We’re all familiar with the military career and all that comes with that:
- Benefits, pension
- Lifetime guarantee of “3 hots and a cot”
- Health care, VA benefits
- Sense of purpose, camaraderie
- Sense of order, chain of command, discipline
- Potential to gain skills, learn, grow
- Potential to “rise up in the ranks”
- Potential to “see the world”
- Serve your country, make the world better (maybe)
So what if you wanted all the above described features but was not keen on being sent wherever and whenever Uncle Sam wanted. The military is not like ordering from a restaurant menu selecting only those items that appeal to you. What if you did not agree with the mission or understand what was the mission? Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind.
Might joining a revamped and robust Peace Corps with both a foreign and domestic component appeal to you?
What are my motivations behind this proposal?
- On the foreign front….we need to identify those countries that can be salvaged where we can “win their hearts and minds” thereby stabilizing them and preventing an exodus of immigrants. Various Central American countries come to mind along with moderate “hot spots” throughout the rest of the world.
- On the domestic front….we need to identify those distressed areas (be they urban, aging suburban or rural) where an infusion of positivity will turn the tide of despair and inertia.
Who might be a candidate for a Peace Corp type career that was modeled upon a military career? Probably a person who….
- Wants to work productively for the balance of their life without worrying that the job will disappear, medical benefits will lapse, career advancement and learning opportunities will be limited.
- Is not particularly concerned about getting RICH. Having a guarantee of a roof over their head, food in their belly and a doctor to see them when they get sick is more important that the rat race of chasing the evaporating American Dream of the big house surrounded by the picket fence and the mountains of debt. Minimalists and survivalists are encouraged to apply. Materialist’s not so much.
- Has an ability to contribute their talents and advance their skills within the context of a natural curiosity about other cultures, lifestyles and circumstances (be they foreign or domestic).
- Wants to serve their country but not necessarily in a militaristic fashion.
So what might be some of the missions and tasks to be tackled by the domestic Peace Corps?
- An army (had to use that phrase since in keeping with the military analogy) of gardeners. Establish community gardens and backyard gardens (reminiscent of the Victory Gardens of the WW2 era) that would provide health fruits/vegetables, encourage self-sufficiency, environmental friendliness, just to name a few advantages. See my upcoming blog where I elaborate on this notion of a nation wide gardening campaign
- An army of tutors and mentors to get students re-engaged in learning, practical skill training and goal setting. See my upcoming blog where I elaborate on this proposal to revamp our approach to teaching and mentoring so we move toward micro-teaching/mentoring rather than the warehousing of students. Teaching and mentoring slides more into the category of life coaching.
- An army of community mentors working with the criminal justice system supporting the police (not replacing them) providing the extra coaching/mentoring for those whose issues (addictions, anger, depression, etc.) are sucking them into the criminal justice system. This army of counselors/mentors would enable cops to be cops investigating and apprehending truly bad ass violent criminals and thieves. See my upcoming blog for more on this augmenting (not defunding) of police and the criminal justice system.
As for the Foreign version of the Peace Corps…..
- Follow a formula as outlined above concerning the domestic version but adapt it to the needs of the host country.
- Make sure participants are adequately protected. Even though we would not be sending them to the world hottest spots, we do not want to set them up as potential hostages or victims. This is becoming increasingly important as world affairs continues to deteriorate and American’s have an increasingly large target on their backs. In addition to having a guardian presence (subtle military presence nearby just in case), the participants need to be well trained in self-defense and survival skills. I propose extension of this martial arts/weapons training and self-defense training to the domestic participants to be ready to react to increasingly hostile environments fueled by animosity, polarization, bigotry and downright orneriness. I offer this suggestion after 15 years as a mall cop and over 30 years working in distressed neighborhoods. An upcoming blog will elaborate on this notion of creating a more defensive citizenry prepared to counter punch when attacked. To be clear, the spirit of this blog will be vigilance not vigilantism.
Various components of the above described outside-of-the-box proposals are baked into my upcoming novel about an eclectic extended family in a near term dystopian world, so stay tuned for details. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts/reactions and if anybody wants to read some or all of this novel in its draft form and provide feedback, I would be delighted to supply you with as much or as little as you desire.