Do Americans Need to Serve?

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

[Thanks to Forton Twelve, herbert browne, and davispeter for the nudges.]


That’s NSman as in NationalServiceMan [superciliousness / Flickr]

Last week’s show on the future of the all-volunteer military raised several questions that made us wonder about the robustness of America’s appetite for national service. Why, when we’re at war in Iraq, is most of America at WalMart? Why are well-educated elites underrepresented in the armed forces when this hasn’t always been the case? And does the fact that we’re recruiting foreigners to serve in the US military mean that our own citizens are failing in a basic patriotic duty?

The bigger question here is how do you encourage people — especially those just out of high school or college — to serve their country, either in the military or as a civilian? Are they signing up for the Peace Corps or City Year or the Army in smaller or bigger numbers than in previous generations? Does it matter whether the incentive is idealism or something more material, like money or a more rapid path to citizenship? Are the results better in a mandatory or a volunteer system? Is some kind of widespread national service actually critical for maintaining our democracy?

Tell us your stories.

Alan Khazei

Co-founder, City Year

Former fellow, Institute of Politics, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Alan Gropman

Professor of national security studies, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University

Colonel (Ret.), US Air Force

Author, The Air Force Integrates 1945-1964

Frank Schaeffer

Author, AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service — and How It Hurts Our Country, Keeping the Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps, and Baby Jack: A Novel

Seth Moulton

Captain, US Marine Corps Reserves

Served in Iraq

Currently writing a book about Iraq and national service

Bonus Tape

Earlier today we talked with Vanessa Savage who has been a youth leader at City Year since 2005. Savage says that one of the things that has changed her worldview is working with a diverse group of kids. “Some of the kids that I work with are privileged, some of them are poor, but they all have the desire to make a positive contribution to society. It’s insipring to see kids from different backgorunds working toward the same goal.”

Click to Listen to Vanessa Savage (1.4 MB MP3)

Extra Credit Reading

Via Albert A. Anderson: Jim Lehrer, Commencement Speech, Harvard University Gazette, June 8, 2006: “The most fortunate volunteer for the non-military, the less fortunate volunteer for the military. And those in between, the vast majority of Americans, do neither because they can’t afford to.”

Steve Benen, Bush breaks promise on commitment to national service, The Carpetbagger Report, June 18, 2003: “When Bush was elected, many conservatives hoped he would follow their lead and do away with AmeriCorps. In a surprise move, Bush didn’t. Instead he got behind increased support for AmeriCorps and other national service programs, including a volunteer program his administration labeled the USA Freedom Corps.”

PopeyeChicken, I was in the Peace Corps for two years. Very few people would consider that “service to our country.”, PopeyeChicken, February 22, 2004: “People like Peace Corps volunteers and related workers are in the front line in combating anti-Americanism. It might be slow, it might not be sexy or macho and there are no guns involved. But it’s the most important and most effective way to prove to foreigners that we mean well.”

Mark Shahinian, Bigger Peace Corps, Paltry Effort, The Washington Post, August 20, 2002: “In reality, the Peace Corps does more to make us Americans feel good about ourselves than it does to fight that poverty.”

Thomas a. Bowden, Compulsory Service for High School Students, Capitalism Magazine, September 1, 1998: “In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, angry parents and students took the local school board to court, arguing that such a mandatory service program for high school students imposed the kind of “involuntary servitude” forbidden by the United States Constitution.”

Bryan Bender, Military considers recruiting foreigners, The Boston Globe, December 26, 2006: “The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks — including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer — according to Pentagon officials.”


We talk about the American dream in this country, but it’s not real. There was a study done by America’s Promise recently: almost half the young people in this country don’t believe the American dream is real for them. If we had a universal system of national service with this kind of GI Bill, every single young person in this country would realize: the American dream is real for me. I have to earn it. I have to serve my country.

Alan Khazei


What I suggest is: try this GI Bill, scale it up over the next ten years. Get to a critical mass, and then the country could have a real debate — should we make this mandatory or not — once we have the infrastructure in place, once we’ve seen this idea at scale, once we see how it affects the culture of the country. Right now to say mandatory, I think, it’s fun to talk about, it’s controversial, people like to argue constitutional rights. I don’t think the country — even practically from an infrastructure point of view — is ready for that. And we don’t need it.

Alan Khazei


And [my son] decided that he wanted to go into the Marine Corps, which basically shocked me in the sense of a snob being shocked by his son making a lesser choice than I thought he had potential for.

Frank Schaeffer


I put a Marines bumper sticker on my car, went up to my garage to get my oil changed, where I’d been having my oil changed for fifteen years, and within five minutes, not to be maudlin or anything, I was standing there with tears in my eyes, actually hugging the guy who’d been changing my oil I barely knew, cause his son was in Afghanistan fighting too.

Frank Schaeffer


In a spiritual sense, I pity the people who were my son’s contemporaries who did not learn what he learned. Now, they could have learned it working with Alan, rescuing people in the hurricane. They could have learned it many other ways. In a way, I pity myself for having never done this.

Frank Schaeffer


There isn’t anybody who served in both the all-volunteer period and the draft period — and I served in both, about half my career was in the draft era — nobody would argue that the all-volunteer force is a superior force. It’s a much superior force. And anybody who understands the mechanics of compulsory service — of the draft — understands that it has to be legislated in Washington. And there has never been an equitable draft.

Alan Gropman


There’s no question that it’s a little odd that here we are four years into a war and our leadership in Washington has never asked any of us to serve — has never asked America to make any real sacrifices for this war.

Seth Moulton


I’ll tell you, I believe the country is ahead of our leaders on this. The true America came out after 9/11, after the Indian Ocean tsunami, after Katrina. Millions of Americans volunteered, donated blood, gave billions of dollars. You see it every time there’s some kind of disaster or need. It’s in the American spirit to give, but our leaders need to call on us to give, and they need to provide the opportunities.

Alan Khazei

Related Content

  • Paul K

    Slave labor for the Iran occupation.

    This administration will take any slaves it can get. Fifty year old guys pulled back into service with bad backs, hungry foreigners, they’ve been taking criminals lately, squishy soft standards and requirements, it doesn’t matter to this administration, as long as the slaves work for less than $2/hour. If it’s you getting abused for year after year, I’m really sorry that you got taken. No it’s not right or moral.

    Oh, the Prez is lying about the WMDs again, only this time it’s to occupy Iran. There’s a third war on, you know. They’ve been planning this political offensive since last spring.

  • plnelson

    Some people have suggested that if we had a draft this war would never have happened.

    But that’s a baseless supposition. Over 17,000 of Vietnam’s US combat deaths were draftees. That’s over 5 times as many Americans as we’ve lost in Iraq (so far) and the American public is ALREADY fed up with this little (mis-) adventure.

    The answer to the question of, “how do you encourage people — especially those just out of high school or college — to serve their country” starts with ensuring that the enthusiasm and commitment, and very LIVES of those young people will not be just tossed cavalierly into a meat-grinding machine designed to serve the cynical political goals of a small imperial-minded oligarchy.

  • polsmeth

    First we need to separate patriotism from blind service to any government policy. Patriotism – the real kind, not jingoism – is more than blind service to whatever happens to be the government of the day. It is to the ideals and standards of the country. In America those ideals and standards have been justice, freedom, liberty, equality and basic human rights. We, as a nation, have been willing in the past to defend these ideals and standards even when they are not being attacked on our land. It was patriotism to the ideals espoused by the founding fathers that launched this country, and it is ideals that will get people to serve – and defend – their country.

    The invasion of Iraq does not have anything to do with serving this countries ideals, or even with the issue of terrorism, and people are able to see that this is the case and refuse to participate in such activity. This is part of what real freedom is about after all: withdrawal of support for any policy you disagree with — Thoreau’s refusal to pay the poll tax to fund the invasion of Texas was behind “Civil Disobedience” — and you only get that freedom overtly with voluntary participation.

    Are the results better in a mandatory or a volunteer system? A voluntary system is better in a democracy — it is a way of voting on the policies of the country — thus the result is “better” regardless of how many people sign up. If you can’t get people to volunteer for a political-military program then the program is faulty or not necessary. We also do not really have a “volunteer” army, we have people that have joined the army (once there they have no voluntary right to refuse to participate). What we do not have anymore is a conscripted army (except of those who were in the “reserve”).

    Why are well-educated elites underrepresented in the armed forces when this hasn’t always been the case? Because the military doesn’t offer them anything that they cannot get elsewhere, nor does it allow them to contribute to this country in any significant way that utilizes their training or gifts. There has been a failure to engage the intellectual side, in my opinion.

    Is some kind of widespread national service actually critical for maintaining our democracy? Not really. The evidence is that we do not have any such program and we seem to be doing okay eh?

    The real question is whether this country could be improved if there were one. Let’s look at the National Guard, what it was, what this administration did to it, and what it could be:

    (1) What it was: It is the last remnants of state militias, started in 1636, and formed the backbone of the military up to the First World War. 40% of the divisions fighting in WW1 were National Guard.

    (2) What it has become: In 1903 the NG became a reserve force for the “regular” army – the federal forces. This administration has finished the process of assimilation and made it wholly part of the “regular” forces, absorbing the state militias into the federal forces.

