I’m hoping that if John McCain is elected president, he’ll establish an official office of Acceptable Causes Larger Than Oneself. Clearly, serving a Cause Larger Than Oneself is important to the former naval aviator and P.O.W., and it’s undeniably worthy, one of those “values” most of us sincerely hope to instill in our children. Less just “doing well,” more trying to “do good.”
But after watching the Republican convention for the past two nights, I’m deeply confused about which causes count as worthy, as large enough to be considered larger than self. Clearly serving in the military counts. It’s both a cause larger than self"and permanent proof of one’s patriotism. As the daughter of another naval aviator who served two tours in Vietnam, I’m all for that. Volunteering to put yourself in harm’s way to protect your country"and the ideals for which it stands"is both honorable and by every measure a selfless act. So check military service
After watching Sarah Palin’s speech last night, it’s clear that working as a community organizer does not count as a Cause Larger Than Oneself. Even if you forgo a high paying job on, say, Wall Street, to help working-class families devastated by the closing of steel mills in their communities, it’s really just a selfish attempt to avoid the kind of accountability that comes with, say, running a beer distributorship.
Hockey moms? Check. Moose Hunters? Check. Small-town city council members and mayors, as well as the governors of small (preferably rural and Western) states? Check. United States senators? As long as they’re not from Illinois or Delaware, check.
Volunteering for international aid agencies that help poor children in countries like Bangladesh and Rwanda clearly counts. But it’s unclear whether a paid job with such agencies would also be acceptable. Obviously, if it was affiliated with the U.N., this would be horrible and not a qualified cause. And the jury is out if the poor children are American. I suppose there might be a way to qualify the cause"as long as it wouldn’t require one to be a community organizer.
And what about working to bring change to the American political system? If the candidate, the so-called agent of change, were a military veteran, roger that. But an erstwhile community organizer? So not.
There are so many “causes” in between, somewhere on the continuum from veteran/POW/beer distributor, to community organizer, that it all gets pretty confusing. I’m just hoping that the McCain/Palin administration’s new office of Acceptable Causes Larger Than Oneself will help sort all this out."