On October 17th, I attended the “Rethinking Service” lecture conducted by Dr. Samuel Wells, a renowned priest from London. The lecture discussed “the essential problem” with human existence, the roots of the problems and the differing perceptions of people. The readings that relate to Dr. Samuel Wells’ “Rethinking Service” include “Formula” and “Old Walt” by Langston Hughes and “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley.
Throughout the lecture, Dr. Wells explored the many questions of human existence. We learned that morality is not the answer to problems or conflicts. Dr. Wells believed that the main problem could stem from isolation. He said you couldn’t live life to the fullest if you are alone forever. He further explained that by doing service, one will have a much more enriching experience by “being with others” as opposed to simply “doing for others.”
In the poem “Formula” by Langston Hughes, the reader learned that poetry is not always joyful and happy. In fact, Langston Hughes claimed that people tend to overlook that poetry can be about pain as well as joy. Poetry is meant to depict reality, a world that is a mix between pain and sorrow and happiness and bliss. Hughes attempted to convey that these feelings are equally as important and should not be excluded from poetry. The idea that life has many negative and positive connotations relates to Dr. Wells’ theories. We need to support and take care of each other in a time of suffering. Service is more than just “doing” for one another, it’s “being there” and making a difference. The times we experience pain and misery should not be overlooked, as Langston Hughes argued. Instead, we should utilize these moments in service for others.
In the poem “Old Walt” by Langston Hughes, the speaker is on a never-ending hunt for meaning. The use of repetition in the phrase “finding and seeking” and “seeking and finding” portrayed how the process of finding something is important, and we should not give up on it. Langston Hughes’ “Old Walt” correlates with Dr. Wells’ lecture. Hughes believed that the act of searching is a reward in itself. You can learn from your endeavors in seeking. By looking carefully at details, an understanding emerges. In service, new discoveries are beneficial to everyone. In order to help people, the ultimate reward of giving your service can be attained after some time similar to the concept of “finding” and “seeking.”
In “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, Victor created a monster that was completely different than what he had expected. In order to create this monster, Victor isolated himself from his family and peers in order to achieve this feat. This relates to Dr. Wells’ “Rethinking Service” as he explains how isolation is the essential problem of human existence instead of morality.