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Bluefreedom's avatar

President John F. Kennedy once said 'Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.' What kinds of things do you think Kennedy had in mind when he was referring to what citizens could do for their country?

Asked by Bluefreedom (22921points) November 9th, 2008

Do you think this proclamation held true when George Bush was president? I’m speculating that under his poor leadership for 8 years, many people wanted the government to do more for them than they wanted to do for the country.

Now that we have a new direction in leadership and more reason for an optimistic future (in my opinion), should citizens now consider doing more for the country or should we be expecting our government to be doing more for us at the present time due to the bad economy and other problems facing the nation?

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17 Answers

aidje's avatar

He was encouraging people to do their part in feeding the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower had just warned about three days earlier.

bythebay's avatar

Whatever his true reasoning was, that statement/question holds true in any climate. I have always thought that what ‘I’ can do is give back. By volunteering, being a responsible citizen (in all capacities), by not taking needlessly from my government; by giving back.

We can criticize the climate of our country or we can do our part to make it better. We are, of course, all subject to the dictums of our leadership; how we handle it is up to us.

aidje's avatar

“We can criticize the climate of our country or we can do our part to make it better.”

Or we can do both. :-)

srmorgan's avatar

I have always associated that comment from his inauguration speech as the idea that was the impetus for the start and incredible growth of the Peace Corps in the early 60’s.

I can’t quote the number of participants in the Peace Corps in those years but a teenager who watched the news every night it seemed explosive. Volunteers went all over the world to work at ground level locations, in the villages and countrysides of third world countries, all in the name of fighting communism and improving the position of the free world in the minds of those citizens.

It was a wonderful sentiment at the time and inspired a lot of people to join.


bythebay's avatar

@aidje; so true!

augustlan's avatar

I’m just itching to do something. I hope he gives us specific ideas, and/or avenues to do so.

googlybear's avatar

Funny, how you mentioned Kennedy as everytime Obama talks I can almost imagine him as another Kennedy. I believe that what Kennedy meant was that we are born to give more to our nation than that which we take…I think Obama’s leadership will provide our citizens the ability to show our ingenuity and resourcefulness. I look forward to more volunteering by our youth, increased reliance on clean energy, and better jobs along with other things….

Trustinglife's avatar

Interesting question, Blue.

The always-inspiring Marianne Williamson wrote a great article about the connection between Obama’s win and the ‘60’s. Recommended!

Bluefreedom's avatar

Wow, that was a really good article, Trusting. Thanks much for posting that link to it.

bythebay's avatar

That was a well written article. Although I don’t summarily agree with her on all points, she certainly inspires us to be supportive; as we need to be.

smullane's avatar

to join the military, to be better neighbors, to do your duty as a citizen ( vote and obey laws) , live the American dream. Either one they are all awesome and our duty. I think the military is the best thing anyone could do for themselves and this country.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

What do Obama and JFK have in common?
Nothing, yet.

Trustinglife's avatar

Dude, I respect you, but I don’t find that funny.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I meant that since Obama took and taught constitutional law, hopefully Obama will do what JFK did, and attempt to ween ourselves off of the control of the Federal Reserve. Hopefully that doesn’t mean giving control to the IMF or World Bank.


Like Carlin said, “they call it the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

Bri_L's avatar

@chris6137— I thought you were alluding to jfk’s assasination myself. I mean, when you say JFK one of the first things that leaps to mind is not “attempt to ween ourselves off of the control of the Federal Reserve” especially after we have just elected the first black president.

I always connected what JFK said to the Peace Corps to. I would hope now it means, the election has taken place. Lets move forward as a country united to do what we can.

lapilofu's avatar

I don’t know enough history to know what JFK meant, but I liked what Obama said when asked the question during the presidential debate about what he will expect Americans to sacrifice:

“And so it’s important to understand that the—I think the American people are hungry for the kind of leadership that is going to tackle these problems not just in government, but outside of government.

“And let’s take the example of energy, which we already spoke about. There is going to be the need for each and every one of us to start thinking about how we use energy.

”[...] each and every one of us can start thinking about how can we save energy in our homes, in our buildings. And one of the things I want to do is make sure that we’re providing incentives so that you can buy a fuel efficient car that’s made right here in the United States of America, not in Japan or South Korea, making sure that you are able to weatherize your home or make your business more fuel efficient.

“And that’s going to require effort from each and every one of us.

“And the last point I just want to make. I think the young people of America are especially interested in how they can serve, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m interested in doubling the Peace Corps, making sure that we are creating a volunteer corps all across this country that can be involved in their community, involved in military service, so that military families and our troops are not the only ones bearing the burden of renewing America.”

Trustinglife's avatar

@Chris, I meant what Bri said. I thought you meant the assassination part – weaning ourselves off the Federal Reserve didn’t leap to mind! Glad to know I was mistaken.

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