Should National Service be Mandated?

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Military national servicemen on duty

The debate of whether national service should be required or not has always been something constant, seen since the beginning of America’s history when war was imminent, and soldiers were lacking. The concept of national service, simply put, is where people from all over the nation come together to work on charitable public acts, such as tutoring or maintaining a public park. While volunteering and collaborating to create better public spaces is undoubtedly supported, the question of whether it should be mandated is tearing the nation apart.

Speaking of dysfunctional countries, many supporters of this idea use the reality that people in the U.S. are growing more and more divided to reinforce their claim. They argue that people who have different political beliefs avoid each other at all costs, and because of this clear separation, people are threatening the unity of the U.S. A solution must be set to prevent further division, and mandatory national service is the way to do it. People collaborate and bond through working together for a common goal. By obligating this valuable experience, people will be forced to become more unified and relieve the political tension in the nation. And not only that, but many young people have expressed their discomfort at transitioning into adulthood. They struggle with the growing responsibilities and pressure being placed onto their shoulders; because of this, they have wanted a “bridge” that could prepare them for it. The perfect way to serve as the “bridge” would be mandatory national service, as it lets them develop their skills and mindset and lets them mature before depositing them into adulthood.

But across many states, people oppose this idea and disagree with the supporters. Their reasons are hard-cut and logical, arguing that it would cause more harm than good. While some people are against the idea simply because they don’t want to be forced to participate in something that is obvious, more subtle contentions are laced behind their reasoning. They reference a sentence in the 13th Amendment, which states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for the crime of which the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” Many opponents of mandatory national service, especially those knowledgeable about the law, firmly say that required national service, backed up by the government, would qualify as “involuntary servitude,” which goes against the Constitution.

Additionally, the wealthy are prone to manipulate this program, too, because of their history of doing so. It would be unfair for lower-income families to participate in something catered to the rich. Mandating national service also deprives some young people of working at their jobs or taking care of their families, which may be imperative for them and those around them.

The debate of compulsory national service has indeed divided Americans even further along with opposing political beliefs. Still, it is a discussion that needs to happen as soon as possible so a decision can finally be made. Both the affirmative and negative sides have their points, but it is not clear whose side is winning or makes the most sense. In the end, it is up to officials to decide and for the nation to accept.