How should the next President let everyone do a little public service?
Photo credit: Ralf Weiser
I might be taking an unpopular stance at this, but I think we all should be doing a little public service. Biggest influence leading to this opinion has been almost a year and a half German army service that I had been drafted into during the late eighties. During the first three months of training and boot camp it became painfully obvious that I would never fit in (I could and would not leave my brain at the gate), but I have to admit a few things I encountered stayed with me for a lifetime.
First and foremost, serving others while doing public service is humbling. Not only do you provide a useful service for others to enjoy, you also get a great feeling of having made a difference. Sometimes the difference may be small, but it is there anyway.
On the feeling good side is also a sense of appreciation for what others do for us. Why not help do something ourselves? You also get to appreciate what you have – public service is usually not revolving around big budgets.
Doing something different and new, if it is different from what you normally do, means learning new skills. What a great way to acquire a few new skill sets. They typically come in handy in career and social life.
New environments mean that you get to know a lot of new people. This also leads to new friendships. We can never have enough friendships. Who knows? Perhaps you get to know your new best friend forever here?
Especially when you do service in the armed forces you will get to enjoy something that very few other places will be able to provide you with. Camaraderie. When you are a unit in the truest meaning of the word, then you will need to rely on each other. Your life and safety may be at stake. Enduring good and bad times in such units changes your life forever.
Public service teaches you how to make do with less. Though some communities may have it better than others, the low bid environment that (unfortunately) has besieged our local governments makes almost certain that you will not be able to get the things that you would get in the “normal” business environment.
Discipline is another thing that you will pick up when you need to do things by the book. Serving in public service usually means that there are certain standards and standard ways of doing things. That means you had better conform – or get out. Discipline is all but automatically the result of staying.
Finally there is sacrifice. When you can no longer go and do things as you please you sacrifice a piece of you. This is when you truly serve others.
Do not get me wrong, I am not proposing that we get the draft back. Serving in the German army was not my cup of tea, but it taught me the above lessons. I do not ever want to miss them. Would the world not be a better place, if we had everyone go through a little public service?