I believe our country needs to adopt some form of national service. This belief is based on several factors. We need to address the growing state of disconnection between members of our society. Since the abolition of compulsive military service, most of our leadership has never been placed in a setting where they had significant personal contact with people who looked, talked, and thought differently from them. Even though I am now a professional, I have found great benefit from the time in my life when I worked as an electrician, construction worker, gardener, ice cream salesman, along with a half dozen other jobs that gave me exposure to a cross section of the people who make up our country. Given the decline of our public schools, too many of our children miss out on the benefits of exposure to others with different backgrounds than their own.
Our society is in need of healing. We have allowed ourselves to become too polarized, and need to reestablish common goals that will benefit us all. Our infrastructure is decaying, and unless we do something about it soon, we stand the risk of genteel decay, looking back on our past glories. We have large parts of our rural heartlands that are medically underserved. We have inner cities we have essentially abandoned, along with those who are forced to live in them. We have great National Parks that are not being maintained, and whose heritage we risk losing for our children.
I envision all citizens, male and female, giving two years of their lives to this service. The service could be in the form of military, public health, rural or urban reconstruction, teaching in underserved areas, etc. The politics and details of it all will require much debate. And yes, the cost of such service will be great. However, the cost of failing to serve will be even greater.