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The Call For Human Sacrifice
[June 14, 2002]

By Nicholas Provenzo

There President Bush goes again. In his commencement address to the graduates of Ohio State University, the President renewed his call  for a "culture of service," telling the graduates that "everyone needs some cause larger than his or her own profit." Bush's call for sacrifice permeated his address. "America needs more than taxpayers, spectators, and occasional voters," said the President. "America needs full-time citizens. America needs men and women who respond to the call of duty, who stand up for the weak, who speak up for their beliefs, who sacrifice for a greater good."

So on a day where young men and women celebrate their joining the ranks of the educated, Bush's call for them was not to pursue their own happiness but to pursue the happiness of others. The alleged payoff, according to the President, is that "your own life will gain greater purpose and deeper meaning."

What possible greater good and deeper meaning can come from the President's call that the graduates renounce their values, hopes and desires so that they can serve the values, hopes and desires of others? How is it is true that civilization requires that we must lay down our own interests to enjoy peace and prosperity? Or is it, in fact, the other way around?

Imagine if the President had said that the graduates should never sacrifice their own values in his commencement address. Imagine if the President had declared that the deepest meaning of the American dream is that every person is free to pursue his own happiness, and when threatened, act to protect it. Imagine if the President had said that such an America demands no sacrifice, but only self-interest. That would be a commencement address that I'd like to hear.

The contrast between sacrifice and self-interest is not an issue of mere semantics. It is a contrast that speaks to the light and day differences between two visions of America, one of freedom and one of serfdom.


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