serving anybody, either — except, perhaps, a preconceived agenda.
When our elected “servants” and the other “servants” who are supposed to be keeping their eyes on them only know how to pursue their own agendas and do what is either politically or economically expeditious for themselves, what are we supposed to make of our country?
Or let me approach it from this direction: how are those New Year’s Resolutions working out for you?
Statistically, most people have abandoned their resolutions by now, so, if you’re one of the few still working on yours, good for you—that’s impressive.
But, why do we make resolutions? Why do we want to be healthier, for instance? Because, then we’ll live longer, with a better quality of life. What purpose does that serve? Why do we need to get a grip on our finances? Because then we’ll be less stressed and, maybe, be in a position to have great adventures. What purpose does that serve?
I would argue that every resolution has one goal in mind, at the end of the day: to be happier. Maybe not in the short term (which is why so many resolutions fail), but in the long run.
But happiness for yourself is a difficult thing to attain, primarily because so much of our own happiness depends on the happiness of others. So, let’s say you’re successful at your resolution and lose 20 pounds—how do you feel the next time you see somebody you haven’t seen in a while and they don’t notice? It doesn’t diminish your accomplishment in the least…but your happiness takes a hit.
There’s a beautiful corollary to that idea, however: even though happiness for yourself is difficult to attain because it depends on others, happiness for others is easy to attain, and leads directly to happiness for yourself. And how do you create happiness for others?
By serving them.
Try it. There are hundreds of opportunities in the city of Arvada, in Jefferson County, and on the Front Range. Build a house, serve a meal, deliver groceries.
Or go small. Cook a meal for somebody recovering. Shovel the snow off the sidewalks of the elderly couple up the street. Buy a coffee for somebody having a bad week.
If each of us, in small ways, begin to think more about serving each other, maybe we can make our communities, our cities, our state, even our country, a little better than we found it. Who knows? Maybe we could even create an idyllic little land like the Shire.
Maybe minus the dragons, and stuff…
“Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.
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