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Old 2009-01-22, 09:04   Link #1
TinyRedLeaf
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What does public service mean to you?

Extracted from President Barack Obama's inaugural address:
Quote:
...Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.

Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw, so that we might live a better life.

This is the journey we continue today.

...As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honour them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
I recently posted a message in the thread on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to express my deeply held opinion on the value of national service.

In his inaugural address, and many other previous speeches, Mr Obama echoed a similar message: that public service is one of the highest callings, if not the highest, that any individual may undertake.

He may have been speaking to the American people, but I feel that his words apply equally well to people all around the world. So, I wonder, what does public service mean to you, a member of a global community? What does your nation stand for, and does it inspire you to serve? If not, why so?

I am a reservist officer in my country's armed forces, and my brigade commander once said: "Too often, when things go wrong, people often look for someone to blame.

"The first question they should ask instead is: 'Am I at fault?'"

To follow up his admonishment, I'd like to ask, if there are things that are wrong in your country, what are you doing about it? Are you part of the solution, or a stubborn part of the problem instead?
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Old 2009-01-22, 09:12   Link #2
Thingle
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Here, you do at least 3 academic years of "involuntary servitude". You have one year for military training in your final High school year and another 2 in your first two years in college. Fortunately, somebody died exposing the corruption in the system back in 2001, so both became optional with community service as an alternative (like fundraising and teaching kids how to read). All were a waste of time. There are Non-governmental organizations taking care of the situation voluntarily, so why draw manpower from the students?

Unlike my elders, I didn't need to spend every weekend standing under the sun doing formations and marching to ego-tripping NCO's. Good for me.
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Old 2009-01-22, 09:34   Link #3
Liddo-kun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
To follow up his admonishment, I'd like to ask, if there are things that are wrong in your country, what are you doing about it? Are you part of the solution, or a stubborn part of the problem instead?
I'm too busy earning a living to worry about the problems of my country.
Frankly speaking, I'd rather not get involved espescially if the problem is a war.
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Old 2009-01-22, 10:53   Link #4
Shadow Kira01
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
He may have been speaking to the American people, but I feel that his words apply equally well to people all around the world. So, I wonder, what does public service mean to you, a member of a global community? What does your nation stand for, and does it inspire you to serve? If not, why so?
Inspiration? Not really. I just hope that Obama will be able to demonstrate his abilities at resolving both the financial crisis and set some good foreign policies. His inaugural speech was pretty good but it means nothing if it ends there.
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Old 2009-01-22, 17:11   Link #5
Vexx
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Originally Posted by Thingle View Post
Here, you do at least 3 academic years of "involuntary servitude". You have one year for military training in your final High school year and another 2 in your first two years in college. Fortunately, somebody died exposing the corruption in the system back in 2001, so both became optional with community service as an alternative (like fundraising and teaching kids how to read). All were a waste of time. There are Non-governmental organizations taking care of the situation voluntarily, so why draw manpower from the students?

Unlike my elders, I didn't need to spend every weekend standing under the sun doing formations and marching to ego-tripping NCO's. Good for me.
So what do you do for your community or country instead since you're free of national service? Do you work with any of those NGOs? Volunteer in your community?
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Old 2009-01-22, 23:06   Link #6
Thingle
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So what do you do for your community or country instead since you're free of national service? Do you work with any of those NGOs? Volunteer in your community?
Nah, I'm already done with it a couple of years ago. Got "drafted" to community service back in 2005 and 2006.
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Old 2009-01-22, 23:52   Link #7
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I'm too busy earning a living to worry about the problems of my country. Frankly speaking, I'd rather not get involved espescially if the problem is a war.
Which is why I deliberately left "public service" undefined. I asked, "What does public service mean to you?" National (military) service is but one form of such service. Some may choose to serve in government. Others may choose to march for civil rights. Many more, on the other hand, serve their communities in small yet significant ways:

Quote:
...It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
For the moment, let's just say that public service is an act of self-sacrifice for a greater good. It is an act of kindness; an act of generosity; an act of altruism.

It doesn't have to be something big. It doesn't have to take a lot of money or a lot of time. All it takes is compassion, a desire to do something — whatever you can — to make your family, community, county, state, country, and the world, a little better than before.

It also presumes that there is something larger than you that you believe in: a religion, a philosophy, an ideal. Something that you believe is worth fighting, and dying, for. If you don't have one, why not?

My country, to me, stands for meritocracy, racial and religious tolerance, and most importantly, respect for the rule of law. We stand in stark contrast to the mess around us, something that too many of my countrymen take for granted. None of these qualities came to us naturally. It took two generations of hard-headed leadership to steer us to where we are today.

