Public service is not an option for a healthy community or for a democratic society; it is a prerequisite. We hear a lot about ‘volunteering’ and ‘giving’ and how important it is. Public service can take many forms. From military service, where you join knowing it may cost you your life; to waving someone stuck in traffic through so that they can make their turn onto the next street; this is all doing something in the public good. These two examples bookend the different degrees of giving but all come from a want to do good.But why is it so important?Public service is the foundation of the freedoms we have and the lifestyles we enjoy.These are things that now, sadly, we take for granted all too often. That we can travel freely, worship openly, love who we want, study what we want, work where we want and at any profession we seek to train for, live where we want, do what we want. These are the benefits of generations of good people seeking public service as their vocation.Irrelevant of personal gain or favour, the men and women who have sacrificed their time to serve us, the public, are the foundation of our democratic and just society.
It’s important because without those willing to give of themselves to their neighbours, friends, family, leaders, followers, or to those who are in distress or suffering we lose that which we most seek, love. Love of community, family, even of strangers who our hearts tell us we need to help.In the end, we hope, it’s from love that we give and from love that serve.This maxim can be found in the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, the writings of The Torah, Chinese philosophical texts, and the Indian epic Mahabharata; it is echoed in religious and philosophical texts the world over. This law of reciprocity is best shown by service to others, by serving the public.It is best summed up in these two phrases: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the explanation of life; go and learn.” and “If not us, who? And if not now, when?”We are blessed here in Kamloops to have such a strong community culture of volunteering and giving. I believe that happens because good people set a standard of love of community and inspire more good people to follow that example.That’s what did it for me. From teachers, to family members, friends and colleagues; I find myself constantly inspired to do good. To show love of who we are and where we live through public service.