As you probably know, President-Elect Obama has designated today as a National Day of Service, and asked Americans to volunteer at a local community-service agency for the day. This is a good and noble idea, more for the intent it shows and the possibility that some of us will find today a springboard into serving our fellows than for useful work that will be done.
Having said that, I am at my office today. Why? For one thing, I am working on Martin Luther King Day so that I may take tomorrow off to celebrate the fruition of his dream. Also, most of my law practice is devoted to furthering the civil rights of employees, so I think it is fair to say that in some sense most of my work is devoted to serving the community. I am reminded of the story of the French knight who implored a Spaniard to go on crusade to the Holy Land. Thinking of the constant struggle against the Moors, the Spaniard replied, "We are always on crusade; we do our part."
(For those who take issue with the idea of equating a crusade for a particular religion with equal rights for all, as Lincoln said, we know what is right only "as God gives us to see the right.")