March 29, 2021

I think there should be a government-backed program of 1-2 years of community service for every high school graduate.

The military is an option; other service roles could include student teaching, community patrol, national parks, legal aid, health clinics, shelters, food banks, and more. The only stipulation is that each 18-year old must be immersed in a community different from the one in which they were raised. Those who grew up on farms could serve in a metropolitan area and vice versa. Someone could serve in a community where they are an ethnic minority. Those rooted in neighborhoods of wealth could live in a community below the poverty level. The possibilities are endless.

I believe this would reframe our entire adult view of ourselves and of others. And this would imbue an understanding of service for everyone. It may lead to more thoughtful subsequent choices of schooling and careers, and encourage those who start college or trade training to finish.

Recently I heard Just Mercy author and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson use the term “proximate”. He said when we get proximate with people who have an experience different from our own, everything can change.

Yes, what he said.

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