The Powerful Unifying Effect of Service

National service could reverse the trend of social and political polarization we see in America today.

Source:, left to right: New marines stand in formation, military and national service members build homes, a Peace Corps volunteer in Cambodia

The four conditions of equal status, common goals, cooperation, and institutional support illustrate why service is capable of mending our social divisions.

Equal Status

Competition — not cooperation — defines the majority of interactions between identity groups today.

Finally, the band-aid approach known as diversity and inclusion training has proven to be woefully ineffective. One study found that asking white Americans to think about the concept of white privilege led to more racial resentment in later surveys. Telling people they should not be racist will never have the impact of showing them their racist beliefs are unfounded through positive interactions with others.

America is experiencing a crisis of character. We must find ways to come together and we need to start treating each other with more compassion and respect.

War is not required to achieve our desired outcomes. Large-scale service participation can succeed at reducing prejudice and improving national unity as long as those in charge understand and adhere to the principles discussed.

Further reading on national service:

Green Beret veteran. Interested in politics, policy, philosophy, and tech.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store