Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Windows and Mirrors: A Program about Diversity for Grades 4-5

Taking It Home: Service Is The Rent We Pay For Living

Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth. — Shirley Chisholm, African American politician and activist

Service is the rent we pay to be living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time. — Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund


We explored the concept of duty and the importance of jobs that serve for the greater good. The children learned that our Unitarian Universalist faith calls us to respect and appreciate people who accept the responsibilities that maintain a healthy, safe, stable society—for example, firefighters, law enforcement officers, military personnel, teachers and sanitation workers. In this session's Hindu story, the celebrated warrior Arjuna is called to lead a war he does not want to fight—a war against some of his own kinspeople. The story shows how service can be hard, underappreciated, unpleasant and risky. Nevertheless, there are times we all may be called to duty, in order to help feed, protect or otherwise sustain our community.

We talked about various jobs done at home, in our community and in our congregation that help all of us, and we talked about who does these jobs. The children wrote cards of appreciation which we will send to hospitalized military veterans.


Household chores and why they are necessary to keep the household running smoothly. Talk about specific chores, who does them and how they help the family as a whole.


See if you can identify the people in your community who perform needed services, particularly the risky, unpleasant and difficult jobs. You might mention military service people, sanitation workers, funeral directors, water or electric utility workers, police officers, firefighters, assisted living staff, hazardous waste clean-up professionals, bus drivers, teachers or public administrators. How many of these individuals can you identify by name? What are some ways you do, or could, express appreciation of the service they do? What are some ways you could contribute to the jobs others perform on your behalf?


If your family gathers for prayer, meditation or a grace at mealtime, make it a point to include in your spoken thoughts people who serve in the military—whether or not you approve of the specific, current work of our U.S. forces. If saying a blessing for those who serve in the military is difficult, talk together about why that is so. Acknowledge that service jobs can be unpleasant or even controversial. Talk about why some people do service jobs anyway, and make sure children have a chance to voice their perspectives.