You may be tempted to think of service along the lines of a maid or butler, or a food server in a restaurant. If so, you may be put off by the economic inequality that often accompanies and gives rise to such work. But for some people, service to others is a constant and joyful act and not subservient at all. The Kennedy family comes to mind in its ethic of political service to country. The family matriarch, Rose Kennedy, often expressed that view. There are many other examples, some of which are highlighted in the narratives on this page.
Narratives on military and other public service:
- James Wright, Those Who Have Borne the Battle: A History of America’s Wars and Those Who Fought Them (PublicAffairs, 2012), exploring “how the United States has raised forces with which it wages war; and how, in the aftermath of battle, it cares for and remembers those who fought.”
- Marcus Luttrell, Service: A Navy SEAL at War (Little, Brown & Company, 2012).
- Harold C. Dethloff and Gerald E. Shenk, Citizen and Soldier: A Sourcebook on Military Service and National Defense from Colonial America to the Present (Routledge, 2011).
- John O. Brennan, Undaunted: My Fight Against America's Enemies, at Home and Abroad (Celadon, 2020): a former C.I.A. director chronicles his life of service, and offers some timely opinions.
Film and Stage
- Going My Way, a filmwith a classic ending about the virtue of doing for others
- Kramer vs. Kramer: a father sacrifices his careerfor his young son after the mother abandons them
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
- Raga Adana, a Hindustani classical raag for late evening: performances by Fateh Ali Khan, Malini Rajurkar, S.N. Ratanjankar, Rashid Khan, Shweta Pandit, Jay Thakkar (Teental) and Ram Marathe
- Ives, String Quartet No. 1, "From the Salvation Army" (1900)
- Sergey Taneyev, Piano Quartet in E Major, Op. 20 (1906): all the instruments acting in service to each other, and their common cause
- Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour: A Novel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017): “ . . . what McDermott achieves most splendidly is the hyper-realistic portrayal of the grim, often disgusting aspects of illness and death among the poor: the boils and pustules, the grotesquely swollen or missing limbs, the ubiquitous stink of human waste. This achievement situates the life of a nun where it ideally belongs, in the difficult, often conflicting world that embraces practical competence, a commitment to giving more than could reasonably be asked and a lived belief not only in the goodness but, in Sister Jeanne’s words, the ‘fairness’ of God . . . ”
- Meg Waite Clayton, The Postmistress of Paris: A Novel (Harper, 2021): “As a “postmistress,” Nanée does deliver messages to those in hiding from the Nazis, but she also strikes out on her own, plotting daring rescue attempts that will take her to a notorious internment camp, then deep into occupied territory.”