Today, we chafe at the limitations imposed by that leadership. That, to me, is also well and good. It's a healthy sign that some people do care; that some people are dissatisfied with the status quo, and are trying to do something about it. This, then, is also a form of public service.

I, for one, believe in the power of words. A word of hate may turn a friend away forever; a word of kindness may bring him back.

And so, for now, I take my role as a writer and a journalist, as an act of public service. Not necessarily for my government, nor for my people (who often let me down, bitterly) but, rather, for the ideals my country stands for.
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Old 2009-01-23, 00:03   Link #8
Thingle
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I stand for self before others, that's why I didn't really enjoy it.
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Old 2009-01-23, 00:10   Link #9
Vexx
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Somehow I already knew the answer to that.... good luck with that idea. My observation is that it fails in the long term.

Last edited by Vexx; 2009-01-23 at 00:22.
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Old 2009-01-23, 00:37   Link #10
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Public service can mean military service, yes. But being one who has not served my country in the armed forces, an alternative contribution I find myself proud to be doing is being the good, responsible citizen that I am. And that doesn't necessarily mean I have to give up my money for it, though I donate to my college annually.

I'm talking about the things you can do everyday to make society a better place to live in, as President Obama encouraged the American people to do so quoted by TinyRedLeaf. I hold the door for other people, I signal when I change lanes, I put litter in its place, I turn off the lights when I'm not using them, I don't smoke, crunk, or do drugs, I don't waste food, I don't spend more than what I can pay for, I vote, I pay my taxes, I pick up stuff for others, I don't run red lights, I keep the music down at night, I shower every day, and I keep an open mind. To name a few.

My public service is leading by example. Resourcefulness, politeness, responsibility. By donating my disposition to the public, I'd like to think that one person will take on these qualities, and that person will inspire another, and then another. Swing an altruist movement on a large enough scale, and we will inspire ourselves out of our problems. Is that not a good service?
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Old 2009-01-23, 00:46   Link #11
Thingle
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^ How can being polite and goody-goody erase your $10++ trillion deficit and help your employees remain secure in their jobs?

In before people list buying GM cars because that's the patriotic thing to do, when in fact you're being sold cars made from capital taken from you (bailout). Double pay.
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Old 2009-01-23, 01:08   Link #12
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It's a chicken or the egg question, really. But it would be far too theoretical, too large scale, and too idealistic to explain how it can be turned into an effective, practical solution. In some respects, kinda like Obama's speach, huh...?
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Old 2009-01-23, 01:14   Link #13
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Then Obama's using the hard times to ram his idealism down your throats. Smart man in persuasion, almost Hitleresque.
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Old 2009-01-23, 01:16   Link #14
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Originally Posted by Zaris View Post
It's a chicken or the egg question, really. But it would be far too theoretical, too large scale, and too idealistic to explain how it can be turned into an effective, practical solution. In some respects, kinda like Obama's speach, huh...?
Sorry, I don't quite understand. Maybe I have been spending too much time scrolling the bad news today.

Are you saying those things somehow WILL fix the deficit even as the government spends more? Not to mention that mortgages alone are probably an exposure of say, 3 trillion, numbers signaling that as more money is pumped into the system less is pumped out, and the incoming global surplus/deficit flip?

If so, yes it is quite impossible. Don't fight math. You'll fall on your face every single time.

EDIT: Guess I should mention imminent UK/EU implosion too, and what looks to be the start of a war of words between the administration (via Geithner and co) and China at the time when it is least needed.

...

There is much more, just from today even. If you would like to hear.

EDIT 2: Well, you are right about being kinder to people though. But you shouldn't have to be inspired by Obama to be like that. Here there is a volunteering program every summer that gets the poor kids ready for school. I go every year for a month and do about 6 hours 3 days a week. Also donating spare change (I get a lot of money for lunch and such...). Anyway if you want to do something like that you shouldn't need somebody to tell you to do so. You shouldn't expect things back for those things either. I think a lot of people do generous acts because they think about the golden rule, but that's really not the right way to go about it...

It's not right to get mad at people who don't want to do things like that either. I think down at the core how productive a person is determines the value. Everything else is really just a matter of choice. Somehow I think if you feel that if somebody is not being generous enough, that your generosity is for a waste or something it's just...not worth it? I don't know how to phrase it unfortunately.

