Service is Individual

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Sister Okasaki

I want to teach you an important Japanese word, kigatsuku (pronounced key-got-soo-koo). Kigatsuku means an inner spirit to act without being told what to do, a willingness to serve, a self-motivated impulse toward goodness.....

Kigatsuku isn't a professional quality and it can't be taught as part of a professional training. Instead it comes from an educated heart. It's triggered by seeing a human need. It sees human beings as supremely important—not in groups but just one at a time. Ed (her deceased husband) was this way. When Ed was working as a psychiatric social worker at the VA Hospital in Salt Lake City just after he got his MSW from the University of Utah, he would go on the rounds with the doctors. As he walked down the hallway, he greeted all the workers. "Hello, Joe," he'd say to the man washing the windows. "Hello, Annie," to the woman who was scrubbing and mopping. "Hello, Elsie," to the file clerk at the counter. He knew everybody who was doing menial tasks.

The doctor asked, "How do you know these people? How come you know them by name?"

Ed said, "I make it a point to know them. These people help keep the hospital running, and they need to know that they're important. I want them to know that I'm here to help them if there's anything I can do."

When Ed was made state director of aging services, his department had a big party for him, open to anyone who wanted to come. That place was crowded with all the people who did the menial and mundane tasks. They came and shook his hands and hugged him and I heard them say things like, "Who will ever talk to us again? Who will ever call us by our names?" I think Ed and I have been blessed to understand people who are downtrodden and to see people who need our help. We want to give them our understanding and our empathy.

Thoughts shared by Sis. Okasaki in her Book: Cat's Cradle, p. 45