Michael Gerson: National service program would help develop better citizens

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  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    June 26, 2013 10:18 p.m.

    25% of young people are unemployed. So this is the solution? We can't seem to work things out so you can get a job. So why don't we force you to work for free.
    mandatory service would never work, those who need it the most "rich kids" would find a way out of it.

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    June 26, 2013 3:53 p.m.

    one old man: take up your complaint with the dictionary, not me.

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    June 26, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    SCfan: indeed, why WOULD anyone join the military and fight "for the country?" I'm assuming you've never done that yourself. I have. Most people join the military for the benefits. Patriotism may be a motive, but it's down a ways on the priority list. More importantly, soldiers are not fighting for the country. They're fighting for the government, which is a whole other issue. I'm more than willing to fight for my country, but not necessarily for my government.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 26, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    Gildas, please turn your radio off.

    We could also ask: ". . . why would anyone want to make all young men and women subject to the dictation of the Church?"

    Don't get me wrong, I don't oppose missionary callings. They do a lot to prepare young men and women for the future. Might not this idea do similar things for others?

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    June 26, 2013 11:09 a.m.

    So why does anyone want to force ( the article seems to promote individually voluntary but socially coercive compliance ) all the young graduates into a situation where their autonomy is subjected to the control of others ( called "the country" although it inevitably is the ruling bodies of a nation not the nation itself).

    I repeat why would anyone want to make all young men and women subject to the dictation of the State? Even if only for a year any of them could suffer or die for some assigned cause whether or not they understand or support that cause. Would you voluntarily let someone else control you so completely?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 26, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    SEY that seems to be a badly twisted definition.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 26, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    The penchant for conservatives to make straw men monsters out of just about anything these days is exhausting. Don’t you guys ever tire of feeling/expressing only fear and rage?

    And on this issue I just don’t get it - people all across the political divide are promoting community service (mostly today for returning veterans) as a way to feel valued, give back, and strengthen community bonds.

    And this is bad because…?

    Sure, if it’s forced, OK. Or if it by “service” we mean nationalistic indoctrination (e.g., Hitler Youth) then you have a point. Bit who is promoting anything like that… who?
    Please… take a walk… exercise… read a relaxing book… and most of all gain a little perspective.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    June 26, 2013 10:29 a.m.


    I think your view of Patriotism as being bad, is not good for the country either. Why would a person go into the service and fight for the country if they did not have some degree of devotion and loyalty and patriotism? And who is to judge when a person is "too" patriotic? I'm sure many on the left think that the T-Party people were too extreme, but all they did was use the system to create change. The energy to do that whether a group or individule must come from some degree of passion for your country. In other words, I don't necessarily think nationalism is bad, especially when it comes from an exceptional country, like the United States of America, which has done far more good for the world than bad.

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    June 26, 2013 9:04 a.m.

    one old man: nationalism is nothing new. It's been around for centuries and it has always been at odds with the individual. Here's how an online dictionary defines it:

    1. spirit or aspirations common to the whole of a nation.
    2. devotion and loyalty to one's own country; patriotism.
    3. excessive patriotism; chauvinism.
    4. the desire for national advancement or political independence.
    5. the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one's own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.
    See also "chauvinism": exaggerated, passionate, or fanatical devotion to a national community

    When I talk of nationalism, I refer to points 3 and 5, but point 3 most particularly as a chauvinistic phenomenon. Fanatical authoritarians have been at heart nationalists. Think of Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pinochet and a host of others.

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    June 26, 2013 8:54 a.m.

    National service programs won't change the public or the digression to more selfish motives. You can't compel people to serve as it would violate their rights and you can't pay them because the cost would be to great on our government right now. Truthfully the only way for people to change is when they find the motivation within themselves and this usually only happens by people attending church, working in volunteer organizations, or by hitting rock bottom. Necessity creates change and right now young people are finding they don't have the freedom to make that change as our regulations are to strict and legally cumbersome our corporations and government to large and our opportunity to small. Mostly it is just leading us to rebel as we find a government that is oriented to taking our tax dollars and giving it to the old, lazy or to industries with big lobbyists (the farm bill) leaving us with massive unfunded liabilities and debt. They get the cushion we get the rock ledge.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 26, 2013 8:04 a.m.

    SEY - what on earth do you mean by "nationalism?"

    Is this a new conservative boogeyman?

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    June 26, 2013 7:13 a.m.

    Every so often, this monstrous idea of "national service" raises its ugly head. The whole notion of based on the premise that nationalism is a good thing. Worse is the root belief that individualism must give way the greater good of society. William Buckley was right about some things but wrong about more. I read his book about this topic because I admired him at the time. I have come to understand since then that he was an ardent nationalist.

    Nationalism is toxic to any nation, as history has shown time and again. Its most destructive trait is to annihilate the value of the person in favor of a government-selected "higher cause." This is what is behind the false ideals of "exceptionalism" and "national righteousness" that gets nations into spreading their superiority via wars and non-requested interventions.

    This whole national service idea needs to be dismissed along with the military draft as a very bad one.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    June 26, 2013 6:35 a.m.

    Would national service be by force or voluntary? If by force it would not be a good idea.

    Would national service cost money? Car we afford it?