Last edited by Cluelessly; 2009-01-23 at 01:44.
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Old 2009-01-23, 01:37   Link #15
Vexx
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Then Obama's using the hard times to ram his idealism down your throats. Smart man in persuasion, almost Hitleresque.
yes, yes, you choose your words with every post to show you are all about yourself and screw everyone else. Very nice, very Ayn Rand. But you should keep the "hitler" (godwin law) references to yourself - especially since they're basically hilariously inapplicable.
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Old 2009-01-23, 01:56   Link #16
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I won't deny the mathematical figures. And you're right, things are bad and it's only gonna get worse, I'm sure. Forgive me if I have a more laid back approach to the problem at hand. I'm merely postulating a solution, not providing one.

Consider this though: imagine the money saved if we Americans recycled properly. Imagine how energy saving can keep facilities and utilities going for longer without having to pump more fossil fuels to burn at the plant. Imagine a road network without costly accidents or traffic due to careful driving - where an hour of commuting is reduced to minutes. Imagine what people can do with that time, where people can go and spend. Just a little change in behavior can mean money back in our pockets.

Just a theory. An idealistic theory, maybe. Probably. But what's wrong with idealism? I don't plan on being miserable the next four years. Optimism is just a fraction of the solution. If I can put a smile on a stranger's face at the end of the day, then that is a public service... to me. And that is my answer to TinyRedLeaf.
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Old 2009-01-23, 01:57   Link #17
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Mr Obama echoed a similar message: public service is one of the highest callings, if not the highest, that any individual may undertake
If I was getting Obama's paycheck, I'd say the same
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Old 2009-01-23, 02:11   Link #18
Vexx
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Considering his paycheck is only $400,000 - he gets paid beans for the tasks and responsibilities.

Average CEO of a Fortune 500 company in the US made $14.2 Million dollars this year.
As has been reported recently, quite a few CEOs and their execs make that much in bonuses alone.

I figure I volunteer in various capacities at least 32hrs/month... my wife probably betters that by a day or two since she knits warm clothing for charity.

Altruism has a win-win feature that works out better for more people than a zero-sum game. Creatures that have sophisticated social networks tend to thrive better. There's a balance to be had between personal self-interest and group cooperation.
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Old 2009-01-23, 02:12   Link #19
Thingle
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If I was getting Obama's paycheck, I'd say the same
Not that big compared to what CEO's get.
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Old 2009-01-23, 02:19   Link #20
Cluelessly
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I won't deny the mathematical figures. And you're right, things are bad and it's only gonna get worse, I'm sure. Forgive me if I have a more laid back approach to the problem at hand. I'm merely postulating a solution, not providing one.

Consider this though: imagine the money saved if we Americans recycled properly. Imagine how energy saving can keep facilities and utilities going for longer without having to pump more fossil fuels to burn at the plant. Imagine a road network without costly accidents or traffic due to careful driving - where an hour of commuting is reduced to minutes. Imagine what people can do with that time, where people can go and spend. Just a little change in behavior can mean money back in our pockets.

Just a theory. An idealistic theory, maybe. Probably. But what's wrong with idealism? I don't plan on being miserable the next four years. Optimism is just a fraction of the solution. If I can put a smile on a stranger's face at the end of the day, then that is a public service... to me. And that is my answer to TinyRedLeaf.
Er, stuff like fossil fuels needs to have much stronger parameters. One thing that a lot of alt energy people forget is storage/battery efficiency/transport/accessibility/diversification in usability.

The thought that a person should spend endlessly is part of the problem. It's really not, investment (not speculation, investment) is what goes toward building a better world. The Keynesian argument against savers is easily broken because what is saved can be lent out toward real growth.

Idealism...well, hope and optimism do not determine the underlying price of an asset. The fix is not to wish things away. For an easy analogy...if you accidentally run over somebody on the road and flee the scene, you can't just wish that it never happened. Except replace that somebody with the economy and accidentally with half intentionally. There shouldn't be optimism involved, people need to look at it surgically so that this doesn't happen again for the next century or so.

Well, I am not arguing against public service. But personally I don't like how people think about it. Things like morals are just by the judgment of society. I think it's a bit contradictory to need to somehow validate the why behind public service. Public service in a way contributes to your overall productivity. And productivity is most important, but people can achieve it in any way they want too...I don't know what I'm trying to say either, this is why I am a math major and not an english one.

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Considering his paycheck is only $400,000 - he gets paid beans for the tasks and responsibilities.

Average CEO of a Fortune 500 company in the US made $14.2 Million dollars this year.
As has been reported recently, quite a few CEOs and their execs made that much in bonuses alone.

I figure I volunteer in various capacities at least 32hrs/month... my wife probably betters that by a day or two since she knits warm clothing for charity.
Personal take is that elected officials should only be paid the average living wage. It's a privilege. They're all rich/bribed anyway.
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