Thank you for your service

Today is Veterans Day in the US. It is a day meant to show gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives fighting for the country. Also this is the day to show solidarity with the peace which has resulted from such sacrifices.

Human beings, over several millennia, have evolved as a social species. Providing a service to others has proven time and time again to increase social bonding and increase the general happiness of individuals. Also, as Ben Franklin showed, obtaining a favor from another can be a way to friendship.

Helping another individual without expectation of getting anything in return somehow creates a sense of satisfaction. As Krishna instructed in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2 verse 47:

“karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi”

This can be roughly translated to:

“You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.”

 – Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2 verse 47

Also, Jesus instructed his followers to reduce one’s ego and to serve others:

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

– Bible, Matthew 23

Those who serve their countries in the armed forces on the battlegrounds do so mainly out of a sense of honor. A typical greeting in the US when meeting a veteran is: “Thank you for your service”. It seems that these individuals are a great example of how to serve. They take on immense risks for the sake of others. So, along with thanking veterans for their service, one could also truly learn from the example of such individuals in today’s world.

Intentions & reputations

It appears that in order to build reputation, it is enough to show great intentions and/or possess a tendency to please everyone.

Building a reputation appears to be the short-term pursuit of a name which could be sought by virtue signaling and other short-term practices, which whither away eventually.

As Rhett Butler says in Gone With The Wind:

“With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.”

One builds character by applying courage and being steadfast in one’s beliefs over the course of a lifetime.

The Bible states in Proverbs 22:1, referring to the long-term character of a person as opposed to quick riches which can be gained by building a short-term reputation:

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

The word character is derived from an ancient word meaning “engrave”. This indicates a deep quality of personality which is engraved, as it were, inside of a person and forms part of one’s soul.

Abraham Lincoln said:

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

Building character requires a life-long effort in doing right by oneself and others.