Abdul Sattar Edhi was a Pakistani humanitarian, philanthropist and ascetic who founded the Edhi Foundation, which runs the world's largest volunteer ambulance network, along with various homeless shelters, animal shelters, rehabilitation centres, and orphanages across Pakistan.
Service Before Self
“We are living in a far from perfect world. Despite the progress of civilization, the law of the jungle, unfortunately, still prevails. Might is considered right and the strong do not refrain from exploiting the weak. Self-advancement, greed and lust of power sway the conduct of individuals as that of nations. If we are to build a safer, cleaner and happier world let us start with the individual -- catch him young and inculcate in him the scout's motto of service before self and purity of thought, word and deed.”
- Mr. Jinnah / Quaid-e-Azam
- Speech: Service before Self
- Context: Message to Pakistan boy scouts
When two nations or groups of nations are interested in a question, the decision depends largely on which of them is, or is believed to be, the stronger one. This is nothing but primitive anarchy, “the war of all against all” which Hobbes asserted to be the original state of mankind.
It is true that self-advancement, greed and lust sway the conduct of individuals as that of nations. For this reason, Pakistan in its ambition to contribute to a safer and happier world, wants to start with the individual and instill a strong sense of service before self. Economic life is turning individuals into shrewd animals, crafty, self-preserving creatures who are adept at playing the game and who turn everything into a game. If that’s all people have, people spend a lot of time cultivating professional skills, but they don’t know where they should devote their skills, which career path will be the highest and the best.
Service before self is essential for building a strong inner character, the moral accomplishment of building inner integration and equanimity is a process that occurs in every human heart. When we place service ahead of our own self interests, we dedicate efforts, resources, time and energy for the evolution of our society. Service to our community instills a sense of humility that enhances our collective self-awareness to understand our deficiencies and improve the state of our nation.
Service before self does not mean to stop taking care of your families. Our families are a critical element of our society and our service should enhance their health, morale and welfare – not take away from it. Productive service comes by attaining adaptive balance among needs from the community, responsibilities towards the family and personal needs and wants.
We’ve experienced, firsthand, when citizens and political leaders prioritize their own advancement above the nation's interests -- the economic, social, educational and democratic progress of the nation greatly suffers. Through devotion to a higher cause, we will elevate our national aspirations and organize our energies to overcome.
The ultimate joys are moral joys, and by achieving purity of thought, word and deed we can manifest our ideals of justice, equality and liberty. We must remember that the gift of freedom, justice and equality are not received from a state or a leader but a possession to be won every day by the effort of each and union of all.
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