Monday, May 30, 2005

The Patriotic Challenge

The Moose salutes our brave heroes.

On this Memorial Day, our thoughts turn to the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for our freedom. As the Moose has commented previously, we are engaged in an odd war where the only significant sacrifice comes from our brave soldiers and their families. Our leadership has only requested that the rest of us shop and has lavished billions of dollars in tax cuts to those who have the most.

The recruitment problems that plague our military may force our country to confront the necessity of compulsory universal service. That would not necessarily be a bad thing if it was extended to both civilian and military service. Of course, it would require a change in our culture. Universal service is certainly not imminent - but a debate about it should be.

Mark Shields offers an eloquent perspective on sacrifice during wartime,

"What has emerged, if we are candid, is an American society and culture where individual autonomy and self-expression are revered, where the individual's pre-eminent obligation is to himself and where the uninterrupted, private pursuit of wealth qualifies as a contribution to the common good. There is little room in this equation for sacrifice.

"No longer, as we have learned from recent national campaigns, is the patriot one who selflessly puts the common good before personal safety or one who voluntarily sacrifices self for the safety and well-being of the country. That is archaic, outdated. Patriotism no longer has to do with one's personal courage or even conduct.

"By today's standards, it is quite easy to become a patriot. It involves no personal risk or sacrifice. All you have to do is to give enthusiastic, uncritical backing to the unilateral invasion and occupation of an agreed-upon unfriendly nation."
-- Posted at 7:30 AM | Link to this post | Email this post