Although many countries require community service from their citizens, the United States has traditionally not done so. With the division of power between federal and state governments, and a strong history of curbing the control of government over private individuals being fundamental aspects of American culture, compulsory community service has been considered inappropriate to American society. However, this paper will argue that compulsory community service would be a benefit to the nation as a whole.
There are strong arguments against the idea of compulsory community service apart from the fact that it involves government control of individuals. For example, those who are opposed to compulsory community service often argue that “making service compulsory negates the whole purpose of volunteering” (Greenya 2006, p. 1). In other words, by making community service compulsory, governments would be taking away from individuals the aspect of choice that makes volunteering an ethical choice. This might result in people feeling resentful about community service, which would in turn result in a less charitable society.
Compulsory community service could, however, be understood as a way of building a sense of American national pride. One argument often cited by supporters of the idea of compulsory community service is that “requiring national service will foster national unity and inspire more volunteerism from Americans young and old” (Greenya 2006, p.1). What this suggests is that by losing one positive aspect of community service – the free-will charitable nature of the act – society would gain many further positive aspects in recompense. Such benefits would include the forging of community relationships and of greater empathy of individuals for one another.
Having considered both sides of this debate, therefore, it seems that compulsory community service is one feature of other nations that America might benefit from emulating. Compulsory community service offers more benefits than it takes away, making it a good choice for American society.
- Greenya, J. 2006. National Service: Should Community Service Be Required? CQ Researcher, 16(25), pp. 1-33.