I lost my drive in life to serve and help others. What should I do?

Most of my adult life, I was motivated by a quote from Horace Mann: "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."

To provide some perspective, I served in the US military, having spent some time overseas, and got out a few years ago. Ever since I was in, and years after I had been out, my focus was on finding a role that would allow me to continue serving and helping others. Several things crossed my mind: I thought that I could dedicate myself to starting a company, returning to work for the government, or perhaps even running for office, all with the end goal of achieving some position that would allow me to help people. I'm even pursuing a graduate degree in economics, partly motivated by the thought that doing so would make me a better and more informed public servant.

My desire to serve began to change in the past few years, particularly since Trump got elected. On its own, his election isn't the critical factor, but rather, what his election says about the very people I was looking to serve. If I've learned anything in the past couple of years, it is that I live in a country that is increasingly indefensible. Perhaps the most salient example I can point to is the Sandy Hook massacre: I live in a country where someone could go into my daughter's kindergarten class, shoot her dead, and a sizable portion of the population would think it an acceptable sacrifice for their freedoms. Why would anyone want to serve this system?

I'm currently in a good job and my family and I are finally able to relax after years of struggling. My family (wife, parents, sister) felt that my focus on serving, specially after the tough times we went through since my separation from the military, was misplaced. In their view, my realization that serving really isn't worth it represents me arriving late to a party that has been going for some time. "Better late than never," I'm sure they'd say.

Despite all this, part of me still wants to serve. I still feel that I want to help make my country and the world better, and to use my energy in ways that improve people's lives. But I am also worried that it just isn't worth it. Perhaps I haven't yet found a cause that will inspire me to put these doubts aside and throw myself in.

I don't know. I'm hoping that the above explains the desperation I'm feeling right now. In my heart, I know I want to help and serve, but to sacrifice my time and energy away from my family, the only people who were there for me during these hard times, becomes harder and harder to justify.

I hope you can help.


/r/AskReddit Thread