Amanda Butler of Crescat has quit the Peace Corps and is leaving
For the young American wishing to make a difference in the world, there are two options: be an intellectual and discuss, write, argue, and blog towards progress, always carefully considering both sides of an issue; or decide that something particular must be done, and go do it. Is one better than the other? According to Reihan Salam, talk can be just as good as action:
A number of anti-war commentators have blasted “chicken hawks,” i.e., writers and intellectuals who advocate a hawkish military posture, and preventive wars that incur casualties, without having ever served in the military, or, by extension, without actively encouraging their own loved ones to volunteer. I disagree. In a democratic society, we’re all entitled to engage in the conversation. Some of these writers and intellectuals were not suited to military life for whatever reason. It’s foolish to assume that the contributions they’ve made are any less valuable.
I see his point--some are better suited to thinking than to doing, thinking is a type of doing, and doing is no good if there's no thought behind what's being done. (And of course, some idealist goals are better thought about than acted on.) But still, many people could potentially serve society well both by thinking and by doing, I'm certain that many, like Butler, feel torn between arguing issues in cosmopolitan or at least safe environments and going out into the unknown or unpleasant and acting on their convictions.