    (3) What it could be: Rapid response for any national attack or disaster. Move the Guard back to being state militias with the added responsibility for the wider response to national disaster relief (aka Katrina) or germ\biological attack or whatever could be launched or occur within this country.

    Let each guard unit specialize in some form of additional capability – provide police forces, say, for storm devastated areas, provide field hospital services, provide shelter, and after the storm (the next Katrina?) provide clean-up services and help the communities rebuild. With a fully operational system like this we would be done with the after effects of Katrina instead of just getting started.

    These units could also be used on a voluntary basis outside the country – when a tidal wave hits Indo-china or wherever, there could be a force ready and willing to go and help.

    They could still volunteer for tours of duty in the military service with the regular army if that was their wish, but the key is volunteer, not being conscripted (as they currently are being). Personally I think that in a freedom loving democracy that every soldier should have the right to refuse to participate in a military engagement – either the cause is just and participation would be provided or it isn’t.


  • This topic is timely for a number of reasons. Congressman Rangel’s call for reinstating the draft is surely designed to lure us into a much broader discussion of the injustice on which the current structure rests. Last June Jim Lehrer, in a commencement talk at Harvard University, proposed that we think beyond the military dimension and consider national service that would incorporate nonmilitary service as well. I recently completed a series of eleven blogs and podcasts on the theme of world community that culminated in what I call a “bold proposal.” For the limited scope of the present discussion I will simply offer the following abstract:

    Swords and Plowshares: A Bold Proposal

    Abstract: Peace can only be achieved if people are both safe and secure and have the basic goods and services that are essential for a decent life. In the symbolic language of my title, we need both swords and plowshares. The United States should take the lead in developing a form of society that can serve as a model for the world. Because of excessive militarism on the part of the U.S., that is not now the case. I propose the adoption of mandatory national service for all U.S. citizens. Two years of such service would be required, normally beginning at age 18 or after completion of secondary school. Individuals should be allowed to choose the form of service from a set of broad categories all of which contribute to the security and welfare of the U.S. society. In addition to military service, citizens could choose areas such as medical service, public works, public safety, education, environmental service, and others that are essential or beneficial for the common good. This period of service should be considered (1) as part of the education needed to be an autonomous member of a free society and (2) as a necessary aspect of providing the security and welfare for the U.S. society as a whole. Those who serve in the military to fulfill this requirement should do so only to defend and secure the homeland. Those who serve in other ways should do so in the same spirit. All U.S. citizens have a moral and political responsibility to foster the world community above and beyond the interest of a single nation.

    I invite those would like to read or hear more to visit the sites that contain my full presentation.

  • nother

    Wow, inspired by this program I read Tocqueville’s take on the subject and I was of course enlightened.

    “IT is of the essence of a democratic army to be very numerous in proportion to the people to which it belongs, as I shall hereafter show. On the other hand, men living in democratic times seldom choose a military life. Democratic nations are therefore soon led to give up the system of voluntary recruiting for that of compulsory enlistment. The necessity of their social condition compels them to resort to the latter means, and it may easily be foreseen that they will all eventually adopt it. “

    Tocqueville is unequivocal in his writings on this subject. He repeats the word “necessary” when referring to mandatory service in a democracy.

    He refers to the soldiers in a mandatory service army as “private soldiers.” He writes that such men only pass through the army, therefore-

    “Such men do not contract the wants and only half partake in the passions which that mode of life engenders. They adapt themselves to their military duties, but their minds are still attached to the interests and the duties that engaged them in civil life. They do not therefore imbibe the spirit of the army, or rather they infuse the spirit of the community at large into the army and retain it there. Among democratic nations the private soldiers remain most like civilians; upon them the habits of the nation have the firmest hold and public opinion has most influence. It is through the private soldiers especially that it may be possible to infuse into a democratic army the love of freedom and the respect for rights.”

  • Forton Twelve

    President Bush in his recent State of the Union Speech:

    “… A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time. …”

    The Administration has been outlining a “Civilian Reserve Corps” for more than a year. A Congressional Research Service Report has been prepared; it documents some of the ideas which have been considered by the administration. The title of the report is “Peacekeeping and Conflict Transitions: Background and Congressional Action on Civilian Capabilities”. The report is online at:

    By one reading it describes a paramilitary constabulary force (with a judicial component) organized under the jurisdiction of the State Department. It implies that the service could be provided by private contractors. The plan is not specific to Iraq – this force will be retained for a number of conflicts to come.

    If this is what the “Civilian Reserve Corps” will be – a voluntary private (mercenary) occupation force – does it really offer a new way for us to serve where we previously could not? Or is this in-fact a way to allow the affluent and powerful to continue to avoid service and sacrifice? What danger is there in developing a mercenary force in lieu of genuine service?

  • nother

    A couple of post’s above, Professor Anderson presents his take, “Swords and Ploughshares: A Bold Proposal” I believe the professor takes the “swords and ploughshares” terminology from President Eisenhower’s speech on the “Military Industrial Complex.” I hope you will at least broach the subject of that speech in this program. To me, the industrial complex is the big fat elephant in the room whenever we talk about today’s military.

    A huge volunteer/professional army becomes a separate entity from our community almost like a separate country (it even has it’s own laws)

    As Tocqueville writes about professional soldiers, “His true country is the army, since he owes all he has to the rank he has attained in it; he therefore follows the fortunes of the army, rises or sinks with it, and henceforward directs all his hopes to that quarter only. As the wants of an officer are distinct from those of the country, he may, perhaps, ardently desire war, or labor to bring about a revolution, at the very moment when the nation is most desirous of stability and peace.”

    Did he say, “desire war!”

    Eisenhower’s words ring clear, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

  • nother
  • OliverCranglesParrot

    “The bigger question here is how do you encourage people — especially those just out of high school or college — to serve their country, either in the military or as a civilian?”

    This has actually come up with me, certainly not by my choosing. But when it has arisen, I tell them the following: The genius of this nation is that you don’t have to listen to or act upon on any advice from me or any other person who wants to make decisions for your life. If that is not compelling enough in helping you to understand the nature of things and what the stakes are, then you might find it helpful to get out and get some roaming around under your feet. Others will be facing the same difficulties.

    These choices come with weighty responsibility for us. By the time you figures this out, you may be either ready to serve honorably in some capacity or you may be absolutely impossible to manage. By the time you figure this out, the country of your citizenship may not be in such an honorable place and it may seem impossible to serve honorably.

    The further genius of this nation is that I was allowed to figure this out, for when it was explained to me this way, it made little sense at the time, full of paradox and confusion. For me, that’s one aspect of freedom. The freedom to weigh personal wisdoms, the freedom to grow into them and make it your own, and the freedom to offer it to others if you’re asked and if you’re still capable. Freedom and Service are highly reciprocal matters in my estimation. They have far greater applicability than military service.

    Now, I’m going to return back to my more cynical views on these things and ponder the current conundrum of the grave and deteriorating situation…the heartbreaking loss of irreplaceable human treasures continue…

    Thanks nother and albert for the links and the memory jogging…

  • I’m a patriotic American and I’ve always found it very rewarding to serve my country. Ronald Reagan didn’t end the nuclear arms race, I did! (well, me and a few thousand other anti-nuke activists). I’ve worked real hard to get my country out of some very bad wars and I dedicated years of my life to defended our public lands from corporate abuses. I didn’t get any breaks on my student loans for all this service. It has always been a labor of love.

    When I was a college freshman we used to roll out of our dorm bunks and put the Woodstock Album on the side that started with the cut from Jefferson Airplane, Volunteers of America! just to pyche ourselves up to go out and volunteer to stop the war in Vietnam. Talk of volunteerism always brings Grace Slick’s voice blasting right back into my mind.

    Volunteers of America by Jefferson Airplane

    Look what’s happening out in the streets

    Got a revolution Got to revolution

    Hey I’m dancing down the streets

    Got a revolution Got to revolution

    Ain’t it amazing all the people I meet

    Got a revolution Got to revolution

    One generation got old

    One generation got soul

    This generation got no destination to hold

    Pick up the cry

    Hey now it’s time for you and me

    Got a revolution Got to revolution

    Come on now we’re marching to the sea

    Got a revolution Got to revolution

    Who will take it from you

    We will and who are we

    We are volunteers of America

    Volunteers of America

  • herbert browne

    (Re: polsmeth) ..”Are the results better in a mandatory or a volunteer system? A voluntary system is better in a democracy — it is a way of voting on the policies of the country — thus the result is “better” regardless of how many people sign up. If you can’t get people to volunteer for a political-military program then the program is faulty or not necessary..”-

    By the same token, would a “voluntary” education system be better, as a way of “voting on the values of literacy” (& all the rest of the socializing milieu that follows from group education)? As a nation we have decided “no”… generally. The “result is better” when we have something in common… which means signing up as many as possible. In some “future-perfect world”, if you can’t get people to sign up, it may be that we’ve reached a level of personal safety & general prosperity in which no one feels any need to pursue something that can be dangerous, poorly remunerative, and not intellectually stimulating. As a nation that’s as dynamic as ours, though, the likelihood is small that economic & social pressures won’t continue to play a large part in military recruitment.

