"Unlike an old-fashioned draft, this 21st-century service requirement
would provide a vital element of personal choice. Students could
choose to fulfill their obligations in any of three ways: in national
service programs like AmeriCorps (tutoring disadvantaged children), in
homeland security assignments (guarding ports), or in the military.
Most would no doubt pick the less dangerous options. But some would
certainly select the military—out of patriotism, a sense of adventure,
or to test their mettle. Even if only 10 percent of the one-million
young people who annually start at four-year colleges and universities
were to choose the military option, the armed forces would receive
100,000 fresh recruits every year. These would be motivated recruits,
having chosen the military over other, less demanding forms of
"less demanding." This is a stupid argument. Less deadly certainly. But it's fucking hard toteach (says a man with no personal experience). It's doubly hard to teach when poorly trained. It's triply hard to teach when the students face challenges beyond the scope of needing to sit still...and verge into severe behavioral problems...and oh, crushing poverty, etc. And it's quadruply hard to do all that while being told that your struggle is worthless. The idea that those things that come easily, or are more easily imagined and less often romanticized are any less important is to think that careers should be chosen based by a trip to Blockbuster. Even if a smart populace wasn't the most important thing we can do to save our selves, it'd be wrong. Work is worthwhile. To get up daily and strive to perform your task, whatever it is, is noble. Just because it's easier to imagine yourself as a teacher than a soldier doesn't make it easier to do. you're right the risks are dramatically different. But for some the structure of the military is familiar and reassuring. and for those people being a free lance writer might be a real chore. for others having their souls crushed by a system that doesn't work and leaves millions of children without the basic tools to function in a society that regards them as spare parts...well that could be rough as well.
Work is noble. Sacrifice and passion are heroic. No matter the form, no matter the title.