A Call To Service

“I think after 9/11 I think instead of telling Americans to take a trip or go shopping, I think we had an opportunity to ask Americans to go serve.” ~McCain

“Loving your country shouldn’t just mean watching fireworks on the 4th of July.  Loving your country must mean accepting your responsibility to do your part to change it.” ~Obama

A story on NPR today looked at the presidential candidates views on public service–the ways in which they agree and the differences in their thinking.  And that got me to thinking about public service, what it means and what it can do.

Both candidates spoke of the power of public service.  McCain stated that the goal of his presidency would be to inspire Americans to serve a cause greater than their own self-interest, while Obama sees public service as a way to reconnect the American people in order to help us stop focusing on the divisions among us and to start realizing we’re all in this together. He wants to reengage Americans in the process of government, to make politics relevant again. 

It’s nice to actually agree with both men on this particular topic.  McCain certainly has a valid point about our response to 9/11, wrong in so many ways, and I love his idea of working toward a greater cause than our own self-interest.

Ironically, I believe my vote for Obama reflects just such a commitment.  At a surface glance, my own personal financial situation would likely be better under a McCain presidency.  The specter of higher taxes has a number of my friends and acquaintances firmly behind McCain.  But when I take a look at the state of health care, the vast underfunding of our urban school systems, and the poverty that exists in many rural areas, I’m willing to pay a bit more so that we can make progress toward solving those problems. 

Another thing I’m willing to do is volunteer my time to make some of those things happen.  Whether that’s taking donations to the children’s shelter, serving a meal at the homeless center, or working with the Junior League on the many community projects and the fundraisers that support them, it’s worth my time to make my city a better place to live for everyone. And it’s worth my showing my kids that there’s real value in giving of oneself.

So it’s nice to hear that both presidential candidates also see the value of those contributions.  And I’m looking forward to seeing the results of their efforts. How will you answer the call to service?

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