Living in America: Balancing The Rights and Duties of Citizenship
Most Friday evenings I make sure I watch Shields and Brooks on the PBS News Hour.
I know, my life is pathetic.
I love these two guys–A Democrat and a Republican discussing the issues of the day in a respectful, intelligent fashion! Say it isn’t so.
Even when they disagree, it’s done with the utmost regard for the other person and their perspective.
I don’t remember everything that they discuss every time, but I always come away with something valuable to turn over in my mind.
A few weeks ago, Mark Shields commented on how the Democratic party did a good job of representing our rights as Americans, but failed to balance that position by representing equally our responsibilities to our country. He quoted the famous words spoken by JFK: …ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
Shields continued by saying that he supported the idea of some kind of national service program for all citizens. Basically a requirement of our young people that says you need to spend some time in service to your country when you reach a certain age. Serving others–what a concept. I’ve heard support for this idea from both progressives and conservatives and I am intrigued by it.
There are myriad civil society service corps that could use the help. Peace Corps, Job Corps, Americorps, and military organizations are just a scant few. The possibilities for development of new programs to address our societies needs are endless–conservation, senior care, child care and education, literacy, parks and recreation, etc. etc.
Every community in this country has needs. Participants could hook up with local schools, churches, libraries, arts organizations, social services, first responders, law enforcement, museums, manufacturing facilities, state and local parks and municipalities, etc., to serve, and in return gain valuable experience and training in specific skills and environments.
And there could be travelling corps to address labor needs for infrastructure in our national parks and monuments and urban areas across the country. Think of the accomplishments of FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps–over three billion trees planted as well as the construction of road and trail systems, dam and erosion control projects and the building of park structures that are still in use today in our National and State Parks systems.
Think of the opportunities for personal growth and the broader perspective this could provide to young people who are increasingly isolated from social interaction outside their own carefully curated cliques.
I agree with Mark Shields. We need to balance our rights as citizens of a civil society with our responsibilities to that society in order to truly thrive. This is one way to approach that model with boots on the ground and give it legs.
Maybe next week, when I am not exhausted and heart sick from another gun massacre of innocents, we can discuss the same concept in regards to gun ownership rights vs. responsibilities. I’ve spent the last four days dealing with raw emotions and trying to wrap my head around the realty that is the new norm in my country, without much success.
Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think.
©2018 by Ilona Elliott