It takes me 3 minutes to get to work, which as it turns out, is basically my attention span anyway. As I drove to work yesterday I was listening to NPR discussing the state of the Iraqi government. So I’m hearing Iraqi’s talk about what’s actually happening in their country, about the state of “benchmarks” for the government, and basically how potentially the fate of the Iraqi people lie with their gov’t. Spoiler: not in good shape. So I’m listening to that, and I had an urge to see what else was on.

Four of my other presets had commercials on, but then I find…U2. I’m not even a huge U2 fan, but I kept the radio there. It was like 20 seconds before the guilt crept in. What a cop-out! I wanted to listen to some music when there was such a weighty matter on the other station. Just 1 inch from preset 4, over on preset 5 was NPR. Then it dawned on me that this might be a metaphor for all of us and the news. We’re all so sick of being depressed by the news (Especially news about Iraq.) It’s expensive. It’s deadly. The virtues of the war are debatable. Instead of NPR, we would all collectively rather listen to U2. It’s so easy to ignore the sorry state of affairs when U2 is 1 inch away. We have more choice than ever today in almost everything. Clothes, books, media, food…basically, you name it. But has that choice narrowed our perspective? It allows us to choose what we like and what we want to be exposed to and to tune out what we don’t.

I’ll leave you with something else I’ve been thinking about for a while: Would people be more involved in foreign policy if there was a draft? Too many of us don’t think that what goes on overseas (or even at home) applies to them because it doesn’t change our tomorrow or next week. If there was the prospect of a draft, where you, I, our cousin, son, whoever, could get drafted– all of a sudden we’d care a whole lot more about foreign policy, right? About what was happening in Iraq…what was working, what wasn’t working. What’s best for American in this “new world.” We’d all care a lot more, I think. What do you think?

4/30/13 – I guess the roots of “Who Cares” goes deeper than I thought…

6 Responses

  1. Well, there was a draft when the Vietnam war started, so I'm not sure a draft solves our "caring." But what it would do is teach people that there is more to life than themselves and their needs and their wants; that sometimes there is a greater good in serving your country and the needs of the many vs. the needs of the individual. Surya, I'm a Proctoid and a veteran, and I don't want a draft. It would likely reduce the quality of recruits. Having said that, I WOULD like to see more people care about their country and show some sacrifice and commitment to the greater good. I just don't have a solution for that in this day of instant gratification where it's all about "me."

  2. Hey Jeff,

    Great comment– thanks! My point around the draft is that in the era of "it's all about me," with the prospect of a draft– it forces people to take a deeper interest in what's going on since it would potentially be "about them."

    I'm still undecided on a draft. I've heard frequently that it would reduce the quality of the recruits. But I really question this. I've read a lot about the armed forces recent troubles in recruiting, and having to lower standards. And just from a personal observation POV, I'd say that a lot of our brave soldiers are young men and women who join to save money for school, or something else. I'm unsure how ensuring you have a wider sample of the general population would reduce the "quality." I certainly think it would make a lot of middle and upper-class parents very nervous– but isn't serving the greater good a responsibility that should be shared across the country's populace?

    This is a great dialogue and a topic that I find very interesting. I look forward to hearing more from you on this topic given your experience in the area. Thanks again for the comment, Jeff!


  3. Okay…then I'll throw another comment at you. The services have struggled somewhat recently, but then ever since we went to the All Volunteer Force (AVF) in 1973 we've always had to pay bonuses and college fund money to get enlisted recruits. All of these individuals take an aptitude test to join. Usually, you only take recruits in the top 2 (of 5) tiers, but the last few years we've dipped into tier 3 and maybe 4. With a draft, you really can't discriminate on aptitude…can you? There are other areas as well – physical fitness. With a draft, can you still discriminate and say, we are only drafting people who are in physically good shape? So don't think of the quality as one-dimensional. It's the complete package.

    As to the "rich families" getting nervous…well…I think many Americans who haven't served would be surprised how diverse our force is. My last assignment we had a kid who graduated from Princeton, for example. However, statistics show that many well-to-do families do fail to serve. But…what if we did this: let's make mandatory national service the norm for 2 years – you get drafted, but you may elect to serve in the armed forces, peace corps, red cross, or something else that benefits the greater good. International travel to some impoverished lands should be a requirement to a) help out and b) educate our citizens so that they appreciate their lifestyle all the more and are, in the future, perhaps more willing to focus on the benefit of the many rather than the individual. That's my thought… Good discussion.

  4. Donald trump just quit NBC! Because I find that amusing, I commented about it in my LiveJournal. No link, just an excerpt:


    Title: NBC: "Trump, we might fire you." Trump: "Bah!! I only fire, not be fired!! I quit!!!"

    Lmfao. At risk of being fired by NBC for low Apprentice ratings, Donald Trump has quit.

    It is somewhat sad that the Apprentice will be no more, but I still find Trump's course of action to be amusing. Why? Because on the 3rd week of the show this past season, he lashed out at one of the candidates (Michelle) for… yep you guessed it, quitting. "You can never succeed if you quit", "I hate [the concept of quitting]", etc.

    I agree with Trump that quitting is generally a weak-ass thing to do, at least when you quit too easily. But I do believe that in many cases, when something you're doing isn't working and it will not work and it's making no sense, then to keep doing it would be silly and unwise. Call it quitting or whatever you like, but even the most successful people have to give up on something from time to time.

    I'm not so sure Michelle's decision was the best for her. But what I find so funny about The Donald quitting, is this:

    Just like him, Michelle looked very likely to be fired when she quit. Here were Trump's words on that: "If I were you, I would want to be fired [rather than quit]."

    Well, yesterday he just proved he would rather quit! Nice one, Trump.


    Note: OK, so maybe I'm being a little bit unfair to Trump. Granted I did say you can quit when it makes sense to do so… and for Trump, I think it made sense. Furthermore, when he said "If I were you, I would want to be fired", the key phrase was "If I were you." His situation was different from Michelle's and more likely warranted a quitting. Maybe his new TV venture will be more profitable for him.

    I wasn't 100% serious in my LiveJournal, I was just having fun.

  5. Oops! Please excuse my (basically harmless) use of the a-word. I'm not really worried about it, but if you the mods really wish to do so, you may delete it leaving the word "weak" by itself.

  6. Isn't politics motivated by self-interest when it comes right down to it. I mean sure there are some issues like abortion or illegal immigration which in reality don't affect most people's lives , but the majority of the stuff seems like self-interest. People who are idealistic left-wingers often end up being republicans later when they are in a high tax bracket.

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