We were taught, and we taught our children, that individualism is the highest form of freedom, but we failed to learn the lessons that our parents and grandparents learned from the Great Depression and two World Wars, times that brought the republic together through national service, much of which was in the military.
We've forgotten that the infrastructural backbone of our nation was built in part by the CCC or Civilian Conservation Corps. The Corps built roads where none previously existed, bridges that span our nation's waterways and chasms, and the built-to-last structures we see in our National Parks and National Forests. Along the way, people learned trades that served them well the rest of their lives, they helped build the engine which powered America's greatest growth boom, and they often made friends for life serving alongside their fellows. They learned to pull together rather than pull apart.
I envision a modern CCC wherein every able-bodied citizen - and I consider many who are deemed 'disabled' to be able to help as they may - serves 1-2 years depending on job skills and possibly the ability to "re-enlist" for 1 term of 1-2 years, all of whom help our republic recover from the deeply-damaging Great Recession. I see Conservants help to rebuild our parks, roads, and bridges, and help lay a network of fiber optic trunks and dark fiber that will continue to serve us long into the future. I see them helping lay tens of thousands of miles of underground power cable, bringing electricity from the great wind farms of the Midwest and West to our cities and rural areas not capable of generating enough wind energy to meet their own needs. I see them building solar collection farms. I see them helping to clean up toxic waste dumps. I see Conservants laying the bricks and mortar on new government buildings built in a grand fashion to last rather than the brick-facade, steel building, temporary structures we now see. These would be monuments to the CCC's past and future accomplishments, built in a manner that will allow them to be flexible for future remodeling and which will stand to remind us that universal service is a boon for our society.
We see the path that crass commercialism, rampant runaway capitalism, and mass consumption has taken us down, all of what we've wrought being the result of individualism. A new CCC would again show us what the value of teamwork can accomplish. It would show us that it's far better to get to know our neighbors than to remain fearful of them through our ignorance. And a new CCC would elevate our republic back to the top spot among nations, not through idle boast, but through the quiet acknowledgement that comes from one's peers at a job well done. We would again achieve a status worth emulation rather than revulsion, and would do so by means of care and tender concern for that we love rather than ugly show of force abroad.
Our republic still reels under the staggering weight of the Great Recession, an economic kill switch on our future unless we rewire our way of thinking. We need a boost from within rather than a loan from without. The time has come for us to return to a program whose grand achievements still stand as reminders of what we can do when we pull as one.