It’s time to reinstate the national draft. Everyone over 18 gets the call. Men and women. Standard exceptions: delay for being in school and exemption for being physically or mentally incapable of working.
It’s not about “making a man” out of anyone; it’s about investing in the community. Paying dues. Taking responsibility for what is required to give us the life we’ve come to expect.
The most immediate effect would be a sudden personal interest in why we still are in Iraq and Afghanistan, why we are spending lives and treasure in Libya.
We sit on our couches and watch the evening news without actually hearing it. Is Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi still in charge in Libya? How many of his citizens have died because they dared to oppose him? Are our fighter planes and advisors actually helping anyone?
World War II is an excellent example of the sacrifice our nation’s youth are willing to endure for a cause they are sure is just and necessary.
The Vietnam War is an excellent example of the majority of our populace finally becoming fed up with raising children to add to the piles of cannon fodder in action that profits only the purveyors of guns and munitions.
Iraq and Afghanistan both illustrate what happens when few people actually know anyone who was killed or injured in deserts and mountains halfway around the world, for causes they can’t name beyond the nebulous phrase, “homeland security.”
Service does not have to be military. I often wonder why only our warriors are called servicemen and servicewomen, and those who carry our flag in more peaceful ways, are not considered to be serving their country. Why, for instance, do we not count our young men and women in the Peace Corps, working in Central and South America, Kazakhstan, and the Ukraine, helping provide education, health care, food security and small business development – often experiencing risk as high as for a soldier in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Maybe our “draft” could give credit to those who serve their communities as firefighters or police officers. Maybe extra credit for volunteering, taking unpaid risks for their neighbors health and welfare.
Any officer of any organization, from the Elks Club to the United States of America knows there are three levels of membership:
- Those who take an active part;
- Those who support it with their dues but rarely, if ever, even attend meetings; and
- Those who reap the benefits without actually investing anything.
Most of us fall in the middle group. We pay our taxes, however grudgingly, and hope no one calls on us to actually do anything.
The result is the feud going on between Congress and the White House, where those who should be attending to leading the nation have instead the primary goal of ensuring the president is not re-elected.
The result also is felt in the Commonwealth, where cuts to education and social services cause day care centers to close and schools to scramble so the governor can make good on his promise to block taxes on industry that increases profits and the ranks of the unemployed.
And the result is an “economic draft” in which bankers declared “too big to fail” wallow in their vaults while under-educated, unemployed youth face a choice between the military and the cocaine industry.
We should require a period of national service – in the military, the Peace Corps, or any of numerous other investments in the common benefit. We should require everyone who is able to invest his or her own time and sweat in this experiment that offers them the freedom and rights we so strongly proclaim …
Before the experiment fails, and we all are left to wonder why.
Photo by U.S. Army
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