Author Topic: REFLECTIONS ON NATIONAL SERVICE  (Read 1449 times)


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National service looms as one of the most dangerous threats to
the American people in our 200-year history. Previously
advocated only by liberals, national service is now also
embraced by many on the conservative side of the political
spectrum, as evidenced by the recent book, Gratitude, by
America's foremost conservative, William F. Buckley, Jr.

The versions of national service are many and varied. Most of
them are directed to the youth of America. They range from
universal conscription to more "benign" forms of coercion
advocated by Mr. Buckley. But all of them have at their core
one essential principle: that the state, rather than being a
servant of the people, is their master; and as their master,
has the power to force the citizenry, either directly or
indirectly, to serve others.

National service violates every principle of individual
liberty and limited government on which this nation was
founded. As John Locke and Thomas Jefferson emphasized, life,
liberty, property, and conscience are not privileges bestowed
on us by governmental officials; they are natural, God-given
rights with which no public official can legitimately
interfere. We are not brought into the world to serve the
state; the state is brought into existence by the people to
serve us through the protection of our natural, God-given

We should also never forget that the American people of our
time have chosen an economic system which is alien to that
which our American ancestors chose. Although there are those
who honestly believe that the welfare state, planned economy
way of life is simply an evolution of the original principles
on which America was founded, they operate under a severe
delusion. Although there were numerous exceptions (slavery and
tariffs being the most notable), there is no doubt that our
American ancestors clearly and unequivocally rejected the
morality and philosophy of the welfare state, planned economy
way of life.

The advocates of national service, liberals and conservatives
alike, would force Americans to serve a system which our
ancestors knew would be evil, immoral, and tyrannical. The
welfare state, like all other socialist systems, plunders the
wealth and savings of those who have in order to redistribute
the loot, through the political process, to others. It
violates one of the most sacred commandments of our God: Thou
shalt not steal. And the planned economy, through its
thousands of rules and regulations interfering with peaceful
human choices, denigrates one of God's most sacred gifts to
human beings--the great gift of free will.

Recognizing that the ardent wish of the advocates of national
service is to require Americans to join them in the support of
this political evil and immorality, let us examine some of the
opportunities for "service" in our present-day economic
system. Perhaps a youth can "volunteer" his services to the
Internal Revenue Service and thereby help to destroy more
American lives through terror and confiscation. Or perhaps a
better opportunity would be to help run the concentration
centers on the American side of the United States-Mexican
border--where good and honorable people from the Republic of
Mexico are incarcerated for committing the heinous, American
"crime" of trying to sustain and improve their lives through
labor. Or how about simply being an enforcer of minimum-wage
laws, thereby helping to condemn black teenagers in Harlem to
lives of misery and impoverishment. Or perhaps a "volunteer"
can be one of the thousands who are responsible for injecting
the narcotic of welfare into the veins of so many thousands of
our fellow citizens.

One of the standard complaints about our present-day political
system, of course, is that not enough "good" people hold
public office. The suggestion is that if "better" people were
in public office, socialism in America could finally be made
to work well. But lost in all of this is that only a certain
type of person is attracted to participation in a government
which has overwhelming power over the lives and fortunes of
others--the person who has an uncontrollable urge to wield
such power--the person who has yet to learn the final lesson
in the evolution of man: that true power lies not in
controlling the lives of others; true power lies in the
conquest of one's own self.

What about these individuals, then, who have no desire to
govern the lives of others or who have overcome such a desire?
They avoid like the plague any participation in such a
government. Is this a bad thing? On the contrary! When a
government is engaged in evil, immorality, and tyranny, the
only rightful place for the person of conscience is outside of
that government.

But the proponents of national service would require or
"encourage" all Americans, like it or not, to participate in
the evil and immorality of the welfare state, planned economy
way of life.

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of national service is that it
is advocated by many Christians. Christians know that God
loved man so much that He entrusted us with a tremendously
wide ambit of freedom--so much so that we are even able to
deny Him and our neighbor if we so choose. In other words,
while God tells us that the two great commandments are to love
Him and to love our neighbor, never does He force us to comply
with these commandments. He leaves the choices with us but
with the understanding that we must ultimately bear the
consequences of those choices.

