I've been thinking about lifelong dreams and how to achieve them. Some of them, you can keep quietly to yourself, and through your own hard work, see come to fruition. Others, need the power of the whole cosmos to make it happen. Draft for Peace. I feel like this is one of them.
Why is it, that the only opportunity has to serve one's country, get trained, fed, clothed, and paid for it is through the military. There programs and organizations like The Peace Corps, AmeriCorps/CityYear, and TeachForAmerica. But neither individually nor combined do these programs have the span, the reach, nor the spending of the U.S. Military.
To think that when men and women were drafted for WWI and WWII, it wasn't just to serve as soldiers. Farmers were drafted to grow crops. Workers were drafted to build ships, vehicles, armaments, and other wartime supplies. So that the draft was not defined solely to place men in the battlefield.
I got to thinking. Why can't there be a similar selective service, draft, and for that matter full-fledged service corps to serve our society's needs and obligations (to democracy, social justice, and liberty) domestically and globally during peacetime? Is it only when our government fails - vis a vis failed foreign policy that creates the necessity for war - that we can find the funds, resources, and wherewithal to mobilize people to action?
Why is it that there should be any shortage of manpower to renovate schools, to update public utilities like bridges or sewer systems, to maintain a park, or sweep up a sidewalk? Why should non-profit public service organizations struggle to find willing capable individuals to help with projects or even operations?
I bet if you asked a young person if they would like to get paid to learn logistics and communications and give them the choice between implementing for civilian support (disaster and recovery, public events, recreational safety) versus battlefield support, the majority would choose civilian support.
The demand I'm certain is there. Where are the opportunities? Where is the communication and coordination that internet connectivity has enabled? I'm not the first person to have thought of this. The existence of the Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders, and CityYear speak to the need for such citizen service. However, the recruiting, development, and maintenance of a standing citizen service corps is until now and for the foreseeable future no match to that of the military's.
Yet when we talk of defending Democracy, we immediately think war, guns, tanks, fighter jets, battleships, bombs, and waves upon waves of young soldiers. Yet the defense of Democracy takes place every day in civilian citizen actions, that far outnumber and outstrip any actions taken in aggression. This is what separates Democracies from Military Juntas and Dictatorships, yet to look at the investment our government and our economy makes in military aggression you would think that we as a nation defending a junta or oligarchy instead of a democracy.
Why do we fight? When there is so much work to be done? Soldiers do what they can, and in the desperate situations we place them in, they do what they must. But hammers are near useless with a phillips head screw. And it's plain to me that we are desperately short on phillips head screw drivers. And if that's the case, what really is there left for a tank or a gun to save?