Retired general Stanley McChrystal (former commander in Afghanistan) has an essay in Newsweek. He says the definition of service to our country has narrowed to mean only military service. Our responsibilities as citizens has narrowed to mean only paying taxes, voting, and obeying laws. But we also have a responsibility to build community. Yes! I'm thinking, this is someone who gets it.
Alas, he then loses me. To McChrystal, service is done by the young as part of a designated program, such as Teach for America, Americorps, and City Year. Once service is complete, the youth is done except for the bragging.
Sorry, general, I admire your goal, but think your solution is too narrow. Everyone should be involved in the work of building community. Even those with a career well established need to spend time getting their hands dirty in the work of improving life for all. I do it by washing dishes at a gay teen center.
Speaking of my volunteer work, I got a call from an office volunteer at the Ruth Ellis Center. She is organizing the database of potential and current volunteers. She had record of my interest to serve and called to help me get started. She was a bit surprised to learn I had already been serving there for 2 1/2 years.