Insects Versus Mother Theresa


photo by Hamed Saber


Who contributes the most to the world, humanity and everything…

A person who spends their whole life alone studying an obscure insect in the forest, and no-one ever finds out about it,


A metaphorical Mother Theresa?


The one out of the above who is most doing what they love to do, because this is what is most uplifting to the energy-o-sphere of the world… making it more possible for everyone else to be uplifted (because we are all connected and everything).


Which one would you choose? And more importantly, why? PLEASE leave your answer in the comments section below—this post will be nothing without you!

(If you would like to remain anonymous you can make up a name and leave the website box blank.)

43 thoughts on “Insects Versus Mother Theresa

  1. Kelly@SHE-POWER

    I’m sorry to be boring, but I agree with you too because we all have a unique soul journey and unique gifts that flow on from that. When you do something that fills you with joy and a sense of purpose and you can share that with the world, you uplift others and add much needed positive energy and inspiration to the world. Whether that is singing or helping people promote their businesses or writing or aid work, if it’s authentic to you then you are part of the universal force and a beacon for others.

    If we all had the same gifts and contribution then the world just wouldn’t function. Someone has to love fixing cars, accounting and examining botanicals for their healing properties, don’t they? Because I know I can’t do any of these things for myself!

    That said, I think we can really tie ourselves up in knots with the whole “what is my life purpose” thing. I know I have done a lot of that in my life, and I think the key is to live in the now, do what feels right today and slowly open our eyes to a wider vision for the future. It may reveal itself today or it may unfold one magical piece at a time our whole living years. We still have to enjoy the ride and not get hung up on a possible “destination”.


    Kelly@SHE-POWERs last blog post..Bloggers Unite for Darfur and Launch

  2. Dereck Coatney

    Whether you know it or not, you just used a form of Plato’s “Myth of Gyges.”

    Goodness for the sake of goodness itself, whether the world at large knows of the goodness or not, is the highest good.

    Is unknown human virtue a virtue? Or is the virtuous part of human virtue only a virtue if it’s a public virtue?

    The answer?

    Ask your heart…

    Excellent post.

    Dereck Coatneys last blog post..Who Will Be Caesar?

  3. Robin

    @Maya – Hi Maya – yes I think it can take quite a while to find find the things that really move us (for many people, anyway).
    @Cath – hi there and yes!
    @Kelly – You are definitely not being boring! I could quote whole chunks of what you have written – and your “I think the key is to live in the now, do what feels right today and slowly open our eyes to a wider vision for the future” is really helpful, I think.
    @Dereck – hi there and welcome! No, I didn’t know it! I am extraordinarily ignorant of all things literary – I can’t even remember where I read things I want to quote in this blog. I think you may be right about the heart thing – and thanks!
    @Vered – ha ha – actually I see it as a practical question rather than spiritual! (Should I stop muckin’ around with project X that I love and go and volunteer at a soup kitchen? etc etc). I think I’ll leave it to the other commenters to “prove you wrong” – or right! 😀

  4. Urban Panther

    Ah, okay, I was struggling here until I saw your response to Vered. Should I stop mucking around with Project X and go work in a soup kitchen? NOW I can answer this. A friend of mine has basically dedicated his life to humanitarian efforts and is well known amongst the Amnesty International community. I greatly admire him, and in the beginning of our friendship, felt less of of contributing human being than him. Then I realized, no, that’s not right. He is doing something he is passionate about, and that is wonderful. I, however, am passionate about making sure I provoke a smile or a laugh each day from someone. He’s throwing a big rock into the pond, I’m throwing a pebble. But we both our efforts ripple out and make the world a better place to live in. Conclusion: if you are not a soup kitchen type of gal, stick to Project X.

    Urban Panthers last blog post..All things for all people

  5. Stacey / CreateaBalance

    My husband’s passion is literally spending his professional career studying birds and obscure insects in the Amazon rainforest. This is his true passion and he is uncovering secrets of the Earth on his journey. Since we never truly know how our contributions to the world impacts other people, it is hard for me to define “the most”. Perhaps my husband’s work provided income to someone in the Amazon and that money saved a dying child. We never know the true ripple effect of our passions…but I know they are grand.

    Stacey / CreateaBalances last blog post..Part Two: Revisiting Life Passion

  6. Chris

    Behind Mother Theresa’s service is her passion and love for what she does that’s why she was very good at what she did.

