Can You Serve Your Country Without Actual Service?
August 9, 2011 Leave a comment
You most certainly can. I saw it quite often in Civil Air Patrol, in ROTC, and I see it in Congress today.
These types “serve” for the sole reason of getting something out of it. It may be a resume builder. It may be a job. It may simply be “cred” so that you may shut down conversation or debate by throwing down the “I serve my country” card. But it is not selfless service. One’s motivations always manifests itself in performance.
I saw it in my peers: they would show up for what was required. They took their exams to get promoted. And they left. They’d complain at physical training in the mornings–do the absolute minimum, resulting in cadre and staff pushing us harder, making us do more. Then they’d leave.
You never did get to know them very well–their demeanor made it quite clear they had no interest in getting to know their comrades. You’d never see them hang around after meetings or classes, chatting or engaging the instructor in further discussion. You’d never see them camped in the tent next to you on training exercises. But you can be sure, on awards night, at the dining-in, you can be sure they’d show up, glitzed-up date in tow, showing their awed table-full of guests around with their chests puffed up.
When you advanced enough to where it was time to give back, to teach the new ones, to put to use the skills you had been taught, they were nowhere to be seen. They never responded to e-mails calling for someone to teach a class next week, or fill a position at encampment or FTX. In person, they’d find a way to inch away and disappear until someone else volunteered.
Between teaching the new cadet basic drill moves, the radio communications class, and organizing a bi-weekly PT sessions, you wonder just why the hell they’re there in the first place. They’re just standing there, somewhat awkwardly, gazing into space in between checking the time.
You see them around campus, or around town, in uniform, cheekily accepting all the thank-yous from passerby.
You can’t help but to seethe. That’s not what the uniform is for.
That is not what service is for.
You’re there to serve.
Not to be seen serving.
It’s okay to call these types out–because they’re not serving. They’re self-serving. And by doing, they’re bringing down the quality of service, as well as the quantity of service that the organization is able to provide.
“But at least they’re doing it. That’s more than a lot of people do.”
Throw that excuse right out the window. Demand service from your volunteers–our volunteers, from Congress all the way down to the useless bodies filling the local CAP squadron.
Because you actually have to do something to serve your country.