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.
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Thursday, August 1. 2019
Besides following the laws, paying taxes, supporting children, and being (mostly) courteous to others, what makes a "good citizen"?
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As we need more peace officers and fewer law enforcement officers, a good citizen would nullify about half the current laws through the courtroom. That would also frustrate the nanny state and political state employees of which many could be redeployed into productive jobs.
Contributing to the betterment of societal trust. Shouldering some of the burden personally toward making your immediate community a better place for both family and strangers, alike - and doing it anonymously avoiding any recognition or compliment.
Yes, adding truth, beauty, and good cheer to our environments.
I would disagree, being a good "citizen" suggests to me specifically performing some sort of duty to government and I think that's the exact opposite of what America is all about. Government is at best a necessary evil and "the things we choose to do together" are almost always better done on a voluntary basis. Working with your church group or a charity or a civic organization to improve your neighborhood and to help the poor and the sick and the elderly in the community is a fine and wonderful thing, but it doesn't make you a good citizen. It makes you a good person and a good neighbor and a good member of the community.
What you are talking about, is not what I was talking about (although your things are important for the community too). We live in a high-trust society, comparatively. Not perfect, far from it. But we have good reason to believe that our institutions are nominally responsive - that emergency services will come when called, that we can fulfill our needs without undue effort, that we can get care and expertise when it's needed - that contingencies have been prepared and put in place. I've lived in many places where this isn't so, and these experiences have enlightened me a bit and made me contemplate what the pioneers and then settlers must have gone through. Tragedy, hardship, total loss and destruction was a common theme then. The exception was successful survival - for now. I think it's why the notion of the cooperative is a common thread pretty much everywhere in the US, you'll help me when I need it, and I'll do the same.
I find it amazing that we have such a strong undercurrent of cooperative volunteerism in a capitalist republic setting. Look at the responses from things like the Cajun Navy, working with the National Guard in hurricane emergencies. We trust this system unconsciously and without recognition most of the time. But we don't often consciously work to improve it in some way, even if it's small and uncredited. Most of the things mentioned here today go toward establishing and supporting the societal trust. Imagine living in a modern-city environment where you can't depend on the fire services or an ambulance, where the cops are guaranteed to be corrupt to all but the most powerful, where medical care may be there or may not, where the school teachers routinely don't show up, where food is not always handy, where banditry is rife. It puts you on edge 24/7 in a way I can't describe. Yes, this can accurately describe some of our worst urban problems, but generally - generally, we live in a high-trust society that most of us take for granted most of the time. My suggestion is that we step outside of that mentality and consciously, quietly, give back to make it better.
Right now our government does not inspire much trust. We have skulduggery in the highest offices that are supposed to be loyal by professional definition to the man they are attacking. We have borders that are not being protected from an invading mass of third-world opportunists. We have elected officials defying the wishes of their constituents and proposing to give away the national collective treasure without thought to cost or consideration of consequence. The elements of trust that implicitly support our society and have seen it through in past times of hardship, are being assailed. If you want to live in a high-trust society, you'll have to do something about it. That was my point. End of rant!
Yes! Keeping your word, making cooperative ventures successful by working hard and honestly when you find common ground, standing up for the truth, standing up for what's right. Encouraging everyone around you to know that you can be counted on, being a catalyst for a crowd to do the right thing. Speaking up, having secured a reputation as someone worth listening to. Being the person others can call in a jam. In general, when the Nazis start rounding up Jews, being the person who won't knuckle under.
We need to push for liberty.
That means pushing against bureaucracy and the administrative state. Voting for small government, and insisting on it from officials.
A willingness to participate in government, local and national. Putting forth effort to see and evaluate multiple sides of an issue, and a willingness to work toward what's good for your community as well as you as an individual.
I would also add the avoidance of self-destructive behaviors such as drug, alcohol, or gambling addictions.
Passing along knowledge of American history and tradition to your children and grandchildren.
In my generation, it was taught in school, but my son (he's 37), never took an American history or civics class in public school. At present, it's either ignored or taught from an anti-American perspective, so it's on the family now.
This is so important, both history and traditions. Traditions can be lost in a very short time. They were originally passed down because they were the tried and proven way of doing things.
I've been thinking about teaching my grandchildren some traditional folk songs too.
Take the time to attend city council meetings and committees. Absolutely take the time to show up at school boar meetings.
DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE AFRAID of the bullies, or their ability to retaliate. Yes, they have it and yes, they will use it, but if we look after each other they cannot win.
A good citizen contributes time to their community as a volunteer. It could be the volunteer fire department, local school, church, helping elderly home bound neighbors, countless choices.
