3月5日新SAT写作真题文章是出自Washington Post 华盛顿邮报的一篇文章。此次新SAT首考的作文题的阅读文章源自E.J. Dionne Jr.于2013年7月3日发表在The Washington Post(《华盛顿邮报》)文章名为 A Call for National Service。
Adapted from E.J. Dionne Jr., “A Call for National Service”© 2013 by Washington Post. Originally published July 03, 2013.
Here is the sentence in the Declaration of Independence we always remember: “We hold thesetruths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they areendowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these areLife, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
And here isthe sentence we often forget: “And for the support of this Declaration, with afirm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge toeach other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.”
This, thevery last sentence of the document, is what makes the better-rememberedsentence possible. One speaks of our rights. The other addresses our obligations. The freedoms we cherish are self-evident but not self-executing.The Founders pledge something “to each other,” the commonly overlooked clause in the Declaration’s final pronouncement.
We find ourselves, 237 years after the Founders declared us a new nation, in a season of discontent, even surliness, about the experiment they launched. We are sharply divided over the very meaning of our founding documents, and we aremore likely to invoke the word “we” in the context of “us versus them” than inthe more capacious sense that includes every single American.
There are no quick fixes to our sense of disconnection, but there may be a way to restore our sense of what we owe each other across the lines of class, race, background— and, yes, politics and ideology.
Last week,the Aspen Institute gathered a politically diverse group of Americans under the banner of the “Franklin Project,” named after Ben, to declare a commitment tooffering every American between the ages of 18 and 28 a chance to give a yearof service to the country. The opportunities would include service in our armed forces but also time spent educating our fellow citizens, bringing them healthcare and preventive services, working with the least advantaged among us, and conserving our environment.
Service would not be compulsory, but it would be an expectation. And it just might become part of who we are.
The call for universal, voluntary service is being championed by retired U.S. Army Gen.Stanley McChrystal, in league with two of the country’s foremost advocates ofthe cause, John Bridgeland, who served in the George W. Bush administration,and Alan Khazei, co-founder of City Year, one of the nation’s most formidable volunteer groups. The trio testifies to the non-ideological and nonpartisan nature of this cause, as did a column last week endorsing the idea from Michael Gerson, my conservative Post colleague.
“We’ve aremarkable opportunity now,” McChrystal says, “to move with the American people away from an easy citizenship that does not ask something from every American yet asks a lot from a tiny few.” We do, indeed, owe something to our country,and we owe an enormous debt to those who have done tour after tour in Iraq and Afghanistan.
McChrystalsees universal service as transformative. “It will change how we think about America and how we think about ourselves,” he says. And as a former leader ofan all-volunteer Army, he scoffs at the idea that giving young Americans astipend while they serve amounts to “paid volunteerism,” the phrase typicallyinvoked by critics of service programs. “If you try to rely on unpaid volunteerism,” he said, “then you limit the people who can do it. . . . I’d like the people from Scarsdale to be paid the same as the people from EastL.A.”
There are real challenges here. Creating the estimated 1 million service slots requiredto make the prospect of service truly universal will take money, from government and private philanthropy. Service, as McChrystal says, cannot just be a nice thing that well-off kids do when they get out of college. It has to draw in the least advantaged young Americans. In the process, it could open new avenues for social mobility, something the military has done for so many in the past.
Who knows whether the universal expectation of service would change the country as muchas McChrystal hopes. But we have precious few institutions reminding us to join the Founders in pledging something to each other. We could begin by debating this proposal in a way that frees us from the poisonous assumption that even an idea involving service to others must be part of some hidden political agenda.The agenda here is entirely open. It’s based on the belief that certain unalienable rights entail certain unavoidable responsibilities.