    One could consider mandatory universal government service as an opportunity to move education “outside the box” (of the classroom) and into the classroom of hands-on applications. One logical outcome- a desirable one, by my lights- may be a stronger commitment on the part of young people to exercise their right to Vote- because they will be able to make a more realistic appraisal of what various policies mean, in practice- ie they’ll have “experience”. This also might make it easier for young college students to take those first years of study a bit more seriously; and the sorting out of pursuits- both the educational & vocational- may be simpler to sort out, as well… ^..^

  • herbert browne

    Thanks, nother… it’s good to read Ike, again. Here’s another that I’ve got on the wall, somewhere… a quote from one of my favorite “bleeding heart liberal” models: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower

    April 16, 1953

    Sound like any generals you’ve heard, lately? ^..^

  • nother

    Thanks Herbert browne, that’s powerful stuff. It’s amazing because that quote is the anti-war message of MLK. He was adamant that the money for the war in Vietnam should have been used for the war on poverty. Who would of thunk it, Ike and the King.

    ROS posses the question:

    “how do you encourage people — especially those just out of high school or college — to serve their country”

    This is how you do it. You prime them for years with TV commercials; the US Army alone spends 200 million a year on advertising. Then you send a contingent of your soldiers into the high schools to forge relationships with the kids who aren’t thinking about college yet. These soldiers have been trained with commercial sales techniques and they use them to sell the product of the Army. In the small picture, they sell job skills, money for college, and they offer op to 40, 000 to enlist. In the big picture, they sell the idea of serving something bigger than yourself.

    To a disillusioned high school kid, this idea of serving something bigger than yourself is seductive. It’s why so many 18-year-old Iraqis (facing a bleak future) have taken up arms for the “greater good” of their sect.

  • plnelson

    PeggySue writes . . .

    I’m a patriotic American and I’ve always found it very rewarding to serve my country. Ronald Reagan didn’t end the nuclear arms race, I did! (well, me and a few thousand other anti-nuke activists). I’ve worked real hard to get my country out of some very bad wars and I dedicated years of my life to defended our public lands from corporate abuses. I didn’t get any breaks on my student loans for all this service. It has always been a labor of love.

    I also demonstrate my patriotism by dissent. I’m a member and financial supporter and activist in various environmental and civil-liberties organizations. Who is making a bigger contribution to society, a lawyer for the ACLU who defends some part of the Bill of Rights from yet another assault from the Bush administration, or a bored draftee peeling potatoes on KP duty?

    In addition to that I contribute to my nation by being a good employee and helping my company, which employs thousands of people and contributes billions of dollars to local taxes, to be successful.

    Bill Gates dropped out of college to build a company that has created employment for 10’s of thousands of people, and billions of dollars of tax revenue. In addition, software tools made by his company (Visual Studio, C#, etc) are used by millions of prgrammers around the world to create more well being. Gates’ charitable activities contribute to health and well being all over the world. What if he had been drafted instead? Would his contributions been as great?

  • After a conversation with a buddy of mine that served as an Army Ranger, I was struck with the thought that for any young person who wanted “to serve,” it was much easier to head to the military recruiter’s office than to do anything else. Any other kind of service, like City Year or Americorps, was either tied to college education or not as direct as military service.

    I’m not totally against the idea of compulsory service, but first I’d like us to try making non-military service as easy and direct as military service. If I could have gone down to the “citizen’s service office” after high school, just like my brother went to the Naval recruiter, I probably would have done my two or four years.

    Also, Gary Hart’s concept of of a broader citizen army for the common defense I think is relevant.

  • Oh yeah, and I’m not talking about a “citizen’s reserve corp” that would assist military operations, but rather a domestic service program like Americorps, but on a much broader scale. But would also pay a living wage, have housing tied to it and not necessarily be connected to college.

  • “The evidence is that we do not have any such program and we seem to be doing okay eh?”

    Are we? Have you noticed how much closer to a totalitarian state we moved in the past 6 years?

    Not that required service would have stopped that. Although, if every citizen was required to spend some time really learning about and absorbing the ideals of democracy and the privileges, responsibilities and accountability that are needed to uphold those ideals, perhaps we’d have a more thoughtful voter base.

  • I myself did two years of service with Americorps NCCC in Denver in 99 & 2000. When I applied for this program I was 18 years old, out of high school with no clue of what I wanted to do and the need to learn. That year over 3500 young men and women applied for this program and only 800 where accepted and the 2nd year 7000 applied and still only 800 made it. This program because I am part of the Americorps Alumni has grown in acceptance and young people wanting to do there part while they are not jaded and still very much idealistic.

    It was the best and worst two years of my life, hard but very much rewarding. In the NCCC you focus on unmeet human needs, public safety, disaster relief, and enviroment. I went all over the country meeting and working with some of the most amazing people. I saw people that gave every bit they could to help people and places that needed it.

    I stay in touch with my fellow americorps alumni….we are a network of people who still are very idealistic. We see where people have went, many have continued to the Peace corps, which I envy a great deal.

    This is how I feel that everyone out of high school should do one year, if only one year of service to meet people who will keep you inspired the rest of your life.

    The one problem we face is that the budget for the Americorps and National Service branches of the government have been drastically slashed, leading so far to cutting many americorps programs and closing 1 of the 5 Americorps NCCC locations.

    The impact we and I know I had on some people was so fantastic that every important thought I have today still starts with ” when I was in Americorps”. I wish that many others will be able to do that also.

    I myself am very against war and the killing of thousands of innocent people. I think there needs to be other means for young adults to give back to there country then risk there life.

    There is plenty of work that needs to be done from the countryside to the urban cities.

    I highly promote and extend to everyone I know the importance of giving back.

  • Also want to mention my thoughts are not that of a republican or democrate. If people remember that Americorps was a program that was invented and thought up by the George H Bush and then passed once Clinton took over.

    So this is a for everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • plnelson

    a domestic service program like Americorps

    So basically that would federalize the kinds of social services in housing, neighborhood cleanup, eldercare, after-school programs, etc, etc, that Americorps does now.

    Why is this a Good Thing? By making it a federal program, e.g., as a civilian version of the Armed Forces, you’ll add an extra layer of cost, bureaucracy, standardization-from-Washington, onto existing programs from the Red Cross, Habitat For Humanity, and local citizen’s action groups, that AmeriCorps works with now.

    Furthermore the real problem in many of the communities where Americorps works is a breakdown of community responsibility and organization among the people who LIVE there. Already we have the phenomenon of fresh-faced, idealistic young people coming in from the suburbs to help clean up problems in decaying urban neighborhods where many of the locals loiter on steet corners, join gangs or just hang out. Thus there is ALREADY a surplus of available manpower among the locals that’s not being utilized, so bringing in an “army” of outsiders will do nothing to make them more self-reliant or more interested in addressing the social problems in their own midst. To the contrary, it is likely to reinforce the notion that it’s up to Washington to come in and fix problems in local communities that the locals themselves need to take more responsibility for.

    These civilian work corps concepts are popular among old lefties who pine away for the days of FDR and the CCC and WPA. But FDR was addressing a different problem – a high unemployment rate – something we don’t have today.

    Before we create a huge, new multi-billion-dollar federal agency , the onus is on the proponents of this scheme to demonstrate that it will actually work to fix a problem that we actually have.


    The point of Americorps is to enable the community to help it’s self. It is to show people basic skills to make them self suficent. There was one program in which I worked that we said no to for the following year it was for the CAP program in Tulsa OK that kept putting in request for Americorps when we realized that there community was 100% able to do such a thing. It is training them to know what to do..

    I myself did not come from a middle class home, I was one of the few on my team that was there because this was one of my FEW options.

    Give a men a fish he has food for a day, teach a man to fish he has food always..

    That was our focus for the most part….Enable people to do it themselves.

  • rc21

    mscrystallee, I would have to say Americorps seems to be a waste of money as these inner cities you are trying to help don’t seem to be making much progress. Crime, poverty, women having children out of wedlock and other socially disfunctional behaviour seem to be on the increase.

    People who live and work in these neighborhoods need to fix the problem not some outsider who spends a short time in these places,then moves on to their own little safe world. Of course they feel so good about themselves because they have satisfied thir liberal guilt by pretending do have really made a difference.

  • plnelson

    Give a men a fish he has food for a day, teach a man to fish he has food always..

    That was our focus for the most part….Enable people to do it themselves.

    But very few ordinary people have the skills to be teachers.

    So if they created a civilian service version of the military on a similar scale (1.4 million people) it would not be just to teach. Remember: the concept being discussed here is to create a civilian alternative for young people to go into after they leave school, instead of the military. Most of those young people will have neither skills to impart, nor aptidute to be teachers. So inevitably they will be doing the actual labor of cleanup, construction, eldercare, etc.

  • I think Americans serve plenty by default. In my town there always seems to be a fund raiser for some one who is seriously ill but has no health insurance. We sent a team from our volunteer fire department and emergency medical crew to New Orleans right after Katrina. They worked like crazy in very gruesome circumstances. True, when you are volunteering with no government support you are not incumbered by governmental paper work but it can be very lopsided and there are big cracks in the plan of relying only on the generosity of others. For example people who are more well known and loved and are sick without health insurance have more succesful fundraising events (and of course it is still never enough). Volunteers get exhausted after a while and need to take care of themselves and their own families. If our government were not so lame and ineffective and spending all of our tax money on forign adventures or just giving it back to the wealthy maybe some of these domestic problems would not be putting such a strain on local volunteers. Thanks to Bush we don’t even have our National Guard around these days to pile up sand bags when the rivers flood. They are dying in Iraq. We need to bring them home. We don’t need a troop surge in Iraq we need (still!) to surge them on down to rebuild New Orleans.

