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without exception -was summoned to dedicate a year of his life not to destruction but to the construction of a juster and freer life here and abroad, I think the country might rise up and put itself through that enormous change of life that Kennedy was clearly calling for. Out of such a program of national service, either compulsory for all, or “volunteer” on such as basis as to challenge every citizen’s honor and pride, a sense of national goals could emerge far more concretely than out of a committee of minds meeting in a government or foundation office. Service of this kind could provide a focal experience for the entire country and for all individuals in it. This is a cause, and in attaching it to Kennedy’s name I am suggesting he had seen the Holy Grail of modern civilization: a moral substitute for war. Sixty years ago our grea philosopher, William James, wrote of the crucial importance of finding this still unknown activity or value that might keep civilization from destroying itself. A famous exchange of letters between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud reveals their concern with the search for a substitute for war, and the appalling threat of nuclear arms we have lived with for twenty years obliges us to listen to these prophets. NATURALLY, the proposal of national service with everything in it that smacks of a peacetime draft, invasion of individual freedom, and further federal powers, would be politically and morally unthinkable to many. This was my own first reaction. Yet here lies the very challenge of the idea, for it must cut through the stagnation that affects many of our traditions, our policies, our moods, our technological economy. If such a project can be presented and grasped not as relief for an economic dilemma but as a mission dedicated to peace and freedom and raising living standards, then it could spell a political and moral renovation for the whole country. The vehemence of the quarrels it would raise might shake us out of our hypnotic preoccupation with defense budgets and the gross national product. Its obvious risks are the very features that could make it appealing to the segment of our country that now remains indifferent to all policy because there seems to be no motive other than accumulating profits and blind anti-communism. The young, the truly young who respond to appeals other than those to their property and their security, represent the largest segment of that disaffected group. To consider seriously, let alone advocate,’ such a violent departure from our customary laissez-faire attitude requires hardnosed idealism a gambler’s conviction about what the country can do in the face of present odds. To lift the proposal into viable terms for presentation to the public would take the ultimate in political skill and conviction. It is called leadership. We need it. In detail, such a proposal is open to endless variations. Not repealed but thoroughly overhauled to new specifications, Selec 2 The Texas Observer tive Service could operate as a clearing scarcely be made compulsory. It is possible, according to what we know of history, that only an urgent crisis such as foreign attack or total economic disaster could bring about so great a unity of purpose. Therefore, as an alternative, a program on a comparable scale, but voluntary, could be considered of work would endanger his health. All with, naturally, the full weight of leaderwould serve one year at the ‘same pay scale. ship and persuasion behind it to make it a A subsequent year, perhaps two, might be prime instrument of national policy. But it considered for volunteers at a higher rate is up to us to make our goals and our hisof pay on the basis of clearly defined skills tory. Putting a man on the moon makes a and performance. Many people might very indirect appeal to people’s minds and choose to serve after their professional affects their lives not at all; helping directtr ‘ainin so con ribu e i s.1 ly with one’s own hands in solving the Everyone’ physically qualified would be technological, economic, and moral mess expected to take a minimum of thirty days’2 we have ourselves into will mean infinitely more than merely asking for more and ri orous physical training an orientation; ‘ subsequent y peop e -wou be allowed as better institutions of higher education. Our much as possible to volunteer for the kind colleges and universities are rapidly beof work they prefer. Married couples might coming institutions of higher segregation serve together. Military rvlce be where sub-adults are kept at a low simmer, included among the options along with held apart from certified adults in the “real those listed earlier like teaching, hospital world,” and nourished on a diet largely staffing, social work, foreign service, concomposed of sports spectaculars, beauty servation of resources, etc. For many people coming from underprivileged backgrounds, “service” would consist in physical rehabilitation, basic education, and job training. \(The .rob Corps has already inhave to be set up for conscientious objectto attack its most serious problems and ors to be heard if they had genuine reasons face the deep changes in political and ecoto refuse this kind of peace service. nomic structure that must soon be made. 1 For we have a shuddering domestic crisis THE STRONGEST OBJECTION I on our hands and must have the courage to acknowledge it. The principle of national \\ ficulty of finding a high degree of national, government, might allow us to live with agreement on the goals of such an underourselves and our neighbors on a new basis taking. Without such agreement it could ‘of responsibility and cooperation. THE TEXAS OBSERVER A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South 58th YEAR ESTABLISHED 1906 Vol. 56, No. 24 70espp December 11, 1964 East Texas Democrat, which in turn incor porated the State Week and Austin Forum as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or ca ter to the ignoble in the hard to the truth as we find it and the right the rights of man as the foundation of democ racy; we will take orders from none but our human spirit. Advocate. Incorporating the State Observer and the We will serve no group or party but will hew hurst, TA 6-3583; Tyler, Mrs. Erik Thomsen, 3332 Lynwood, LY 4-4862; Cambridge, Mass., Victor Emanuel, 33 Aberdeen Ave., Apt. 3A. voices. San Antonio, Mrs, Mae ,B. Tuggle, 531 ElmNone of the other people who are associated work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the ediwith them, because this is a journal of free with . the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own tor does not necessarily imply that he agrees torial policies and contents of the Observer, The editor has exclusive control over the edi Editor and General Manager, Ronnie Dugger. The Observer publishes articles, essays, and Partner, Mrs. R. D. Randolph. creative work of the shorter forms having to Business Manager, Sarah Payne. do in various ways with this area. The pay Contributing Editors, Elroy Bode, Bill Bram depends; at present *it is token. Unsolicited mer, Larry Goodwyn, Franklin Jones, Lyman manuscripts -must be accompanied by return Jones, ‘Georgia Earnest Klipple, Willie Morris, postage. Unsigned articles are the editor’s. James Presley, Charles Ramsdell, Roger Shat The Observer is published by Texas Observer tuck, Dan Strewn, Tom Sutherland, Charles Co., Ltd., biweekly from Austin, Texas. En tered as second-class matter April 26. 1937, at Alan Wright. the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act Staff Artist, Charles Erickson. of March 3, 1879. Second class postage paid at Contributing Photographer, Russell Lee. Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $5.00 Subscription Representatives: Austin, Mrs. a year; two years, $9.50; three years, $13.00. Helen C. Spear, 2615 Pecos, HO 5-1805; Dallas, FOreign rates on request. Single copies 25c; Mrs. Cordye Hall, 5835 Ellsworth, TA 1-1205; prices for ten or more for students, or bulk El Paso, Mrs. Jeanette Harris, 5158 Garry Owen orders, on request. Rd., LO 5-3448; Houston, Mrs. Shirley Jay, 10306 Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Cliffwood Dr., PA 3-8682; Lubbock, Doris Blais Observer, 504 West 24th St., Austin 5, Texas. dell, 2515 24th St.; Midland, Eva Dennis, 4306 Telephone GR 7-0746. Douglas; OX 4-2825; Odessa, Enid Turner, 1706 Change of Address: Please give old and new Glenwood, EM 6 -2269; Rio Grande Valley, Mrs. address and allow three weeks. Jack Butler, 601. Houston, McAllen, MU 6-5675; house to supply a large spectrum of corps and services in all parts of the country and abroad. An individual could choose to do his service at any time between’ 18 and 30, and no one would be exempted for any reason except medical certification that any form contests, and Greek letter snobbery. We must find an alternative to putting more and more of the 18-23 age group into cold storage through college education for all. A Universal Draft for National Service to the proposal is not its * impracticality \(it would be enormously but the dif service for social ends, a new institution in