Have a story I want to tell you. It's about a family who live in a large and beautiful house.
They have a large number of servants, an incredible number. The servants are supposed to do a great many things for the family. "We'll work for you as long as you pay us," the servants said. "We'll do whatever you ask, whenever you ask. We will take care of you because there is nothing else in the world as important as you. We have eyes only for you. In fact, we love you. It's a non-sexual love, but it is love, just the same, and that's why we want to continue working for you as your servant, to make your house more beautiful than any other house in the world."
The family that hired them was very pleased. "That sounds great. We'll tell you what. We like the job you're doing so much that you can decide when you work and how much you get paid."
"Thank you for the trust," the servants replied, giving themselves a pay raise. "You know, it's great working for you. We hate to mention this, but, well...."
"What is it?" the family asked. "Talk to us. You're our servants. You're like part of our family. We want to take care of you so you can take care of us."
"Well, okay, it's a small thing, but we worry about our health," the servants replied. "Our health is very important because who will be here to take care of you if we're not here?"
"Of course, you're right," the family replied. "Go and get the best health care that you can. You're very important to us. Without to take care of us, who will be there to do the job?"
"We're glad you understand," the servants replied. "It's time to renew our contracts. Would you mind?"
"No, no, not at all, of course we will."
"Thank you," the servants said. "Would you mind giving us more money? We've noticed that some families in some other houses are talking about breaking into your house and taking all of your things. They might even kill you."
"Oh, goodness, we don't want that."
"We didn't think so. So if you give us more money, we'll be able to spy on the other families in their houses and protect you."
"Okay, that makes sense, although, we do have one small criticism. It seems like you're not working a great deal and you're ignoring some problems."
"Yes, yes, but that's not our fault. It's the other servants. They're stopping us from doing our work. We know what you want but they won't let us work. If you hire us, believe us, we'll take care of you. We'll work harder for you than anyone else has every worked for you. We love you. You're very important to us. You're the most important person in the world to me and your house is sacred to us." The servants wiped tears from their eyes.
"Don't cry, don't cry," the family replied. "We'll renew your contract, if you promise you'll take care of those problems."
"Oh, we will, we will," the servants all replied. "We'll get on it right away."
A year passed. The family's finances suffered. Investments didn't work out as planned. Customers were going to other families for business. Matters reached the point where the family found itself unable to pay for the house.
The servants had told them before that they would help them whenever the family needed help so the family called their servants for help.
The servants didn't answer.
The family's house was falling apart. They called their servants to have some repairs made. The servants didn't answer. The family now found that they had little money for food. They began starving. They called their servants to see what could be done.
The servants didn't answer.
Several family members fell ill. The tried to go to a doctor but the doctor told them he needed to know how they were going to pay their bill. They went to a hospital but the hospital was full of other family members, already there, trying to get help with their health. In desperation, they called their servants to see if they could use the servant's healthcare.
The servants didn't answer.
Fed up, the family decided to go see the servants. They were impressed with the servants' offices, clothing, hair cut and health. Their part of the house was in much better shape than the rest of the house. The servants were obviously doing quite well! Surely they could help the family.
But the servants turned them away with security police the servants had hired to protect them, because they were so important. "Stop bothering us," the servants told the family. "You're interrupting our efforts to do your business." The servants' security police sprayed the family with tear gas and beat some of them with sticks to drive them away.
"Why are you doing this?" the family asked the servants. "We trusted you."
"You're interfering with our ability to serve you," the servants answered. "We have important work for you to do. If you insist on coming here, we'll have you arrested."
The family was surprised and angry. They'd had more than enough. "We're getting rid of you," they told their servants. "You're not doing what we hired you to do."
The servants were busy traveling and arguing with other servants and having parties. They didn't answer. Then they realized that their contracts were up.
They went to the family. "Please renew our contracts. We've been working for you for years. Look at all the good things that we've done for you. Look at your beautiful home."
"But you're not taking care of the things that we need taken care of," the family replied. "Our house is falling apart. We've been starving. We've been sick. We have nowhere to work. Our customers have been leaving us. We called you to get help but you didn't answer."
"It's those other servants," the servants answered. "We want to help you but they won't let us. But if you renew your contract with us, we'll ensure we'll take care of everything. You'll see. It'll be so much better after you renew our contract. Trust us."
"Okay," the family said. "We believe you...because you are such good servants."
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com