  • So an alternative to the military would breed the same type of people that can be trained and most men and women that join the military are capable of leading and teaching.

    So in turn most people would be able to “teach” others on how to be self sufficent.

    I could sit here and list the people that have been served by national service groups such as City Year, Americorps and Vista members.

    It is not a waste of money, I feel every bit that the people in these organizations gives may change 1 or it may change 100 peoples lives.

    We are a very idealistic country thinking that change can occur all around, in this country and in others. But someone needs to make the change.

    The military waste money everyday butting into other countries business. We need to start at home and once our country is strong in all aspects from health care to homelessness we can then offer help.

    Yes I understand that we being the most powerful country in the world has to do our part but enough already, give our military something worth doing.

    I am sure an Americorps Living stipend of $150 bucks is not breaking the bank, when called onto projects outside the local area in the NCCC the people who needed the help must supply the food and housing. So please tell me how this compares to the cost to run & train a military enlistie.

  • plnelson

    So an alternative to the military would breed the same type of people that can be trained and most men and women that join the military are capable of leading and teaching.

    . . .

    So please tell me how this compares to the cost to run & train a military enlistie.

    #1 – Most people in the military are good at following, not leading. Officers and NCO’s lead; have you noticed PFC’s having much leadership skill.?

    #2 You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If this concept is envisioned to offer a civilian alternative to the military then it’s going to cost lots of money. A US Army private makes $1800/month PLUS free room and board and clothing allowance and medical care, plus training. To make it attractive on a wide scale you will have to offer similar incentives, too, such as college-tuition benefits, VA benefits, career advancement possibilities (i.e., the same way that a military recruit can look forward to advancing to an officer’s commission and rising up) etc.

  • Ben

    Mandatory National Service might not be a bad thing if it wasn’t wrapped up entirely in the military complex. If citizens were allowed to choose different areas of focus, including the sciences, arts, education, and health services there could be a lot of benefit in mentoring and knowledge sharing. It could be made attractive through an education bonus and tax incentives for the inductees and their parents if they are under 25.

    The nation knows how to do positive things like this. In 1932 Roosevelt pushed through the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps, stating: “We are clearly enhancing the value of our natural resources and second, we are relieving an appreciable amount of actual distress.”

    Though to a lot of the hyper successful post-Reagan me-generationites it sounds straight out of the Wobblies’ camp guidebook, I’d like to hear more language like that coming from DC again. In 1942 Congress stopped funding the CCC due to the expanding war needs. More than seventy years later you can see the works of the CCC within many of the Public Lands we now take for granted. It was among, if not the most successful and popular of FDR’s initiatives. I wonder if anyone will be able to say anything like that about New Orleans in 2075?

  • plnelson

    Though to a lot of the hyper successful post-Reagan me-generationites it sounds straight out of the Wobblies’ camp guidebook, I’d like to hear more language like that coming from DC again. In 1942 Congress stopped funding the CCC due to the expanding war needs. More than seventy years later you can see the works of the CCC within many of the Public Lands we now take for granted. It was among, if not the most successful and popular of FDR’s initiatives. I wonder if anyone will be able to say anything like that about New Orleans in 2075?

    As I said above, CCC and WPA were designd to address entirely different problems. You have to decide what the problem is you’re trying to fix before you can design a program for it. My understanding of the goal of this scheme is to have an alternative to the military that provides the same attractiveness and benefits as the military, without requiring the people sign up to killing or getting killed.

    And I’m guessing that all anyone will be able to say about New Orleans in 2075 will be “blub blub . . .blub . . . “

  • Since Americorps NCCC is a take off of the CCC in the 30’s it does serve alot of the same areas such as enviroment and perserving/ building public lands.

    The NCCC stands for National Civilian Community Corps..

    I was fresh out of high school and may have not had much life experience but the one thing an 18 year old does not lack is ambition and drive.

    I would take the energy of a 18 year old that you can still train/teach over a 36 year old already stuck in there ways to motivate others.

  • plnelson: In terms of the local/national angle on where the direction could come from. Since 9/11 there has been a lot of movement on the service front in terms of local organizing. A lot of this has been in the disaster preparedness areas, but there is something to be said for national funding going to state organizations that help organized local and multi-county efforts. It seems to be pretty seamless as it goes down the chain, at least here in Washington State.

    Anyway, a lot of states still have “State Guards,” which are sort of remnants of the old militias before they became part of the National Guard. The state guards are solely for homeland operations, and I could see reinvigorating these state guards for a broader, non-military, service focus.

  • rc21

    Why don’t we just give the billions of dollars it would take to train the million plus Americorps or ccc or whatever you want to call it, to the poor people. Couple this money with welfare, food stamps, head start, free government housing,medicare, SISdisability, free schooling,job training, and various other federally mandated social welfare programs that were never envisioned in the constitution. Do you think then that the problems of the inner-cities and other poor areas will be alleviated?

  • plnelson

    but there is something to be said for national funding going to state organizations that help organized local and multi-county efforts. It seems to be pretty seamless as it goes down the chain, at least here in Washington State.

    Sure, there’s any number of things that COULD be envisioned but I think this whole discussion here is too vague with respect to clear goals and objectives to be productive.

    Let’s face it – there are already plenty of opportunities for idealistic young people to express their patriotic fervor by going out into the community and Doing Good Things. So we have to agree on what the specific things are that we are trying to do that’s different from what already exists. Almost all of the serious proposals that have come from national leaders for some kind of civilian service program have focussed on an alternative to the military that offered similar incentives and opportunities as the military. What I’m hearing here is that some in this discussion simply want more federal funding for existing domestic NGO’s.

  • I agree that additional programs would be great but why reinvent the wheel there is plenty of good organizations out there that need more support, that do more good than not.

    I think anything other then the military for young people is a great choice, why should young people feel that is there only way “out” from there current situation.

    Give them incentives but paying them right out is not doing service, I feel a small living stipend and insurance can be good enough.

  • ben says:”If citizens were allowed to choose different areas of focus, including the sciences, arts, education, and health services there could be a lot of benefit in mentoring and knowledge sharing. It could be made attractive through an education bonus and tax incentives for the inductees and their parents if they are under 25.”

    This is an interesting idea. Re-instilling the concept of apprenticeship. As long as it can be updated so that the apprentice is not an indentured servant, I like the concept. As college becomes more and more expensive and, also becomes a norm which means that the diploma doesn’t carry much job-hunting weight, going back to apprenticeships would be nice. If there was a way to formalize it so that employers and apprentices saw benefits, it could be an excellent service society.

  • rc21

    It’s called trade school or vocational school. They are free.

  • 1st/14th

    #1 – Most people in the military are good at following, not leading. Officers and NCO’s lead; have you noticed PFC’s having much leadership skill?

    You do know officers and NCO’s comprise 80% of the Armed Forces? And yes, I have met many, many PFC’s who exhibited remarkable leadership skills.

    Anyhoo, compulsory national service is little more than state enforced slavery, and reminds me of hundreds of thousands of peasants toiling in the Kolyma gold mines. The more that the individuals who comprise an organization actually want to be there, the more effective it is. Our armed forces are as professional and effective as they are because, by and large, the individuals want to be a part of the organization.

    Well educated “elites”, or more appropriately their children, are underrepresented from several reasons. More often than not, being in the military is a family affair, regardless of social status. Young men and women typically follow in their parents footsteps. Most wealthy and educated people spent their young adulthoods working on their business adventures or their education, and the armed forces are a place primarily for the young.

    Sadly though, I feel this is only a minor part of the issue with “elites” not serving. I really feel that many of the more “educated” class feels it is beneath them to serve, a point reinforced by the experiences of Frank Schaeffer

    Living on Boston’s North Shore, filled with tweedy people living stodgy lives in the shadow of Harvard, I never imagined that my son, John, would begin talking to Marine recruiters before graduation from a private high school. I never imagined he could do something that I then regarded as insanely self-destructive. When he announced at graduation that he was going into the Marines, the other parents would not look in our direction. Their kids had all named top colleges they would be attending.

    “What a waste,” commented a parent seated near me.

    “We should carefully evaluate what went wrong,” said another parent, a professor of history.

    Later, when my neighbors asked about where John was in school, I hastened to mention my other two very successful children. Yet I felt like Judas. I finally started to understand that it was degrading to have to justify John’s being a Marine to people who struck me as snobs — people like me who never lifted a finger for anybody. We didn’t “do” selfless. We were selfish. Finally, John’s service threw my life into sharp perspective in a new way. He connected our family to our country in a deep way.

    How many of our “elite” universities still have ROTC programs, or for that matter, even allow recruiters on campus an more? The disdain that our privileged elite and thinking classes shows is disgusting. But that’s not to say all “elites” are like this, Michael Leeden, for example, has a son in the Corps.

    I guess the short answer to this question of “service” would be to call on our leaders and those to represent us to remind us why we should volunteer in the first place.

    p.s. You should have had Nathaniel Flick on the show.

