In referring to putting others first as a ‘necessity’ (for our own
personal growth, and for the healing of the planet), I in no way mean to
imply that we should put ourselves last. Being an angel doesn’t mean
being a doormat; itdoesn’t mean letting others push you around or
manipulate you, and it doesn’t mean playing the role of martyr. An
angel feels good about his or her acts of service; far from resenting
the ones we serve, we feel profoundly grateful to them for providing us
with an opportunity to act as our best selves.
Such distinctions have become harder than they need to be. We are
taught, either through societal sins of omission or commission, to be
selfish. The advertising industry daily - hourly even - assaults us with
messages of what we need to have in order to be ‘whole’. Its aim is
to have us be both self-absorbed and forever unfulfilled, in need of
that next product or service to complete us. Sports and entertainment
and the cult of celebrity have trained us to look upon success, and
‘winning’, as the highest human achievements. And the news (which is
almost invariably bad) teaches us to to fearcalamity around every
corner. It is a dizzying array of signals that have taught us that
we’re in it for ourselves, we’re on our own, and we’ll never be
One of the greatest things about the Angel Corps is that, as one commits
to it, it blows those fantasies apart. It breaks those spells. By making
personal gestures of service on a continual basis, we achieve a greater
sense of deep connection to others - and to formerly hidden parts of
ourselves - that serve to gradually dissolve the corrosive selfishness
that our dysfunctional society has steeped us in.
This enables us to become the exact opposite of selfish: we become self
loving. We love ourselves as we observe our transformation into more
considerate and caring people, and more alert and attentive to others.
We love the expanded world we grow into inhabiting. A world filled with
beautiful interactions that have not been manufactured by media, but
through personal contacts. We have real ‘strangers’ to care more
about than the strangers on television shows, even though our
interactions with them might last no more than a few seconds.
Consequently, our days become more valuable. Putting others first has
the seemingly paradoxical effect of making it easier to enjoy spending
life with that one person that we spend each and every single moment
with: our own self.
As a result of joining The Angel Corps, the lines between self and
other, between our own needs and the ones of those who are ‘in
need’, become wonderfully blurred. Whereas self-chosen martyrdom, and
allowing ourselves to be somebody’s doormat, create a deepening sense
of separation be- tween ourselves and others - and whatever sense we may
have of a Guiding Principle to this universe - Angel Corps operations
forge deeper connections. Our souls, or, if you prefer, the center of
our being, will not be fooled. It is aware ofwhich activities nourish
it, and which harm it. Deep down, we all recognize the human need to be
on the receiving end of help sometimes, and the giving end at others. A
person who manages to go through an entire life bereft of either
experience - if indeed such were even possible - will have missed out on
the greatest opportunities that life offers.
Thus, Angel Corps activity can be seen as far more than the sum of
myriad acts of service. Rather, it should be seen as a necessary
cultural spearhead; toward reconnection and healing. It invites us to
challenge the very principles upon which our modern society is founded
upon - and to find them wanting. “I’m in’” means embracing
one’s true human identity, and abandoning the false, demeaning
costumes of ‘consumer’ (of resources) and ‘competitor’ ( for the
‘right’ values, truths, opinions, etc). Surprise! You are a member
of a family (that includes all living creatures). Your relationship to
life is exactly that - a relationship.
Excerpted from "The Angel Corps: The Necessity of Putting Others First" by Andy Boerger. Copyright © 2015 by Andy Boerger. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Writer and Illustrator Andy Boerger, through his verses, prose and drawings, encapsulates all that is beautiful, absurd, funny, sexy, deep, silly, young, old, happy, sad, profound, profane, puzzling and endearing about the human experience. We are a captivating species, and one with a long way to go. Our need to understand and accept each other, encourage and help each other, and move into each others' spaces with gentleness and love is the driving force that fuels Andy's creativity.
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