    Hey Robin, I think you dodge your own question. What if everything being equal and both were doing what they were doing because they were told to do so? Then who’s contribution is more important? In this sense I will have to agree with Vered.

    Great Question!

  7. Grace

    Hate to disagree with the flow, but I gotta put a vote in for M.M.T. And this is why. The person alone, although they create their own personal joy, is just one person. The MMT, through her work and more importantly her teachings, has the potential to create joy in countless thousands of other people. Never discount the potential of synergy. Thank you for the challenge. Enjoyed the invitation to think! G.

    Graces last blog post..What you don’t know about charities could cost you money

  8. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work

    This is a much more challenging question than first meets the eye.
    It obviously depends on your value system as the above commenters have proven. You’ve know my favorite quote by Buechner.
    “Vocation is where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”

    Going by that I’d have to choose Mother Theresa. I can recall footage of her and I believe that she was in obvious bliss while serving. As far as a deep need she beats the insect dude hands down.

    But then if Mother Theresa didn’t enjoy her gig then I’d have to vote for love of work of course.

    I also like the new look but I also loved the old drumming photo – it was so you.

  9. Evelyn Lim

    Is this a trick question of some sort?

    I’d agree with what you said because this is exactly what I’m inclined to believe in too. The person who loves himself or herself in the purest way (and therefore does what he or her enjoys) is the light that influences all around. He or she helps to raise group consciousness.

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Blessings For Healing

  10. Jeff Baker


    You just come up with the most profound stuff. I must say that doing what I love and loving the doing of it has opened my eyes to the truest form of freedom I have yet to experience. I phrase it this way because I understand that my freedom is expanding as I open to it.

    You bless me in the simplest and most enjoyable way. Thanks Friend. Namaste” — jb

    BTW, I got a WP site up and as soon as I learn a little css, it might turn out to be a good thing, too.

    Jeff Bakers last blog post..A New Day

  11. Robin

    @Writer Dad – hi there – thanks for your perspective! And thanks about the new look – I am having some display issues with it in Firefox (it looks okay in Safari) – I’m still working on it.
    @Urban Panther – that’s an interesting story about your friend, and I think your rock-ripple thing is fantastic!
    @Stacey – WOW – how amazing! (pardon the pun?) Do you both go to the Amazon? I love your “We never know the true ripple effect of our passions…but I know they are grand.” Thanks!
    @Chris – Oh dear I wasn’t meaning to be dodging (dodgy) – I wanted to leave it open-ended! With those conditions you have put, I’d agree with you and Vered – but I guess I’m trying to contribute to the area of finding our life purpose.
    @Grace – hi there Grace and welcome! Thanks for your thoughtful comment – it’s great to see different perspectives!
    @Tom – Hi! I left it for you guys to write the question as well as the answer, really, (by putting in your own qualifications) – I’d agree that the “insect dude” would win if MT was coming only from duty and sacrifice (not joy and love). Thanks about the new theme – and about the old photo.
    @Evelyn – Oh Evelyn it’s not meant to be a trick question! Just open-ended (very), combined with my attempt at humour. I love your answer!
    @Jeff – Well now thankyou Jeff! That’s lovely to hear about how things are working for you – I will be over to your new WP site soon. Cheers!

  12. Lance

    This is a very thought-provoking question Robin. My first inclination is Mother Theresa. However, after reading the responses (Stacey comment especially) – makes me think – what do we know about what other effects the things we do are having. How can we fully know? I don’t think we can. We never know how our words, our actions, our inactions, our occupations – might change something down the road. Or down a road we are even unaware of…

    Lances last blog post..The Impact We Have On Others

  13. Harmony

    Oh my…you have really asked a great question girl. And 5 years ago I would have gone with lovely Mother T for sure. Today, I must say, that given what I know and am learning about the impact our thoughts have globally (the noosphere) I gotta go with EITHER…meaning…if Mother T loved what she did…then holy moly…(no pun intended 🙂 what a great combo service and passion. But for sure the cutie on the leaf…as he is content and happy to be…
    and that is power for sure! Thanks…this was thought provoking!

    Harmonys last blog post..Are You a “CONTROL FREAK”?

