To him, public service was just that: service. It was an extension of one’s absolute duty to family, church, community, the military, and one’s country. Service rarely demands that you check your ego at the door nor is it necessarily selfless. If done well, it always carries with it a large measure of personal gratification and, sometimes, credit.
But service, by definition, is more about what one contributes than what one receives. Too many of today’s politicians, at every level, seem to have forgotten that. All the more reason that you and I must remember—and remain involved.
Without a doubt, my career in business has been vibrant and rewarding. But it’s my lifelong commitment to service—whether through military service in the U.S. Army as an officer, government service with Kennedy, dealing with constituent projects too numerous to count, or serving on the national board of the Boy Scouts of America, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year—that has shaped my life, my goals, my perspective, and even my career as an entrepreneur.
Service empowers ordinary people to do extraordinary things. It is, by its nature, educational and energizing. It can even be transformative. Above all, as President Obama has so often insisted, it is necessary to the success of our nation on every level. And our full engagement, be it in politics at the highest levels or grassroots movements at their most modest, has never been more necessary.
So, go ahead, blame your senator, curse your congressman, gripe over the latest lousy revelation about Governor Fill-in-the-Blank. But first take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself: What have you done for us lately?