  • OliverCranglesParrot
  • I have to agree with the elitism but I am not one of them. But a large precentage of the people I was in Americorps with came from very affulant backgrounds. Many came from upper class while just a few of us came from working class familes

  • polsmeth

    Comments in reply to my comment did not use a single example of what was learned from school but only what was learned outside. Those experiences are learned outside school whether you are in the army or not.

    The answer did not address academic training but other training.

  • dkr

    YES, we need to serve our country. Personally, I am grateful to my grandfathers, my great uncles, my father, and my uncles who all served this country and feel it is my duty to do the same so everything they, and all others who have served, fought for is preserved for future generations.

    By the way, on Generation Next, (link below), they said something like 70% of all “generation nexters” volunteer.

  • Yellow1

    You’re averting your attention from the reality that this and most other recent wars are basically illogical exercises for national vanity ,and most who serve are attempting to make them glorious missions. If we could replace troops ,gradually with Peace Corps volunteers the situation would be fixed.


  • Igor

    This smooth-talking marine seems to have had it real hard in Iraq… The following is from WSJ :

    “As for television, an enterprising young Harvard graduate and physics major, Marine Corps Lt. Seth Moulton, founded his own television show, “Moulton and Mohamed.” …

    “Moulton and Mohamed” featured the lieutenant and his translator, who ventured into town together and reported–truthfully–on what was happening. New medical supplies today arrived at the hospital and a destroyed elementary school was rebuilt. The local Iraqi town council met to discuss how to increase the output and availability of electricity. The Americans provided jobs to 300 Iraqis, who now have been tasked with cleaning up the Babil Province.”

  • Igor

    Wait, there’s more from the same source:

    “Public relations initiatives,” Mr. Watson informed NPR’s listeners, “include this TV show called ‘Moulton and Mohammed’–or the ‘M&M show.’ It’s a half-hour program on U.S.-Iraqi cooperation, hosted by Lt. Seth Moulton and translator Mohammed Fawzi. The production standards are crude, and yet the show has turned one of the hosts [Lt. Moulton] into a minor celebrity.”

    Celebrity, huh? And I wonder why he mentions Gen. Petreaus so casually…

  • infomod

    I am so glad to see this topic being discussed. I have wondered (often out loud) when “the decider” would decide to ask for US to do something besides look the other way as we reach 10 trillions dollars in debt and spend $ in the economy.

    In my understanding of history every time we have gone to war there has been explicit and specific asks and sacrifices that the masses have been asked to contribute: a draft, war bonds, and rationing are a few that things the come to mind.

    And if the decider had decided to ask us to do something after 9/11 I am sure EVERYONE would have done what was asked. I would have taken a year off from my regular life to contribute without a second thought. The whole world would have done what was asked and all we could come up with is to ask everyone to “please send human fodder and $’s for war”. Embarassingly simplistic thinking.

    And in my understanding of the rules of war, the victor is legally and morally obligated to fix things after vistory. We took that to an incredible level and set a precedent to follow after WWII setting Japan (for instance) on a course of prosperity that amazes even to today.

    And finally, if we do not change the conversation, or at least add a new element to the conversation that is not violent and starts to make the people-to-people connections that can lead to peace and understanding we will certainly fall hard and fast as a society and country. And the way down will continue to be bloody and ugly.

  • polsmeth

    Last laugh: when someone says “I couldn’t disagree more” and then goes on to make your point.

    The comment quoted on the program (out of much more applicable comments imho) was “Because the military doesn’t offer them anything that they cannot get elsewhere, nor does it allow them to contribute to this country in any significant way that utilizes their training or gifts.”

    The subsequent comments were about how the military does not offer an appealing alternative to the university program and as a result that many don’t even consider it as an alternative. Then they discussed how that could be improved with additional programs and appeals. Finally talk moved back to alternative service – service that would make use of special training and skills learned in school: service that would appeal to university types as an alternative to military service, and THEN let them consider military service.

    Personally I think other comments of mine – especially regarding what a redefined national guard could be – were much more on the topic than what was cherry picked for broadcast.


  • “It’s called trade school or vocational school. They are free.”

    What I’m talking about is different. You get your training from a specific mentor by working at that company. You work at a low pay scale and with a curriculum that guarantees you’ll have gotten the training you need to get licensed or be able to practice on your own. The employer gets some sort of tax break or other incentive. (I’m just brainstorming the details here) And there may be some sort of quarterly or bi-annual meeting of people in these programs and an oversight group associated with a college or trade organization. This kind of training could happen in any field: engineering, weaving, stock brokering, radio production, you name it.

    Basically, take non-intellectual pursuits out of the university system. Allow people to get entry-level employment and meaningful trade training without the accumulation of enormous student loans. And make it the normal practice. You only go to university to study academic pursuits that can’t be directly applied in the field.(That’s not exactly the way to say it, but you can get the gist of what I’m aiming for.)

    Trade schools are free? Wentworth institute of Technology is not free.

  • Bay

    For me, this questions leads directly to a basic evaluation of the american democratic experiment. Does Democracy scale?

    On the one hand, America sees itself as the land of the free. A plural society, where the rules of a caste system are not valued. But on the other hand, citizens of other countries follow our elections as closely as they do their own. Our economy, our culture, our inlfuence can be felt everywhere. If a teenager anywhere on the globe wants to achieve great heights, America and its immigration policy, market, or cultural influence is going play a very tangible role in that person’s life. To some exent, the rest of the world has two nations, it’s own, and the USA. This is not too dissimiliar in my mind to how we treat Federal and State governments.

    The issue of who serves comes to a head here. The nations of the rest of the world are reaping benefits, shouldn’t they pay some of the costs? To me, this is THE question american’s have to face. Here’s why. Because for most nations, there is no bill of rights or constitution to address their participation with the US. Their is no elections to manage their representation to the US. For me I think of conscription, or serice as a tax. Because of this, when “George” Bush Jr. asks the world to help share the burden of global leadership – it is very easy to imagine the reply coming back “no taxation without representation”.

    and that’s where the debate between rich and poor, state and fed, red and blue starts to have a great deal of relevance. As the world shrinks, and democracy grows, how are we going to ballance power between local and global interests. Who serves indeed.

  • godzilla

    As an avid listener, I hope ‘open sores’ has enjoyed its orgy of ideological fascination with the trope of fraternity in the guise of ‘service’ to the US and neocon excess, arrogance, and ignorance in the Middle East. Some distance from any ideological capture is a perspective that might serve us all. This discussion cared little about the carnage the US military has brought to bear on the peoples of Iraq. What does that matter as long as one feels whole, invested, and important among one’s comrades and peers? If this has ‘taught’ some preppy ‘leadership’, perhaps that ‘education’ should be seen also as elitist and as coming at the expense of the senseless deaths of many.

    “We want to kick some ass!!!” or do we forget how our charged forces surrounded Iraq with bluster and alarm and overloud dead metal music as military talking heads and average Joes and Josephines echoed Cheney lines about Saddam’s trespass and evil intent. Now somewhere between 70k and 600k Iraq lives have been spent exercising our ‘fraternity’ against a false cause.

    Shame on open sores. And we are content to subjectivize the lives and persons serving and lost on our side while ignoring the excessive Iraqi human tragedy, suffering, continuing violence, and innumerable lives lost. And this doesn’t begin to address the wholesale destruction of their infrastructure and cultural artifacts accomplished with ‘shock and awe’ and the resulting chaos idiot Rumsfeld called the messy business of ‘democracy’.

    Any attempt to valorize aggression and brutality is wrongheaded, and America’s failure to count the military as complicit ignores how such ideological efforts must receive support from collective and organized activities preying on the basic human need for meaning and belonging too often misrecognized as ‘truth’ and manipulated by self-interested power brokers.

  • mediabloodhound

    A few things not mentioned on your broadcast tonight:

    There are many, many ways to “serve your country” without putting on a uniform and agreeing to kill other people. NOT agreeing to kill people, especially in an illegal war such as Iraq, is but one example of how one could presently serve his country. Protesting against this pointless war of choice is another way one can serve his country.

    I happened to choose to do some of those things, as well as to point out irresponsible journalism, under- or unreported news and administration lies, and consider this as much serving my country as your guest’s service as a Marine. I’d go a step further and say that though it may take bravery to put oneself directly in harm’s way in battle, bravery does not necessarily mean you’re always doing the right thing.

    History is strewn with the dead bodies of brave soldiers who died for both just causes and unjust causes.

    Doing the right thing when people are looking and when they’re not, speaking truth to power when it’s not popular and continuing to do so when it is, concern for how war actually impacts the lives of innocents as well as the soldiers…is an act of bravery, serving one’s country and doing the right thing.

    With all due respect, the college-student-turned soldier on your show tonight, with the exception of his dismay over Bush’s unwillingness to ask for sacrifice, sounded like he was reading a script from the latest military commercial. If he had no or little leadership skills before entering the Marines, then I’m glad that he at least was able to take that away from his experience. But to suggest, which he did and no one called him on it, that military service is the primary facilitator of leadership skills is patently ludicrous, misleading and, quite frankly, a dangerous received notion repeated endlessly by our leaders and members of the media establishment.