  14. Marelisa

    So we’re assuming that the person studying the insect is following his/her true passion, while the Mother Theresa is self-sacrificing her true passions to devote her life to the poor? Under that assumption I would say that the one studying the insect is contributing more to the world because I think we’re all put on earth for a particular reason and our life’s purpose is what makes our hearts sing. And who knows, maybe that insect produces a venom that is the cure for cancer, and if this person had chosen to self-sacrifice and work in a kitchen instead of devoting his life to what he truly loves the venom would never have been discovered.

    Marelisas last blog post..Success – On Your Own Terms

  15. Rita

    I had my answer all planned out, until I saw what Dereck wrote. So I guess I have to be more original. It’s a tough one, as each is admirable in his or her own way, but I’d imagine that a person who is so impassioned to live the solitary life for the pursuit of something that could alter the planet would be my pick here. The Mother Theresa’s of this world are selfless and not found often enough; yet the person working “behind the scenes” could come up with the answer to kill all of the bad bacteria in the Ganges and make it fresh, or some other thing that helps society as a whole, rather than just a “few” of the over 6 billion people on the planet.


    Ritas last blog post..Prologue: Katherine Responds to Katie’s Phone Call/Harold Responds to the News

  16. Natural

    I would say the metaphorical Mother Theresa, only because I believe in helping and sharing whatever knowledge I have with others…not keeping it to myself. Isolation is selfish, especially when you have knowledge or the ability to help someone to or be better.

    If you are doing something you really love, there is NOTHING that can keep you ‘quiet’ about it. That kind of love and passion burns like a fire inside of you and you just cannot keep it to yourself, knowledge must be shared.
    Good question, I had to think about my answer and why. Thanks Robin!

  17. SpaceAgeSage

    Hmmm … I know politicians, narcissists, and abusers who love to control others and this is their bliss. I’ve even seen them use their narcissism to help better the world. Going for what you love isn’t always energizing to the world. Sometimes doing what you hate ends up giving you insights that astound you later. Facing fear can make you stronger. When I try to center myself, follow my passion, and flow; yes, I feel better, richer, and more full of life, but even when I’m not this way, and I’m instead just rigidly following a sense of duty, I can still affect the world in positive ways. I’m not an island, either. The other people in the relationship equation can take any ripple I make and change it to another level.

    SpaceAgeSages last blog post..Does life really have an Easy Button?

  18. Robin

    @Lance – thanks for your thoughts! How can we know indeed.
    @Harmony – he is cute, isn’t he! (um… in your answer did you mean the one studying him? hehe) Like you, for me it’s the one who has the most love for what they do (as if we can compare these things, ha)
    @Marelisa – hi there – my hat goes off to you… fantastic!
    @Rita – (pssst – Dereck was getting his from Plato) We just can’t tell, can we, and thanks for your contribution!
    @Natural – that’s interesting about not being able to keep quiet about what you love. I think we generally want to share the love we feel with others, and our creativity is a way of doing that. Thanks for your answer!
    @SpaceAgeSage – hi – you know, I don’t see criminals etc as really doing what they love or following their bliss (though they may think they are) – rather, that they are coming from fear. Good point about doing things we don’t want to do turning out to be useful – I can attest to that! Thanks for your thoughts!

  19. Robin

    Oh Barbara – of course you can! I so appreciate your visit – when you are so busy – I see it’s the early hours over there at the moment. I think “both” too – it’s all in the qualifications, isn’t it! See you.

  20. Pink Ink

    Hi, found you through Barbara Swafford. :-). I have to say, that is quite a blog post title. Good job.

    As for the question, I’d have to say Mother Theresa. The insect person is cool, in his own way, but I would hazard a guess that if Mother Theresa sometimes didn’t do what she did, some people might very well have died or lived more miserable lives.

    So both are important, just the latter has MORE direct, life-changing impact on people.

    Pink Inks last blog post..High School Love

  21. Robin

    @Pink Ink – hi there and welcome! And thanks about the title! Thanks also for your views – it’s great to hear what everyone thinks (it’s interestimg how we all throw in different bits and pieces, like would happen in an off-line discussion).
    @SpaceAgeSage – hi again – life certainly is not black and white, is it!

