King Arthur & JFK's Camelot
Imagine a castle on a hill. A large dining hall with a large, sturdy roundtable made of rough-hewn lumber. Around it gathers several knights garnered in 12th-century armor and often revealing themselves with mirth and good humor, but universally known for their strength, trustworthiness, nobility, and goodwill.
The knights of the roundtable were trained to serve and girded to fight, but only if forced to do so. Their leader pushed them and his nation to avoid wars by using their admired stature to plant the seeds of peace and goodwill, rather than reap the harvest of bloodshed.
Tranquility and happiness reigned supreme in the mythical, or perhaps real, 12th century with King Arthur and his Round-the-Table team of peace-building and peace-insuring knights.
In the 20th century, a grieving Jacqueline Kennedy pushed the world to believe that John Kennedy was pushing America closer to becoming the Camelot of the 20th century.
How? Surround yourself with the best and brightest, challenge Americans to venture peacefully into new frontiers, remove us from the Vietnam quagmire, avoid a nuclear war over Cuba, establish a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, etc. But one JFK policy more than any other could have more rapidly and firmly built Camelot for America and the world -- the Peace Corps.
To accomplish this idealistic goal, he assigned good knight and brother-in-law Sarge Shriver, who like the Kennedys, from John through Edward, often reminded the world:
"I rather send the Peace Corps than the Marine Corps."
Former Senator Harris Wofford, who was instrumental in starting the Peace Corps, reminds us of JFK's Camelotian goals:
"He told me he wanted the Peace Corps to reach 100,000 a year," Wofford recalled. "He said it would then be considered serious. In one decade, it would reach 1 million volunteers."
What if Kennedy had had served two terms and had ingrained in Americans the belief that peaceful National Service was a better means of containing violent "isms" and avoiding warfare.
What if Kennedy's Peace Corp tradition so energized, and smarten the world that succeeding presidents were pushed to continue this New Frontier tradition?
What if other nations recognized the nobility, need, and goodwill generated from such service so that they also implemented such National Service programs?
Imagine how much closer Camelot would be for America and the world if, by 1971, a decade after starting the Peace Corps, a million Americans had served abroad as Kennedy hoped. Imagine if that noble and cost-effective army of good knights had served for the 46 ensuing years after that first decade of service to country and world. By now 5.6 million Peace Corps volunteers, rather than 220,000, would have bread goodwill, propelled peaceful international development, proven their strength, trustworthiness, nobility, and goodwill, and learned first-hand how the real-world works.
What would that have done for the betterment of "humanity"?
Would empathy, rather than antipathy, toward our fellow man have grown?