Jack of All Trades, No Master of Community-Building
November 2, 2012
Ever heard of the expression: “Jack of all trades, master of none”? It is an expression that hits a pretty resonant chord in a world moving at an ever increasing speed. Wanting to read everything, to attend everything, to fight every injustice, to back up every cause, we end up doing nothing, for the simple reason that we do not have time to do it with the level of attention and excellence required to create sustainable change. At the level of the individual, it can cause frustration, distress, anger, and exhaustion, which further undermines attempts to make the world a better place.
I wonder if this habit is even more problematic when one is part of a community-building process focused on achieving the spiritual and material well-being of all. With the best of intentions, we participate in every activity, we back up every cause, we attend every rally, etc. It seems doable, since, even if we hold a full time job, there are five evenings available every week, and two full days over the week-end!
But what about the strong bonds of friendship which are the building blocks of community-building? What about the conversations between two souls at the basis of these bonds of friendship? When we are trying to deepen our friendship with 30, 40, 50 people, are we creating conditions in which we can have strong bonds of friendship based on conversations between two souls? What about the other aspects of our lives – family life, work, school, health: are we achieving excellence in all of these areas, and, if we are not, how is it affecting our community-building efforts?
Service requires sacrifice, and just like with everything else in any Holy Scripture, it cannot be taken out of context. We are asked to strive for excellence; we are advised to delve into Holy Writings; we are counseled to take care of our health; we are encouraged to create a harmonious family life. All these aspects of our lives should be aligned with the purpose of our creation, that is, to know and to worship God, which expresses itself in a life of service, requiring sacrifice. Namely, we should set aside what we would like to do and focus on what is needed.
It’s fascinating how all the topics featured on this blog keep coming together. Sacrifice is needed to focus on what will best help bring forward an ever advancing civilization. But moderation is key, which will help us increase our ability to serve. By striving to excel in one’s chosen field, one can learn to translate the Writings into action and to have a positive influence on its discourse. By taking the time to eat well, to exercise, to sleep enough and to meditate, our bodies will remain at peak efficiency, and we can remain lean, mean service machines well into our golden years.
We should therefore exert all efforts to bring forth an ever advancing civilization, and not just focus on, say, only activities directly related to community-building. On the one hand, this immoderate focus makes us forget about other equally important parts of our lives. On the other hand, it decreases our ability to form solid bonds of friendship based on conversations between souls. Both of these turn said activities into events that do nothing to weave tightly together the fabric of our society. Should we instead choose to do less but increase the time, effort and commitment to each, the changes that we will bring to our relationships will be deeper, and will go a very long way in helping carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.