I was thinking about the substantial vacuum I’ve noticed lately in the way many people conduct themselves.

It’s been so pervasive, I even had a conversation with my wife about the subject recently. The conversation turned into a “what if” talk. So, now I’m asking you:

What if everyone in the U.S. was required to serve in the military? What if, by serving, everyone developed a stronger sense of discipline and resolve? How would the country be different? Would there be as much entitlement in our society? Would we all be better off personally and as a nation if we all just had a little more resolve and much less of the opposite?

What if everyone in the U.S. was required to train and work at a fine dining restaurant? What if everyone had manners and knew how to engage socially? What if everyone treated each person they met with a base level of respect? What if everyone thought a little more of the people around him or her and a good measure less of themselves? What if we all said please, thank you, yes sir, and yes ma’am more often?

What if everyone in the U.S. was required to spend a significant amount of time serving others in some capacity outside the comfort and confines of the U.S. or within our veteran’s communities or other worthy areas? What if we saw our comfortable, even cushioned lives, for what they were – luxury…to 99 percent of the world. What if we understood and were thankful for how good we have it in the industrialized, digitized, free world?

What if everyone in the U.S. was required to start and run a business? What if we did away with transfer payments altogether, and drove that money into funding businesses. What if everyone had to pay bills, make payroll, and get organized enough to run a business? Many would fail. But what if employees started being more thankful for their jobs, put more of themselves into their work, and found more meaning and dignity in work? What if employees cared more? How would the experience transfer to households? Would there be as much personal bankruptcy, debt, poor financial decision-making, and financial stress?

What if everyone found a means of gaining these invaluable perspectives? Would there be as much crime, unemployment, bankruptcy, poverty, entitlement, depression, or social ladder climbing, or would there be more civility, charity, and an ethos of personal responsibility and community in the U.S.?

In the end, life is about “meaning making.”

What if you did these things? How would you be different? How would you make more meaning of your time here on earth?

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  1. Ernesto

    These are all great questions and a really fine post overall.

  2. Arnold

    Great “what if”! I did read somewhere that in some smaller countries where everyone (male usually) is required to serve in the military, such as Singapore, the population develops better sense of respect, work-for-what-you-need/want, and less emotional responses to adverse situations.

    In China during the 90s, high school students all go through a 6-week military drilling and college students a 3 months military training. I found standing hours in rain, marching under a scotching sun, cold water showers in November, and washing jeans with tooth brushes, etc. were a great lesson to my life afterwards.

    But the liberals will disagree..