Over time I have posted a couple things about the all volunteer military.
They have stated that during the days of the draft I was strongly in favor of an all volunteer military.
I was honest enough to acknowledge that that was mainly due to the fact that, in my personal experience, I had spent the first 20 years of my life making decisions based on how to minimize as much as possible the deleterious effects of being drafted - carrying a gun while wandering aimlessly through some jungle somewhere being chief among them.
None of those decisions were remotely similar to ones I would have made had I been allowed to pursue my personal preferences or agenda.
I negotiated my way through those years and its attendant life and came out the back end into a new, post military life as someone and something that had not been on any of my personal preference lists had I been able to look at life and its opportunities with a blank slate from which to start.
But I never carried a gun in the jungle, and I WAS still alive.
As years have passed and as I have had the chance to keep thinking over what I saw during my time in the military I have been left with one overwhelming memory.
The draft driven military produced a huge unsorted mélange of America's youth; we all got randomly thrown together and told we had some mission to accomplish; we all had varying accents, varying educations, varying ethnics, varying sociology; and most of us had never seen anybody like the rest of us before; oddly we all began to talk, make friends, make jokes and figure out how to, as an organized bunch of young Americans, accomplish our mission, no matter how ridiculous that mission might have been; and we talked; and we talked; and we talked; and we laughed at things as they were; and we dreamed of things that could - or should - be; and then we all went home after becoming a sum consisting of more parts than we had started being in our original, isolated, places in the world.
And that phenomenon was the fourth and final wave of that sort of thing: previously there had been WWI, WWII, and Korea.
But I got my wish and America went to an all volunteer military.
The all volunteer military has seemed to be able to fully populate itself from young people who either have few alternatives, or perceive themselves as having few alternatives; they tend to be lightly educated and generally - the hollowing of the industrial gut of America having been accomplished years ago - lack the alternative of going to work at the mill at union wages. So, nothing else presenting itself, they volunteer. I have heard that a measurable number of them are volunteering to learn the military skills to foment insurrection, but that's probably just Facebook chatter.
Anyway, that aspect of the all volunteer military does seem to provide a dangerously unidimensional human input.
Of course the mélange of which I was a part had a large complement of that sort of American also; but there were so many and so divers other complements and flavors of American youth that that complement, like the others, quickly became an enthusiastic and productive part of the give and take of the newly wrought homogenous whole; and, like the rest of us they went home knowing a lot more about what America and its people really are; and they went home having had to learn to give and take, push and pull, respect others' viewpoints no matter how much at variance with their own, and to listen to others, evaluate and compromise.
Having them be the only input to the all volunteer military makes for pretty unidimensional conversations and, probably, unidimensional, or at best, very few dreams, and little learning of new accents, ideas and viewpoints; one might say that the all volunteer military reinforces that which it is given rather than expanding and growing it as the draft forced military did - inadvertently - but did.
Isn't it odd that the draft-driven heterogenous mélange having been gone for forty or more years, we are all now at one another's throats?
Is it possible we need a mandatory national service for all of our youth where they are all forced to get together between the ages of 18 and 21 and perform service and figure out how to accomplish some national mission, no mater how ridiculous?
And talk, and laugh and dream - together - in all their god given American variety; and then go home when it's over permanently changed for the better?
Is it possible that forcing our youth to be Americans, as they each understand that thing, in concert with a variety of their fellows, equally assigned, might be the only way out of the mess we are in?