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I have always been enamored of the ideal of public service, which is to say, I have always envisioned myself becoming a perfectly disinterested public servant whose only impetus is to serve his country. Although I am constantly reminded that practically no modern public servant or politician is cast in such a Lockean mold, I am also aware there are exceptions. Indeed, George C. Marshall and Dean Acheson present any observer of political life with two examples of true statesmen in the modern era, to which country was far more important than personal gain. Together, they established the system of containment and alliances that allowed the United States to win the Cold War. However, they did this at a time when the vast majority of their fellow citizens considered government, and the civil service, a force for good. Today, in the aftermath of the sometimes disastrous social engineering of the 1960s and the equally disruptive conservative revolution of Ronald Reagan, government is looked upon in quite the opposite light; civil servants are derided as mindless bureaucrats.
Yet, I plan to enter that same world. And more to the point, I plan to do something exceptional while I am there. However, with the current socio-political environment, such an attempt would be exceedingly difficult. Such a person would require a fantastic grasp of a wide array of issues, a deep understanding of the motivations of others, and a willingness, though perhaps this is better described as a social conscience, to act in the interests of one’s fellows and one’s country, rather than oneself. Georgetown offers me the opportunity to fulfill all these requirements.
Georgetown has the reputation for superb academic inquiry, and I believe that through the General Education requirement that, as a student, I would take in addition to my chosen major, Georgetown would allow me to expand my intellectual horizons. This is especially important as one of the most strident, not to mention correct, criticisms of public servants is that they are far too closed minded, that they are too narrowly focused on a particular field. By forcing me to study outside that relatively small area in which I would originally have confined myself, Georgetown would counteract this flaw, and by offering me erudite and probing teaching in my own chosen field, Georgetown would also go a long way towards preventing me from falling into the ultimate sin of bureaucracy, complacency.
As a Jesuit institution, as well as an intellectual center, Georgetown also offers me the chance to understand others and to serve them. Faith plays a key role at Georgetown, and indeed, the classes I would expect to attend there would give me a new perspective from which I can understand other people’s beliefs; and if one can understand the mental processes, thoughts, and beliefs of others, one can accurately predict what they will do. For both foreign policy and national security strategy, such knowledge is imperative.
Moreover, as a school that is still inexorably connected to the Roman Catholic Church, Georgetown would also allow me to draw upon the philosophy and strength of two thousand years of Christian tradition. Despite my Anglicanism (I am Episcopalian), I recognize that Georgetown could and would impress upon me the necessity of humility and service. Teaching me to be disinterested, to be genuinely unimpressed by material, social, even political trappings, and at the same time dedicated to serving the body politic, would, of course, be to my future goals the greatest contribution of all.
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