Terra Rubra Lions Club District 22W 2008 Patriotic Essay Contest

Winner, Lions Club Member Category

How does Lionism support our American way of life? by Lion Larry Gray, Terra Rubra Lions Club

Lions are selfish.

Perhaps I should explain that statement. A common definition of “selfish” is “thinking of oneself before others.” Well, in several ways, that is precisely what Lions do. When youngsters in the community are having to go to school in the winter without warm clothes, who is the first person that a Lion thinks of to lend a hand? Herself. When a neighbor needs vision care but can’t afford it, who does a Lion count on to make sure that the neighbor is taken care of? Himself. When a natural disaster forever changes the lives of thousands of people, who do Lions think should make things right? Themselves. Sometimes it seems that all that Lions do is to think of themselves. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Lions’ motto of “We Serve” epitomizes the American way of life, expressing a belief that the responsibility for helping a neighbor lies with oneself. In 1776, a group of American visionaries laid the foundations of a nation by pledging to one another “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” In 19th Century Ohio, a frontier family who had lost a barn to a fire would find neighbors gathering from miles around to help them build a new one. In the late 1930s, even while struggling to throw off the effects of the Great Depression, America found the resources to become the Arsenal of Democracy for a troubled world. In the early 21st Century, after storms devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast, people from all over America donated their money, material, and time to help the region rebuild. From the earliest days of our nation, it has been a hallmark of Americans that they will give of themselves to help those who are in need. On any day in any number of cities, towns and villages across America and throughout the world, this creed is put into action anew by Lions.

There is one other way in which Lions are selfish: we expect to be compensated for our efforts. No matter how small or large the effort we give, whether we help hundreds of people or only one, we require payment ... in the form of satisfaction and pride. A Lion does not serve for material gain. Our profit lies in the fulfillment that comes from knowing that the world is a bit better off because of what we’ve done. There is no greater reward than the feeling that by simply doing what Lions do, we are living what it means to be Americans.

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