    If anyone is reading this…

    I’m going away for 2 days, and I will be in the mysterious land of no internet. Sigh.
    [update – I’m back]

  22. Poetikat

    Hi Robin,

    When you say a “metaphorical” Mother Theresa, do you mean someone who acts as she did or the overuse of her name by the media (particularly the world of comedy, for some reason)
    Mother Theresa’s name is bandied about like some barbie doll in the hands of a toddler – her great sacrifices and outpouring of love diminished by the use of her as an example, not of the goodness, but of her unreachable height of selflessness. “Who do you think I am, Mother Theresa?” or conversely, “I’m no Mother Theresa” are common statements. I mean, we don’t use Santa Claus in this fashion, do we?

    If, this suggests that the one who studies the insect and gains great satisfaction from it is the more valuable, then I must disagree. Mother Theresa did not strive for personal satisfaction, but wholly gave of her life, her abilities and her love for others – the poor, the sick, the downtrodden – just as The Master before her. She did, and continues to elevate the universe and beyond.

    How can the secluded scientist who never shares his knowledge uplift humanity in any way? His single-mindedness can only be called selfish and insular – he is not passing on any beneficial elements to the energies of the universe.

    (I got a bit sidetracked there – but the Mother Theresa issue touches a nerve with me.)

    Poetikats last blog post..The other side of Poetikat

  23. Davina

    Hi Robin. What a GREAT question!! My answere is also the person who is doing what makes their heart sing. That gives other people permission to do what makes their heart sing. And since we all have a unique voice, we could make beautiful music together 🙂 Ok, I know, too much Pollyanna here… but that’s me and that’s my voice!

    Davinas last blog post..Stepping Out Of These Old Shoes

  24. love ely

    According to your question above: Who contributes the most to the world? The answer is no one is the most. One is the most for knowledge and one is the most for humanity. One day later, maybe there is the most again. No exact measurement for love.

    love elys last blog post..Cause and effect – an musing

  25. Robin

    @Poetikat – hi there Kat – after I put up this post I realised that Mother Theresa is often used as a metaphore for virtue—whereas I meant to compare being like “insect dude” (as Tom put it) with being someone who works tirelessly caring for other people. I thought of adding to it, but decided to leave the post as sparse as possible so people could be free to write what they wanted (with their own qualifications) – as you did! Thanks for your comment!
    @Davina – thanks Davina
    @love ely – hi there – I quite agree that we can’t compare people, their love and their contribution. The question I posted was not really meant to be doing that – but rather to stimulate some discussion on the topic of how we as individuals best contribute to humanity. All the best!

  26. Robin

    @Al – hi there – I don’t know how your answer is a cop out – I agree entirely!
    @jaky – hi there and welcome! That’s a lovely way of putting it, I think – and thankyou for your encouragement – I really appreciate it.

  27. Dot

    I think it’s really two questions. First, which one is doing more important work? and second, does following your passion mean you’re doing the most important work you can do? I’d say I agree with Vered on the first question, and on the second, I don’t think following your passion has anything to do with whether the work is impotant. If my passion is collecting stamps, how does that benefit the world?

    Dots last blog post..Haiku Friday

  28. Robin

    @Dot – I reckon that if stamp collecting was really and truly your passion, it would benefit the world more than if you did some “good works” you didn’t like doing… somehow! But then that’s just my opinion!

  29. misanthropope

    “the world, humanity, and everything” is an abstraction: meaningless. you contribute to _someone_, or you make no contribution.

    you are someone.

  30. strider

    I would vote for the Metaphorical Mother Theresa. At first, I thought the question was not comparing apples to apples because Mother Theresa also started her work in isolation, only after her work became so big that people around the world caught site of her. She was already an icon. While the person studying obscure insects might just be starting. Then I read the question again and saw the qualifier: No body EVER finds out about the person’s whole life work…Now how can that be considered a contribution to the world, to humanity or anything if no one ever finds out about it? No one but himself benefited from his work. It will die with him. As said in the scriptures… what does it benefit a man who gains the whole world but loses his soul?
    It also reminds me of the story about the three servants who were given different talents. We are all given different talents according to our capacity. It is up to us to invest them and make them grow and create value for others. We don’t have to be a Mother Theresa to make a difference, we all just have to take the first step.

    Thank you for advertising in my blog. After seeing your site, I feel like the person who was studying those obscure insects while you are the MMT.

    Have a great day!

  31. Pingback: Inner Wisdom Project: October 27th 2008 | Journey Inward Productions

  32. madona

    hi im madona and i was gonna say both but when i saw the comments i thought its good to go ur own way

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