Is someone inherently a good citizen if they hold the door open for others? Obey the laws? Vote in presidential elections? These are all admirable actions for one to do on a daily basis, but it is arguable that these things don’t necessarily qualify someone as a well-rounded and “good” citizen.
Cynthia Boaz, a professor in the political science department, argues that if you aren’t willing to be a democratic citizen, you don’t deserve to be a citizen of a democratic society. More simply, this is a wake-up call. In order to be a commendable citizen in this country, there are a plethora of ways to give back and become one. Obeying the laws, serving in the military, being patriotic and running for public office are all ways to get involved in your community. However, being a good citizen goes far beyond these things.
Having a moral obligation means to have integrity in conduct, to be a critical thinker, and to stand up for what you believe in, even if it’s against the law. Understanding yourself and being willing to understand others are all qualities of a good citizen. Each person on this planet has a moral obligation to protect the place they live.
Without this obligation, it’s clear that the planet won’t be around forever. Non-renewable resources must be preserved and a good citizen understands this concern. Often, the actions taken are invisible to the outside public but are benefiting the world in so many ways. Running for a public office and being a popular historical figure aren’t the only ways to qualify you as a respectable and morally-good citizen.
Issues like gender inequality; racism, economic distress, environmental threats and immigration are all things that citizens of this country can do something about. No matter if you are a middle -school child or a working adult, there is a power and a freedom instilled in each of us to fight for something we believe in. Citizens of the United States are lucky enough to even have these freedoms and privileges, so being on this planet and not participating is a waste.
Boaz highlights three qualities to strive for as a democratic citizen. She calls them “The Three C’s” and they are a great reminder for what we, as citizens, should focus on. Civic virtue, civic engagement and civic literacy. I’s necessary to promote the quality of life in a community through both political and non-political means by volunteering at a local organization or non-profit or by running for public office.
If nothing else, take this as a challenge to better yourself and the space around you. Everything starts with a small change and we the people have the power to do so.
So get passionate, come together, give back and make the world a better place, one step at a time.