We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
American and Canadian citizenships are the most desirable in the world. Both countries are the most welcoming in the world, sometimes to their detriment.
We were both, long ago, huge empty expanses in need of sheep-herders, ranchers, pioneers, miners, farmers, and shop-keepers. Both countries made it easy to obtain citizenship, compared to all other countries on the planet.
Far too easy, if you ask me, because true citizenship is not only a gift, but a privilege which is accompanied by many dead-serious responsibilities and duties. Acceptance as a citizen is not a free lunch.
I suppose I view Duties as more important than Rights, because, as a social contract nation, rights and freedom can only be protected by a dutiful people. Jefferson: "A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society." (In these times, the word "right" has been perverted and twisted to mean "a right to get" something rather than a "freedom from state power".)
As I observe all of the complexities of the illegal immigration issue, and peruse the Aliyah Diary series posted here, depicting the long and difficult process of becoming an Israeli citizen, I begin to wonder what American citizenship means, and what it should mean - not the legal part, but the thing itself.
When I call someone a "good citizen," or a "desirable citizen," this is at least part of what I mean, as a regular American:
- They try to obey all of the laws of the land (excluding speeding). - They aspire to honest and honorable behavior in all of their dealings with people and institutions, as defined by our civilization. - They are interested in, and know, the history and traditions of the country and its philosophical underpinnings. -They have some concept of what freedom means, and are skeptical about government power. - They take care of their kids and their families. -They aspire to personal independence and responsibility -They seek ways to give of themselves ("Ask not...") -They are willing to fight and die for their country when called upon, even if they think they know better. - They speak their mind fearlessly. - They keep themselves informed about world and national issues. - They like to work and to assume responsibilities. -They vote, even if they hate their choices, and get involved in community activities. - They love our capitalist heritage, because it provides opportunity and freedom to try to do whatever we want without the weight of government on our backs. -They Pledge Allegiance, and mean it - not so much to a flag, but to an idea, embodied imperfectly in a nation of people. - They help a neighbor in need; they are charitable. - They delight in the words of the Constitution on which we are founded. -They respect our abundant and wonderful free worship of God. -They are grateful for the remarkable system we have. -They love our land, want to protect and preserve our heritage, not as real estate, but as a precious gift and a heritage to be passed on without destruction. - They receive and profess citizenship as a sacred blessing for us as a precious island in a world full of danger, tyranny, insecurity, lack of opportunity, ignorance, hopelessness, brutality, and inhumanity.
There is no higher honor or achievement in life than that of being a "good citizen" of a free republic. It is not easy. I aspire to it, and it is my highest compliment.
Excellent post, long overdue. Wish our national leadership felt the same way.
Here is how it intersects with the illegal alien/blanket amnesty/citizenship policies we are rapidly moving to in the US.
"And what of US citizenship and the duties it brings? Can America stand divided into two groups? Those millions who will break the laws they find inconvenient and the national political leadership of both major parties who encourage them and those other millions who quietly obey the laws because they believe America must stand for the rule of law and equal justice for all?"
Great post, but it's worth pointing out that the founding fathers did not create the concept of "birthright citizenship;" that was brought into being by the fourteenth amendment, passed in 1866 to ensure that the offspring of freed slaves wouldn't be denied citizenship. Even so it can be argued that the authors of that amendment never intended it to apply to every single person who happened to give birth on US soil, and I'm sure they could never have imagined an influx of millions of illegal aliens all taking advantage of this policy. Birthright citizenship only makes sense in the context of a nation with control over its borders.