    As you well know, leadership can be learned from parents, teachers, friends, religious leaders, mentors, public figures, sports, the arts, music…so many people and so many avenues…which can then be applied to scores of jobs and civic duties that all contribute to making this country a better place while also enriching the individuals pursuing these actions.

    Moreover, your guest the Marine spoke glowingly and with tunnel-visioned certitude that anyone who joins the military will be better off for it? Tell that to the over 3,000 dead American men and women and over 50,000 wounded. Tell that to each one of their families that their deaths or shattered bodies has touched. Tell that to the young man who has one limb left and he’s only 18 years old. Or the young woman with permanent brain damage because of a roadside bomb. Tell that to the guy with PTSD who keeps seeing in recurring nightmares the skull of a dead Iraqi boy that he accidentally stepped on before knowing what it was (true story). In fact, tell it to the well-documented one in six soldiers who return from this war with PTSD.

    Your guest the Marine speaks of war as if it were a training ground, or some G.I. Joe college course, in which to learn leadership skills. How much more dislocated from the plight of other human beings suffering can one be? How much more solipsistic than to predominantly see his service, in this war that has also killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, as a crash course on leadership skills.

    It is a sad commentary on the state of our evolution as humans that killing in a war is still being presented as the primary method of attaining such skills. And, again, with all due respect, I think you do your audience a great disservice – especially some young American this might convince to join and fight in this war – to have allowed these comments to stand alone and not be addressed.

    Respectfully yours,


  • FeloniousMonk

    For those who doubt the draw a well-planned service corps would have on today’s graduate, I can speak for the untapped legion of thumb-twidling Bachelors just waiting for the right incentive to get off their collective asses.

    Our plight is that of the wallflower at the prom; it’s not that she doesn’t want to dance, she just hasn’t been asked right.

    Consider my state. At 23, I’ve spent four years and $60,000 developing my skill as a Jazz musician, and now must decide whether it’s better to throw away all that work and get a full-time job, or tack on another $10,000 in debt, on the chance that a Master’s degree might lead to a slightly-less soul-crushing career track. As for my friends, most have either moved back in with their parents, or scouring the classifieds for any job with health insurance. All of them complain about having nothing to do. Cities like New Orleans remain in ruins, yet hours that could be spent rebuilding them go to such life-affirming causes as YouTube, Myspace, and WoW.

    Can it really be reasonable to expect someone to enter their adult life bearing the debt of someone twice their age? Is it wrong to offer someone a chance at financial freedom if they devote two years to rebuilding and reviving their country?

    No, we’d never do something like this:

    The Army’s Loan Repayment Program (LRP) is a special enlistment incentive that the Army offers to highly qualified applicants at the time of enlistment. Under the LRP, the Army will repay up to $65,000 of a soldier’s qualifying student loans.

    Well, not unless you’re willing to get shot.

  • pelowok

    Psychologically, humans need to have a clear demarcation from childhood to adulthood. Service like this answers that need.

  • herbert browne

    (from pelowok) ..”Psychologically, humans need to have a clear demarcation from childhood to adulthood. Service like this answers that need..”-

    Service like what? Maybe ANY service that a young person thinks may work for them?.. while they work for others? Could be… and if it were my place to serve as distributor of the public dime, why, there’s probably some scheduled investment in weapons refinement that could be put to use training and feeding & housing some of crystallee’s peers to good purpose… or maybe an aircraft carrier that we could do without, to get more young minds engaged in simpler (& more generally helpful) things than are usually produced by having another aircraft carrier… or Argus-class cruiser… or ^..^

  • I told my nephew at Christmas that I would kidnap him and take him to Canada if he even thought about joining the military. I’m assuming the Ivy-league Marine still had all of his limbs and facial features if his college pals were really looking at him with envy.

    This show reminded me of 2 Dylan songs. First, his masterpiece, Masters of War.

    and then regarding service,

    You Have to Serve Somebody.

    It may be the Devil

    or it may be the Lord

    but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

    Bob Dylan

  • pardon me, the correct title is Gotta Serve Somebody.

  • katemcshane

    When I listen to people who are aggressively self-righteous, I get a migraine, so I had to turn off this program about 40 minutes into it (the FIRST time I’ve ever turned off Open Source). Obviously, I have nothing against people who are helping other people. I, myself, was a nun, because I believed I could devote my life to helping people. When that didn’t work out, I took a job in an anti-poverty program. This was 1969 and there were so many great neighborhood programs: antiwar groups and Black Panthers setting up community centers, programs for kids. I was 21. I actually believed it would always be like that. I thought that because things were changing, it was the beginning. I wasn’t politically savvy enough to know about backlash. I worked in one program or another that were (supposedly) designed to help people for the next 28 years. I guess I’m slow, because it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the meaning of “backlash” really began to hit me. In 1980, when Reagan and Bush got in, I knew the culture would change, but I was trying so desperately to believe that working in these jobs would make a difference, that I didn’t realize I had been treading water in a country that was being destroyed by money interests. It wasn’t until 1997 that I had a clear view of the changes in the country and it was devastating.

    Seth Moulton said that Bush hasn’t asked the country to GIVE anything for this war — to IMPART anything of themselves, I suppose he meant. WHO ARE YOU? WHERE DO YOU LIVE? The costs of this invasion to the average person in this country are unimaginably and catastrophically destructive. When I hear a comment like that, it is so overwhelming that I have to walk away just so I don’t do something I would regret. These are the same people who don’t want to hear about what really happens to human beings when money is cut from the relatively few service programs that remain. If you mention actual examples, you’re being “too negative”. Frank Schaeffer woke up to the class divide and I’m so happy for him, but the idea that the Marines are the answer is more than ludicrous. I’m sure his son is a decent man, as friends of mine who went to VietNam are decent men, but my friends live with devastating effects of that war that will never end, and their children have lived with those effects. Not to mention the effects of all this SERVICE on the people in Iraq.

    In this country, if money went into service to the people, it would be another country.

  • As an outsider to this American loveIn I was all ready to shout and then I came to these comments above and thought no need to repeat what has been said.

    Thank you Godzilla for you bite, though the name play could have be omitted.

    You said it Mediabloodhound. There are many ways to serve. Don’t many already do enough shadow work for the owners of capital?

    Peggysue, thanks for the Dylan. In those few lines he said it all almost.

    You’re right Katemcshane. This was one of ROS’s rare bombs. Chris likes to treat his guests well, which I respect, but there needed to be someone to at least seriously question the premise that supporting imperialism is service to the higher ideals of the US.

  • thank you katemcshane for so eloquently pointing out what was ‘wrong with this picture’ regarding this show.

  • Actually, shopping at Wal Mart IS the highest form of service we can give. Shopping IS what Bush asked us to do right after 9-11. By shopping we support the corporate structure that keeps those monied interests in power, the same corporate interests that the Marines are fighting for. In fact, shopping is probably MORE important to the the power structure than the Marines.

  • nother

    Thank you Katemcshane for that eloquent heartfelt blog. I have to push back though, you may feel your service for all those years may didn’t make a dent in the big political picture, but it did mean something personally to each one of those people you helped, even if it was something small. And many of those people might have gone on to help other people, and on and on – spreading from your seed of service. It may have felt like you were treading water, but your contributions along with a mass of others helped to change the currents of the water. What were the odds in 1969 that the two front-runners for president would be a woman and a black man?

    Yes there has been a backlash, but I would contend that it has translated to 2 steps back, from the 3 steps forward we took with the help of people like you. We have survived the Bush/Reagan era (almost) ahead of the gamae, and we are about to take some more steps forward, I’m sure of it!

    Keep posting Kate!

  • nother

    Everything I just said goes for peggysue as well. I Really Really appreciate you both for fighting the good fight in the service of myself and my fellow citizens. Please don’t get cynical about the 2 steps back, focus on the 3 steps forward.

    btw, peggysue, I love that Dylan song, “Gotta serve somebody!”

  •   This is to beg katemcshane to turn her OS radio (or iPod) back on; and also to say: I’m sticking with William James, who should have had more of the conversation in last night’s show on Service. Lots of commenters here think we fell into a trap : a notion of service that becomes military service that becomes war and militarism. I thought I made the point that if citizen-families had felt closer to the uniforms, the killing and other casualties and all the predictable and catastrophic costs of war on Iraq, they might have nipped a nutty, neo-imperialistic war plan in the bud. I took it that all our guests — Alan Khazei, Seth Moulton, Frank Schaeffer and Alan Gropman — emphatically concurred.

    But here’s the abiding wisdom of William James on the military model of service, from the famous speech and essay of 1906,The Moral Equivalent of War — and remember James was a scientist of the Darwin era, who loved to remind his students and readers that we are all children of martial tribes, selected according to their inherited skill with tooth and claw and mobilization for combat:

    “…modern man inherits all the innate pugnacity and all the love of glory of his ancestors. Showing war’s irrationality and horror is of no effect on him. The horrors make the fascination. War is the strong life; it is life in extremis; war taxes are the only ones men never hesitate to pay, as the budgets of all nations show us…

    “All these beliefs of mine put me firmly into the anti-military party. But I do not believe that peace either ought to be or will be permanent on this globe, unless the states, pacifically organized, preserve some of the old elements of army-discipline. A permanently successful peace-economy cannot be a simple pleasure-economy. In the more or less socialistic future toward which mankind seems drifting we must still subject ourselves collectively to those severities which answer to our real position upon this only partly hospitable globe. We must make new energies and hardihoods continue the manliness to which the military mind so faithfully clings. Martial virtues must be the enduring cement; intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command, must still remain the rock upon which states are built — unless, indeed, we wish for dangerous reactions against commonwealths, fit only for contempt, and liable to invite attack whenever a centre of crystallization for military-minded enterprise gets formed anywhere in their neighborhood.”

