My favorite discussion this year in my Public Administration class centered around whether civil service was a calling [or not]. This led me to think about why I get so much satisfaction out of my government web design gig. The answer I usually shell out is because every day I get a chance to improve the way government interacts with its citizens. Despite this being true and the most immediate reward of my job, I figured there has to be more. It’s my family, and Catholic school.
My grandpa fought in World War II and then was was a mail carrier with a rural route for the Post Office for years. My mother taught special education her whole life. The Holy Cross brothers at Notre Dame also emphasized service. After awhile it gets ingrained. I enjoy working for the government because it is service-driven, not profit-motivated. Whenever I get a call forwarded to me from the help desk, I always make sure I don’t send them around on another bout of transfer-tag. If I can’t answer their question or help them out, I make sure that if I do have to transfer them, they get sent to the exactly correct person, not just the correct office. The reward is their gratitude.
So, I guess it is easy to see where I fall on the argument. I feel called to civil service, so I think it is a calling.
It might seem like an exception, but the Selective Service (a fascinating Wikipedia article), and the fact that I had to register for the [non-existent] draft in order to receive federal student loans is a big reason why I never signed up for the Armed Forces. I’m non-combative by nature, but I’m also stubborn as hell when someone tries to force me to do something. It is fitting then, that I would resent signing up for the draft; it is an enforced civil service (among other things), and therefore inconsistent with my opinion that civil service is a calling.