In 1968 after a 25 day fast to bring solidarity to the United Farmworkers movement, Cesar Chavez said,
I am convinced that the truest act of courage…is to sacrifice ourselves for others in totally nonviolent struggle for justice.
Here Chavez captures the paradox embedded in service, giving to others can give life and purpose in return. The sacrifice he modeled in 1968 was for large scale social change to correct the economic marginalization and abuse of farm workers. Sometimes entering into the practice of small sacrifices for others can lead to a steady march towards alleviating injustice on a larger scale.
Penn has a rich tradition of service that lifts up others, with important initiatives going on at Civic House, Netter Center for Community Partnerships at Penn, Fox Leadership, and the Office of the Chaplain, to name a few. These organizations are serving others well.
Can courageous service for others bring renewed purpose? I invite you to experiment finding ways to serve and sacrifice for others during this time and see what it does for your own wellbeing. What are ways you could serve? Could you ask an elderly person if they need you to shop for them? Could you help a neighbor with lawn work? Could you find ways to show gratitude to those working hard in the medical community, in grocery stores, or delivering to homes?