    It’s not exactly off-topic here to post even older American wisdom in the background of last night’s conversation.

    “Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.” from James Madison’s “Political Observations,” 1975.

    This was to be the Fourth President of the United States, uncannily anticipating where the Forty-third would deliver us, by way of Iraq.

    Madison continues:

    War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

    In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.

    The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both.

    No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

    War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it.

    In war, the public treasuries are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them.

    In war, the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle.

    The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.James Madison, “Political Observations”, April 20, 1795, in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, Volume IV, page 491.

  • 1st/14th

    Shame on Moulton for being proud of his service and talking about the positive experience he had and the way in which it enriched his life. After all, his experience and al the things he deluded himself into believing that he gained surely could have been acquired if he joined Earth First!

    Shame on Schaeffer for being proud that his son did not take the path of least resistance and instead chose to serve his fellow countrymen. Naturally the individuals that Schaeffer was critical of were correct to point out that his son was wasting his talents by serving in such a rigid patriarchal crypto-fascist cult when such service is such a better suited for a farmers son in Iowa or the daughter of a immigrant drywaller in Miami.

    And Shame on Chris Lydon for allowing the people to share their experiences with a wider audience not used to hearing this perspective in this format. What the hell do they think they are doing opening dialogue with this neo-imperialistic, garbage.

    Clearly these people should have chosen to serve humanity by protesting against a nuclear power plant, vandalizing a recruiting station, or spending their summers in Cuba cutting sugar cane so that the “revolution” could prosper and serve as model to all those enslaved by the capitalist oligarchy.

    Wow, I think I have to go vomit after writing that.

  • herbert browne

    Aw, 1st/14th… we all got enough of a load without a big sack o’ shame piled on- and this conversation is a way to just spread it out, and let everyone see it- and pick out the parts that work for them (while, maybe, keeping an eye on the folks who have picked up something different from the stuff that we have decided to take with us… and seeing what in the heck they do with Their stuff). It helps, emotionally to cast aspersions… and it has worked best for me when it comes full circle. (One of my wood-cutting buddies used to burst into song, sometimes, when we were running down someone who’d got our hair up- he’d sing “There’s NO righteous/ like SELF-righteous/ like NO righteous/ I KNOW!!!… & then we’d have a good laugh- usually). I would love to have cut sugar cane in Cuba… or scrubbed algae out of Bill Gates’ pool… because my experience has been that the best way to learn about people and their beliefs, and the generator of their attitudes is to work with/ near them, and interact- or just listen. What it has led to, sometimes, is the revelation of “wow- this person believes something really different from me”… and (assuming it’s not a ‘combat situation’) I may have the time & inclination to check out where I’m coming from, as well as critiquing their take on things… ^..^

  • rc21

    I really liked your post 1/st14/th I’m probably one of very few on this site that agrees with you.

  • cjacobrown

    I want to be part of the discussion. For years I have counseled young people to begin doing their ‘voluntary national service’. Just do it.

    I am a draft counselor and help young people build a case and file for themselves if they ever go before a draft board so that they be can be classified as Conscientious Objectors who will perform non-military service only. During the Vietnam war in many areas this was a very popular strategy for avoiding the dangerous prospect of fighting in the war and ultimately being of great service to the country. I knew that the young people who go before their draft board with a letter of support from a sevice industry representative, have a stronger case for their CO status than those who don’t.

    I think the next step will be to pressure our congressional representatives to recognize young people who wish to prove their sincerity of convictions by choosing to help our world by going into the service, or non-profit industries (during the Vietnam era the recognized non-military services included Agriculture, Education. Science, and Health).

    At the same time we should pressure our representatives to recognize all the different forms of conscientious objection that have emerged- Catholics and Methodists believe in the “Just War Doctrine” and therefor harbor many Selective Conscientious Objectors. Indeed all of these young people ought to be embraced and immediately offered CO status. Imagine how instantaneously there would be thousands, maybe millions starting in to do national service just to secure themselves the recognition as people who whould never be drafted for a military obligation.

    The Left and Right alike can unite on this kind of program.

  • Peggy Sue @ work

    “war taxes are the only ones men never hesitate to pay”

    unless you are Henry David Thoreau

    Thank you for the James Madison quote.

  • Tom B

    Too many people equate ‘serving their country’ with ‘serving the dreams of the politicians’. Never forget that Dick Cheney was ‘too busy’ to spend time in the military… The words of Gen. George Patton ring out: “The object is not to die for your country, but to make the other poor bastard die for his country.” Of course Patton was talking about German infantry and armored troops, but in today’s world it has become the slogan of the political elites, whose attitude is ‘if you go, I don’t have to go…’ Beware! When the elites ask for sacrifice, watch them closely and see if THEY and their immediate families are sharing in the sacrifice. If not, well… actions speak louder than words. (P.S. Why haven’t Cheney’s kids or Bush’s daughters ‘served’?)

  • I think too late now, but I wanted to make a much broader point, just on the general topic of service, outside of any reference to military service. And, this is somewhat connected to my first post above when I said I would have liked our non-military service structure to be as robust as our military service structure.

    I’d like our understanding of service to be much broader as well. My favorite part of the bible is the section of Ephesians where John suggests that we “be subject to one another.” Despite the much misused following passages about husbands and wives, this is an incredibly democratic phrase from the bible, that as we related to each other, we should do it in a way of being subject to one another. I think this has a lot to say about service as well in a democracy, that it is done because we want to be subject to one another.

  • Who told the Air Force to stand down on 9/11? The order came from somewhere.

    There is an open question on how valuable our military leadership training is.

    For example on 9/11 while the airliners were had not crashed into the WTC and the Pentagon, there is a gaping lack of leadership for several hours across the board from Commander-inChief to NORAD, FTC, 9/11 Commission.

    True leadership demanded that someone disobey that order and Air Force assets intercept and escort those airliners away to safely land in open fields far to the west. Abu Grahib is another appalling display of leadership failure from White House down to the boots on the ground.

    Failure of leadership there cascaded into having soldiers sent to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. As we should all know by now that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda. Had no WMD. Did not and had no intention of attacking the US. Had every right to resist UN Inspectors looking for lost “WMD” since there weren’t any.

    This radio program is based largely on military service in Iraq which is a war of choice based on “bad” intelligence at best. Someone having a Harvard education is expected to be well-schooled in critical thinking and would certainly question authority before voluntarily commiting to a military action unauthorized by the UN, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, collaboration with widespread corruption fleecing the US tax payers of billions of dollars.

  • katemcshane

    I do not believe in obedience to authority. There are people whose direction I am willing to follow in certain situations where it is clear to me that they have knowledge or expertise that I do not have. That’s where it ends for me. If you want to design programs that teach a person to find his/her own center, to become grounded by seeking within him/herself, I believe that that would be the most valuable thing you could do for this country. I believe that people are largely alienated from themselves in a capitalistic economy, a consumerist society.

    In schools at the present time, chidren do not learn how to find their own centers, to trust themselves, to seek within themselves. Many (perhaps most) families are not equipped to teach their children how to do this. We focus on children’s ability or inability to obey. They’re medicated or referred to therapists for their “issues with authority.” I’ve worked in many programs supposedly designed to help children and families and in all of them, obedience to command or respect for authority was the hidden value above all others, whether the staff was supposed to follow orders of supervisors, or the clients were supposed to obey someone on the staff who was supposed to be helping them. An unstated political agenda operated at all times. Intelligence and sanity rarely contributed to thinking among the staff. Social control was the real task and people making the rules were invariably reactionary. Class differences figured prominently. Middle class people tended to make up the staff and working class or poor people were more likely to be clients. I noticed that middle class staff often found it easier to “obey” management without question and often, even when management made outrageous policies or treated people with very little respect, denied problems.

    We want people to be in possession of themselves. We want people to be grounded. We want people to know what it’s like to respect their own integrity, to be respected. I would submit that many, many people have no idea what it means to HAVE integrity and are violated every day by bosses, teachers, parents, government officials, and other “authoritiy figures”. For the last several years, millions of people have had their own integrity violated by the president of this country and he has made it clear that he couldn’t care less what it feels like or what they think, because what they want, what they believe means nothing to him. This is no different (except in scale) from what is happening to people all their lives.

    So, no, I would not go along with national service that emphasized obedience to command. I think it’s not a question of EITHER a “simple pleasure economy” or the inculcation of military values. I believe in self-discipline and self-possession. I believe in integrity and whatever any of us has to do to respect others’ integrity. Maybe that’s what emmettoconnell means by being subject to each other. I learned at a too early age what it means to have authority figures violate my integrity and I’ve been looking at authority with suspicion ever since. It has only been in the last few years, while meditating and reading about Eastern philosophies that I’ve learned about bringing my soul into balance.

