According to McChrystal, national service will serve as the big idea that will save America. He states that the young generation should be given an opportunity to be responsible in their country. Stanley calls for the young generation to specifically serve for a year and receive a modest stipend. McChrystal suggests that the young individuals who are between the ages of 18 to 28 years will be incorporated to the existing programs such as AmeriCorps or other institutions where they can complete the service (McChrystal, 1). The services included are such as helping the elderly, building homes among others. McChrystal suggests that public-private partnerships would fund the service years and a technological platform will enable connect individuals who want to serve and organizations that can host them will also be in association. Serving would be a way to solve social problems. Through this idea, a culture of service can be developed where every young individual will have a sense of obligation towards the providing meaningful service to the nation. The service objectives would include solving complex dynamic issues and instilling value such as persistence and grit to the individual. As such, the individuals will eventually be successful in their future endeavors as they would have the valuable qualities that employers seek.
McChrystal asserts that unlike in the past where similar ideas had been proposed but were not achievable, this idea would work as currently, any young people have the drive to serve. He sites from a survey conducted in the year 2010 by Pew survey, where 57% of young individuals reported a willingness to serve having volunteered in the preceding months (McChrystal, 2). From the survey, the demand to serve exceeded the supply of the available service opportunities (McChrystal, 2). This showed the enthusiasm of the young generation to serve and help grow the nation. Also, the national service would be something the young individuals are interested in as earlier efforts of conscription have failed due to lack of interest. McChrystal cites various benefits associated with service such as binding the young people together, molding better citizens and transforming the nation.
It is becoming evident that the military alone is well not suited to address some tasks required by the struggle against extremism. America faces challenges that are more diffuse such as danger posed by militaristic nations that have more territorial designs and risk catching America unawares (Grigsby, 116). The federal government of America should, therefore, consider creating a national service program as suggested by McChrystal. By participating in national service, the young generations afford America the opportunity to recapture the essence of being truly American and guarantees that the generations in future have a solid understanding of challenges that may lay ahead. For this, a push towards national service is appropriate and essential. This will enable forge a sense of national community, rebuild connections between individual's responsibility and rights as well as regenerate a sound civil-military association.
The call to service is best answered by the citizens themselves in volunteering in their local communities and among private organizations. Developing a national service system as suggested by McChrystal creates in the citizens, a commitment towards their country while instilling within them a sense of responsibility towards others. By instituting such a system, a shared civic experience is developed wherein performing the nation's duties each citizen contributes. This makes sure that every citizen receives the benefits associated with a free society having sacrificed their time and effort into it. With this creates a sense of community and personal responsibility that allows the nation to flourish as well as reinvigorate. America needs to set a culture of service. I agree that a year of service can instill a cultural responsibility among the younger generation. This will set a realistic pathway and automatic mechanism that will see more Americans being able to serve.
Involvement of American youth in the national service could serve to bridge the existing gap between the military and the general society. This gap is created when there is a wide disconnect existing between the military and civilians including those who hold offices. The citizens tend to be uninvolved about military work causing the gap to widen. When this happens, the military is able to conduct itself in a manner that receives no checks from the citizens or Congress. Unchecked military adventurism can result in the military attacking or imperialize foreign countries without control. A relationship can be forged to portray a greater understanding for individuals serving in the military and civilians. Military individuals, just like the national service participants are recognized for their fulfillment of responsibilities as citizens. This understanding could engender willingness for more participation and willingness to volunteer. By civilians serving the community, their engagement would also continue even beyond the program structure (Grigsby, 117). The experience in the national service would afford the young generation individuals a greater understanding of the systems discipline, purpose as well as loyalty. Therefore conscription would serve to connect the citizens and military in some way.
National service model as suggested by McChrystal can serve as a pathway to an increased sense of personal effectiveness and civic responsibility. Currently, in modern America, civic participation has atrophied. The only connection that the country has with the citizens is through voting or paying taxes. These, however, cannot serve to bind the various communities together. Various benefits can be accrued by spurring the young generations to be more involved in their communities and social problems. Service instills in the individual's problem-solving skills, enables them to create an invaluable network through the broad range of individuals they interact with and also affords them leadership skills as in support of McChrystal idea. According to civic republicanism, individuals acquire freedom by being actively engaged in their own government. Through this, it can be argued that not only does national service encourage civic involvement but also mandates the people to be part of their own government through military involvement, community policing among other forms of service work. Service confers a measure of patience, sacrifice, and empathy for the individuals who are less fortunate while also it can serve to empower the less fortunate. When tied to a common endeavor not only does it unite people but also instills pride in the nation.
Service can serve to create a sense of lifetime membership. By incorporating various individuals from diverse backgrounds to serve a common purpose creates lasting relationships. This degree of commonality by serving creates loyalty and unites more Americans from different backgrounds. Americans tend to be isolated ethnically, religiously, geographically, economically as well as culturally. By sharing common experiences in service, an intensity in the association is developed which creates strong and enduring relationships. Therefore by bringing together the young generation from diverse backgrounds together forges an improved sense of American identity as well as social harmony.
McChrystals idea is also very achievable as in modern America, the young generation is very eager to serve, technology is more advanced and can connect various people from diverse backgrounds and institutions are massive that can assist and host the young individuals in their service programs. Various national priorities exist that might benefit from the ideas and enthusiasm of the younger generation of Americans. Objectives addressed by AmeriCorps such as reduction of urban poverty, disaster preparedness, environmental remediation, basic infrastructure maintenance among others are some of the issues that the younger generation would be suitable for addressing. By serving in such, the system reconnects the individuals to the concept of rights and responsibilities. Through service, the young Americans experience a brief period in which they perform tasks associated with increasing value towards the nation (Pauwels, 2610). This system will, therefore, play a crucial role in acquainting the future generations with their obligations as American citizens.
Setting a national service program is a potential idea that could solve most of the social problems while it offers various benefits for the younger participating generations. McChrystal is right to suggest the idea with solid ground such as the enthusiasm reported among the younger generation in their effort to serve. The United States federal government should take advantage of such and generate a culture of service that will beneficial to the nation in general. The service will work to secure the American character as McChrystal describes.
Grigsby, Carol Armistead. "Binding the nation: National service in America." Parameters 38.4 (2008): 109.
McChrystal, Stanley. "Securing the American character." Democracy 33 (2014): 10.
Pauwels, Andrew M. "Mandatory National Service: Creating Generations of Civic Minded Citizens." Notre Dame L. Rev. 88 (2012): 2597.
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