On October 17,2012, I attended the event “Rethinking Service” given by Reverend Canon Dr. Samuel Wells. He focused on the issues of service. Dr. Wells began with a story of a married couple. The wife falls in love with another man and the husband yearns for a connection and unity. Therefore, he tries to murder them. This short story relates to service because Dr. Wells said that overall service is not about doing for others, it is about being with them. With this idea, Dr. Wells’ thoughts on service can relate to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and the two poems by Langston Hughes, “Formula” and “Old Walt”.
In Frankenstein there are many themes that occur during the first half of the novel. However, the most relatable theme that might not be found as important is closeness and connection to family. There are a few examples that portray family. After losing his mother, Victor loses all connection with his family. Perhaps losing someone so close to him was too much to handle while being surrounded by people who cared about him. He resorted to being completely devoted to his schoolwork. This forced him to push his loved ones out of his head and forget about them. It was not until another loss in the family, the death of his brother, did he venture back to his roots. At this time he decided to abandon his studies and go home, realizing how important being with family is. Frankenstein relates to Dr. Wells’ ideas because he comes to realize that being with others is the most important thing. Dr. Wells emphasized that being with others is a more profound way of service.
In the poem “Formula” by Langston Hughes the main theme is one of sadness and pain. The speaker says that poetry is not always blissful, lively, and happy. It can also be painful and full of sorrow. Poetry is not meant to paint a picture of the perfect pain free world; it is suppose to have real meaning and depth. The feelings of pain and sadness relate to Dr. Wells’ way of thinking because he specifically states that in these times of pain and sorrow being with those who need you is the greatest service. People need to feel supported during times of need, and Dr. Wells is in a way also saying that life is not always happy, we need to support and be with each other through the pain.
In the poem “Old Walt” by Langston Hughes the theme is searching or longing. The speaker is looking for adventure and excitement. The use of repetition portrays how discovering something is the main idea that the speaker will not give up on. The poem as a whole describes Walt Whitman and how he acted and what he wanted out of life. This work relates to Dr. Wells’ thoughts because it touches on the idea of service for others. Aside from being with others, service is doing for others. This relates to doing for others because discoveries and adventure are open to everyone. Experiences can be shared, and with that can bring service opportunities for others. Doing for others is also important because without for there cannot be a with.
The literary works of Frankenstein, “Formula” and “Old Walt” all have their own ways of connecting to service. Dr. Wells gave a wonderful presentation on bringing service into your life without realizing it and the two different words that truly describe service. Each literary work brings service into a new light such as, family, pain, and adventure. I am very involved with service at home and I am a member of Operation SMILE and Relay for Life here at Loyola. Service is a very important part of life because it makes you feel like you made a difference every time. To think that being with others rather than doing for them is of more importance was a little difficult to understand at first. Once I thought about I realized that its always what one does for others, its just knowing that someone is there that gets them through anything. “Rethinking Service” definitely made me literally rethink what service means in general and to me.