• Being economically productive (noted above)
• Pushing for constitutional liberty
• Opposing the administrative state (ditto)
• Volunteering for civic committees (ditto)
• Attending city government meetings (ditto)
• Know the country's history (not the PC version)
• Explaining what constitutional duties are to those unaware of them
• Voting (preferably for smaller, less intrusive government)
• Serve on juries, if called
• Speak up for liberty in local meetings
There's more, but these make a good start.
I am very impressed with this answer.
Thank you for posting it.
I consider jury duty to be important. A lot of people do not understand the importance of it. Trial by jury is one of the basic protections of liberty in this country.
re In a place like the USA, what is our civic duty?
1)Pay your taxes.
2)Follow all the rules and regulations.
3)Parrot the Democratic Party Line.
4)Don't go church.
To do otherwise makes you a bad citizen, a racist, misogynistic subhuman.
I'd like to give the first ten posts a big thumbs up if I could. (I think #11 was a poor attempt at sarcasm.)
I agree with "don't go to Church" if it is the Catholic Church. How any moral person can continue to support a Church that condones and protects Church Officials raping children is beyond me.
This is a great question! And the answers here are impressive. I have been a merit badge counselor for the local Boy Scout troop for the "Citizenship in the World" merit since the 1990s, so I talk about this question with boys. There are a lot of good suggestions here that I will incorporate into my discussions. The only thing I say to the boys that isn't mentioned here is: serve in the military if called.
Jury duty is an important one - I'm glad #10 mentioned it. Not only is it important for the protection of liberty, but it is also important for how we ordinary people, who didn't go to law school, learn about the law. It's part of the school for democracy. Tocqueville wrote about this. It's also fairly rare in the world.
I am retired now from a career in business, and in retirement I became part of town government in my Vermont town (selectboard, which is a New England thing). That has opened my eyes to how important volunteerism is. I had not fully realized that before.
Great painting by Norman Rockwell to illustrate the question. If you are curious about the background of that painting, which illustrates an actual event at a Vermont town meeting, see this post on my blog.
There area lot of good inputs here.
I would like to change the direction of responses. I think educating the next generation(s) on what this experiment in Liberty called America is all about is the key attribute of a good American citizen.
Fundamental to this is that rights are inherent in the individual ("... all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,... ") - and not granted by the State. The Bill of Rights states that the State can not abridge these rights - period. This concept is not at all understood by the left, nor by the next generations coming into power - they think all rights are granted by the State and that they can be regulated or negated by the state. Add this to the granting of "new" rights - healthcare, income, what have you - and we end up on the path to extinction of our Republic.
So our duty is to educate the next generation(s), if possible, on the unique American experiment that enshrines freedom and individual liberty as the highest ideals of our society and culture.
That's part of what I called educating people, especially the young, about constitutional duties.
The notion that rights are things granted by the state to groups of individuals is utterly unconstitutional, but it's abundantly clear why politicians wish you to think that way.
Also, although this isn't a practical coice for many, home schooling is a good way to prevent your kids from being infected with the statist philosophy coming out of government schools.
An alternative, where home schooling is impractical, is to attend school board meetings, speaking up for classical American values. And where possible getting oneself elected to the school board to help implement them.
Studying Our History
Teaching Our History to Our Children
Gratitude for Those Who Battle for Peace
Canadian here but we struggle with similar issues.
As I've become older I have certainly refined my thinking about such matters. One item that occurred to me instantly upon seeing the heading was the notion of "giving other citizens the benefit of the doubt". I say this in these very polarized times because I have honestly caught myself being rather presumptive about other citizens, their thoughts, their motives and so. When I step back however and think about the broad strokes of the situation the reality is your average citizen usually just wants to get on with their life quietly, unfettered by others. They want to mostly work with their family unit, whatever it may be, they likely just want to thrive largely unmolested by the state and other citizens.
Perhaps I am a projecting Canadian Libertarian in this regard.
Another thought that comes to mind is something Jordan Peterson spoke to a while ago. The notion that for you to participate in society, in a pro-social way, you actually have to give up a big piece of whom you are. One must attenuate a lot of their idiosycracies to get along with others, we have to reel in our personal aims, desires, pecadilos etc. so that we may achieve some degree of common ground with others, enough that we don't tear each other to shreds in selfish conceit. Now I hasted to add that he also suggested that in the private realm its ok to let your freak flag fly a little bit more as in a small private environment its up to the smaller group, the tiny society, to negotiate the bounds of the acceptable between themselves. The most obvious version of this being the family unit.
So yeah, perhaps being a citizen means having a decent portion of humility.
Do your job. Take care of your family. Help when needed. Don't nag.