The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79
Appendix B. — National Service. — A Young Man's Obligations
A Young Man's Obligations.
What are a young man's obligations to his country? Has he any? when he is born the world does he arrive full of rights and free of obligations? Does he not owe something to the State which protected his parents; to the free institutions which are the result of the blood and sweat and tears of his liberty-loving ancestor; to the thousand and one conveniences of civilisation which the taxpayers have provided for him? Does he start fresh and free on the day of his birth with no debt to his account? How about board and lodging due to his mother for the previous nine weary months? Has he repaid her for that and for all she went through for him? Has he repaid his debt to his father and the State for food and clothing for the benefits and protection of civilisation, and for free education? The real truth is that he born with a veritable mill-stone of debt about his neck, which becomes weightier and weightier till he reaches maturity. Up to then he has been unable to repay anything by social service or sacrifice Some young men seem debt, and apparently conceive that the State owes them an obligation for their presence in the community.page 14
What a mistake ! If a youth is patriotic and tries to pay his debt, he is a priceless glory to his country, and can cancel the debt by this one great sacrifice of military service. But if he repudiates his debt, and denies that it is his duty to protect his country, his mother, and his sisters; and turns to live lazily at home while bravery, men do his job for him, then the sooner the country is rid of his presence the better. He should not enjoy benefits for which others lay down their lives.
(from "The Dominion," 20th January, 1916)