    It seems to me that if we could teach children about bringing their souls into balance, we might be able to think about national programs to allow people the opportunities to help other people with compassion, programs that would be run collaboratively, where everyone involved would learn from everyone else. This is where our strength would come from.

  • rc21

    Should no child ever have someone tell them what to do,or how to act? Since when is some sort of stucture for children bad?

  • nother

    That was a very powerful post katemcshane and I appreciate it. It’s weird but for the first time it just hit me that this really is a blog that happens to have a radio show. That has been the mission statement since the inception of ROS, but I feel that we are now finally getting to that point. Your post hit it home for me because it had me thinking in directions I hadn’t thought possible when the show aired. Your writings about the conditioning of children was cutting.

    The pitfalls of obedience – of course, how did no one mention that? I’d like to riff off your ideas a little. I believe that the focus on obedience in a consumerist society that you mention, is a direct result of us all being overextended financially. Most of us are in debt in America and as a consequence we are very fearful of losing our job. The fear of losing our job is so powerful that we compromise our dignity.

    Personally I have succumbed to this more than once in my life. First it was when I was in the Navy. No matter how oppressive your boss is when you are in the military, you are beholden to that person, because they literally control your life. ONE bad review and your career can be compromised. In the military if you have a bad boss you can’t just say screw this I’m out of here – you’ll be in the brig. What would be the consequence of reacting to a bad boss if we had this compulsory service that’s been proposed?

    After the Navy I went to grad school and in the process accumulated thousands in credit card debt. I decided to spend the last few months bartending to escape from that debt, and I just recently went into the black. I relay this story because I also just recently became braver when dealing with a rude bar manager. Let me be clear, I never kissed his butt – but I guess you could say that I appeased him a little too much. Now that I’m debt free – I’m free, but in many ways I feel just a little dirty because of my earlier compromises – no matter how small.

    Katemcshane you write, “we might be able to think about national programs to allow people the opportunities to help other people with compassion, programs that would be run collaboratively, where everyone involved would learn from everyone else.”

    Can you elaborate on this? It doesn’t have to be concrete, just some potential example. I’d also like to know an example of the Eastern readings you’ve been reading. It would also be great if you could jump over the Groundhog Day thread and respond to Jim Leff’s great Buddhist blog – that is of course if you’ve seen the movie.

  • plnelson

    “I do not believe in obedience to authority. There are people whose direction I am willing to follow in certain situations where it is clear to me that they have knowledge or expertise that I do not have.

    . . .

    I believe that people are largely alienated from themselves in a capitalistic economy, a consumerist society.”

    These two statements are contradictory. Capitalism and consumerism are NOT based on obedience to authority. To the contrary, they are based on free, individual choice. ALL the other major economic systems are/were authority-based: socialism, communism, mercantilism, etc. In all of them there is some authority that decides what will be made or sold, what you can buy, what business or profession you can be in, who has trading or logging rights in a particular colony, etc.

    As a hyper-individualist you should be thrilled to live in these times where you have so much personal choice. Is there any time in recordedhistory when you feel someone like you could exercise their anti-authoritarian instincts BETTER than in 2007?

  • jazzman

    katemcshane says: I do not believe in obedience to authority. There are people whose direction I am willing to follow in certain situations where it is clear to me that they have knowledge or expertise that I do not have… It seems to me that if we could teach children about bringing their souls into balance, we might be able to think about national programs to allow people the opportunities to help other people with compassion, programs that would be run collaboratively, where everyone involved would learn from everyone else. This is where our strength would come from.

    I agree with your position 100%. I break no authoritarian proscriptions or laws with which I agree and I obey no authoritarian dicta with which I do not agree, save the exception of the instances in which the metaphorical gun is pointed at my head and then I comply till the threat has passed.

    I agree that having one’s soul/psyche in balance is essential to successful interpersonal transaction and why I have taught my children (and now my grandchild(ren)) the philosophy of Absolute Morality, the reality of primary and secondary information and to recognize exploitation by FEAR and to resist such psychological manipulation. When people operate without fear of each other and themselves, the cooperation and empathy that is truly the nature of all consciousness rather than the Darwinian tooth & claw competitive struggle that is the current paradigm, holds sway.

    rc21 Children indeed need structure (a safe, loving structure) in which to develop their potential to be their best selves. This may be accomplished by patience and explanation of what is expected within their ability to process the information.

    Unfortunately it is often the case that they are inculcated by misguided parents, authorities (religious, academics, other adults etc.) before they possess the capacity to discriminate among these authoritative stimuli (large adults, and their power of certainty that they possess the “truth” are extremely influential and difficult to resist.)

    In matters regarding questions of physical protection, authority relies on obedience and sometimes force to ensure the child’s best interest in their judgment; the problem is most do not consider the ramifications on one’s psyche of shoddy mental protection or even recognize it due to their own beliefs and prejudices.

  • jazzman

    plnelson says: Capitalism and consumerism are NOT based on obedience to authority. To the contrary, they are based on free, individual choice… Is there any time in recorded history when you feel someone like you could exercise their anti-authoritarian instincts BETTER than in 2007?

    Wordsworth notes:

    The world is too much with us; late and soon,

    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

    Little we see in Nature that is ours;

    Capitalism free of cumbrances to achieve its ultimate conclusion would result in a single entity (oligarch) owning (i.e. controlling) all commodities and therefore the de facto authority on what will be produced and what choices are available at the pleasure of those in power.

    Consumerism theoretically may be based in free choice out of the available (controlled/limited) choices and is dependent on the means to acquire the desired consumables.

    As to the time in recorded history AFAIC the 1990’s was far more conducive to exercise one’s anti-authoritarian bent, far more than post 2001 hysteria and GWB’s usurping of civil rights in the name of safety and patriotism via Homeland Security and the Patriot Act.

  • katemcshane

    nother — Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it very much. With regard to what you described about money and employment, certainly fear over money and whether we can support ourselves contributes to our allowing bosses to disrespect, even abuse us. Most people are overextended financially because they are not being fairly paid for their work. After the civil rights movement (and all other movements for equality), all the money that had gone into white supremacy and more was put into a backlash. Families used to be able to live (not well but adequately) on one salary, but now even two and three salaries are not sufficient, if you have children. I don’t know how anyone does raises children these days. I don’t even understand how anyone can afford a car.

    I’m glad you are braver now that you’re free of debt (which is a wonderful accomplishment). When you say that you feel “just a little dirty” because of what you had to do in order to work with this person, I feel sympathetic, but it speaks for what a decent human being you are. The goal of my adult life has been to be able to hold my own, no matter what, to be true to myself no matter what, to stand up for what is right, no matter what. I am falling short all the time, because I have a lot of fear.

    A long time ago, I read a book entitled THE BONDS OF LOVE by Jessica Benjamin. She said that Hegel maintained that in all interactions, one person is dominating another and it will always be that way. I don’t remember whether it was Benjamin or Hegel who said that after all revolutions, the first thing people do is establish a hierarchy. Benjamin, though, was writing about something called intersubjectivity, where each person in an interaction is working to maintain equality. No one is in authority. At the time, I also read a definition of trauma that involved violating someone’s integrity. I had to look up the definition of integrity, and that was how I learned that I was being traumatized on my job by my boss. It was the first time in my life that I understood the meaning of the word “integrity.” I was 48 years old.

    I’ve noticed that when you have a position of authority but you try to work collaboratively with people, often they think you’re shirking your responsibilities, perhaps become angry that you’re not telling them what to do, even push for you to infantilize them. You asked for an example of work we could do collaboratively with people in a society where people learned to bring their souls into balance. EVERYTHING. Whatever was needed by the people, whatever people most wanted to share. People you’re teaching or working with might be a lot better than you are at a certain task, or someone in a group you’re assigned to supervise might have better ideas for a certain job or much more talent. Those kinds of things are threatening in hierarchical settings. If you’re the supervisor or teacher and you’re not the best, you might be seen as incompetent. If you’re in a position of authority but you learn from people you supervise, someone may accuse you of being unprofessional. Etc.

    My interest in Eastern philosophies (and for me, it IS about philosophy, not religion) comes largely from experiences I have had while meditating. Amazing experiences that are better than anything I’ve ever felt. I just have my eyes open for whatever will explain these things or answer questions I have about life. I read bits and pieces. I also read the Tarot, not in the fortune telling sense but in a very spiritual sense. I just saw the film, TRAVELLERS AND MAGICIANS by K. Norbu, the Tibetan Buddhist monk, and I also loved his first film, THE CUP (PHORPA), about Tibetan monks. But I will probably never become Buddhist. Recently I have begun to listen to lectures given by J. Krishnamurti in the 1970’s. I just looked up “Krishnamurti+audio” in google and got a site that has audio archives. They’re very interesting. He discusses authority, how you, yourself, are the only authority that matters. I hope I’ve answered some of your questions.

    Jazzman: I want to thank you for what you wrote. I always enjoy your comments and I was so surprised and delighted when I saw that you had written something to me. I’m grateful. Also, congratulations on your new granddaughter. She’s lucky to have been born into your family.

  • nother

    Thank you very much Kate for taking the time to answer my post. I’m interested in learning more about Eastern philosophies so I appreciate your references. More generally, I appreciate that you are part of the ROS community and I hope you will stick around. If we can attract a few more rich souls like yours, we are going to have one kick ass group!

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