But the advocates of national service believe that God made a
mistake when He entrusted man with so much freedom. And so
they wish to correct the "error" by using the coercive power
of Caesar to ensure that man serves his fellow man whether he
wants to or not. They block out of their minds that God
neither needs nor wants this type of "help" and that, in fact,
by interfering with God's peaceful methods--love, charity,
forgiveness, acceptance, the cross--they actually place their
own souls in jeopardy.

Two hundred years ago, our American ancestors instituted the
most unusual political-economic system in the history of man.
With exceptions, government's primary purpose was to protect
the right of each individual to live his life and to dispose
of his wealth as he saw fit. While this strange way of life
guaranteed that people could accumulate unlimited amounts of
wealth, it did not guarantee what people would do with that
wealth. Freedom was more important to these people than the
outcome of freedom. And, ironically, the result was not only
the most prosperous nation in history but also the most
charitable nation in history!

Advocates of national service say that we should be grateful
to our Founding Fathers for establishing a free society. But
they want us to "repay the debt" to these deceased advocates
of liberty by participating in the destruction of the freedom
which they achieved. Apparently, it is not sufficient that my
generation, as well as the next, have been saddled by previous
generations with a very real, financial, political debt that
ultimately must be paid. And apparently, it is not sufficient
that we are currently required to work for the first half of
each year just to maintain the huge, welfare-state bureaucracy
which previous generations foisted on later generations. No,
apparently this is not sufficient. We are told that we must
also deliver now up our children to the state so that they can
prepare for their lives of permanent, partial enslavement
through temporary, total enslavement.

As our Founding Fathers taught us, service to one's country
sometimes entails opposition to one's government. We often
forget that those who signed the Declaration of Independence
were not American citizens. They were as British as any
British citizen today. And they were viewed as unpatriotic by
many of their fellow citizens, even those in the colonies,
because they refused to serve and support their government. In
fact, it has been estimated that one-third of the colonists
sided with their government--the British government--during
the Revolution and that another third stayed neutral during
the conflict.

How many present-day Americans would have signed the
Declaration of Independence? Would you have signed it?
Remember--by signing that document, you would have placed at
risk your life, savings, home, and family. And you would have
been branded a traitor by your own public officials, and by
many of your friends and neighbors, for refusing to support
your government. And if you had lost the struggle, you would
have died a nameless "extremist" rather than as one of the
greatest patriots of all time.

The unhappy truth is that most present-day Americans would not
have served their country by standing against their government
in 1776. Having served the mandatory 12-year sentence in
government-approved schools learning government-approved
doctrine, and having been required to pledge allegiance
thousands upon thousands of times, most Americans today
honestly believe that support of their country is synonymous
with support of their government. And the best proof of this
is their willingness to approve, support, and serve a tax and
regulatory tyranny that makes what King George III was doing
to his citizens look like child's play.

Although ours is a peaceful war of ideas, it is the most
important war ever in the history of man. And no one can avoid
being a part of it. It finds Americans today divided into
three camps: those who wish to expand the welfare state, those
who wish to conserve it, and those who wish to end it. It is
true that those of us who are fighting to end the evil and
immorality are a very small minority who are facing the vast
majority of our fellow citizens who wish either to expand or
conserve it. But we must remain determined and optimistic.
For our American ancestors showed us that minorities who are
in the right can prevail over majorities who are in the wrong.
Time will tell whether those of us who served our nation by
resisting the tyranny of our government will prevail over
those who would have us support the tyranny through national
service and other such schemes.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of
Freedom Foundation, P.O. Box 9752, Denver, CO 80209.

From the April 1991 issue of FREEDOM DAILY,
Copyright (c) 1991, The Future of Freedom Foundation,
PO Box 9752, Denver, Colorado 80209, 303-777-3588.
Permission granted to reprint; please give appropriate credit
and send one copy of reprinted material to the Foundation.