[Temple, Outer Court]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 28: Evening


Be usefull where thou livest, that they may

Both want and wish thy pleasing presence still.

Kindnesse, good parts, great places are the way

To compasse this. Finde out mens wants and will,

     And meet them there. All worldly joyes go lesse

     To the one joy of doing kindnesses.

          Be useful where you live so that [the people around you] may continue to both want and wish your pleasing presence. Kindness, good attributes, great places are the way to achieve this. Find out men's wants and desires, and meet them there. All worldly joys are less than the one joy of doing kindnesses.

          You can do more for people if they like you. If you are useful and make their lives easier, more meaningful, harmonious, people will be glad to have you around. You can become an asset to their lives.If you are kind, considerate, a good and patient listener, a pleasant, nonjudgmental conversationalist, if you share great places of power, position and status with them, treat them as if their lives mattered, they will like you. Be useful to people around you. Give people what they want.1 If we really want to help them, we learn first what they want done before we can be useful.

          Not out of ego or self worth. Not out of condescension for someone below your powers. Not because you have to be considered by others to be kind and loving. Not to do what you want because you know best. We can not help anyone if we do not know what they need or want. We can not be useful when we do what we want, believing or hoping to help them. Too often a ‘care-giver’ decides what the person should want and desire. This can never be kind to the one in need. Be careful of making decisions for others under the pretense of helping them. These are not helpful, and, what is more, they are not kind. The greatest of all earthly joys is that joy of doing kindnesses.

1 This creates a dilemna. Should you give them what they want even if you think it is bad for them? Should you offer them the third drink? Should you offer them what you think they want, like P. T. Barnam, for your own ends and profit? Should you do for them what they can do for themselves, making them dependent on you? Once the questions are raised, the answers are easier. [Return] [P.S. Sing "Brighten the corner where you are" to yourself.]

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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