Watching both Senators McCain and Obama discuss national service yesterday demonstrated that there are things that people can agree on that defy party lines. Certainly service that meets needs of those who can't do it all for themselves betters us all. As a community activist, I value what a small group of people can do to educate, raise awareness, and affect public policy. As a volunteer to organizations that provide food to those who are food insecure and shelter to those who wouldn't otherwise have a place to go, I have seen how people who may disagree wildly about the role of government can effectively work together for the greater good.
Service to others taps into the best nature of human kind, not only in times of disaster, but also in the times of political lethargy or where there is ongoing need. The delicate nature of social support systems is tried time and again by shifts in political policies and is only laced together by people seeing there is a problem and working together to fix it. Having public policy and private largess come together is in the best interest of all of us.
I applaud the idea that service is imparted to children and that we use resources to allow our citizens to reach out to others in need both in our country and elsewhere. As Americans, we can be proud of our willingness to be of help and sacrifice.
Having said all this, I support national service that leads to peaceful outcomes. I value the service of those who choose to become soldiers, but I hope that foreign service can lead to better understanding among people and eventually lessen the need for military interventions.