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Civics Sunday: Two Personal Views On Being a Citizen

Because the topic of the month for the Senior Writers’ Group was “What Does Being a Good Citizen Mean to You?” the HR Publishers felt these two essays not only deserved a wider audience, but also would be a great addition to our Civics Sunday column.  See what you think.

A Good Citizen, by Lois Hosmer

Being a citizen means one is a member of a group with specific needs and goals.  Her in the United States citizenship is like a three-layer cake; the cities and towns where we live, the states we are part of, and the federal government that oversees it all.

For most people the foundational layer is, on a daily basis, the most important. It presents endless opportunities for individual citizens to put their good intentions to work.  Town or city taxes pay for the basics; policemen, firemen, schools, libraries, senior center, and much more.  Possibilities for volunteering to enhance the services provided are many.  A library can always use help shelving books, running a book club, or reading to children.  Auxiliary police are a great help when extra support is needed.  The food pantry needs donations of time, money, and food.  The local senior center needs volunteers to present programs and help serve meals.  Schools need volunteers in a variety of ways, from kindergarten through high school.  The list of ways to contribute something of yourself to enhance town services is long and varied.  Serving in town elected office presents another way.  Most important of all is to vote.

The middle layer of our cake is the county/state level.  No town or city can provide all the needs of its people.  The individual towns and cities join forces with their closest neighbors at the county level and the counties are overseen by the state.  This layer accounts for courts, highway oversight, health facilities, and much more.  School curriculums, distribution of state funds, and transportation issues fall into this category.  We need honest committed candidates to fill these offices.  An individual could collect signatures for someone he/she considers a reliable candidate.  A sign on your lawn fro someone you consider deserving is no trouble at all.  It is crucial to keep informed of how these officials are performing in office.  A good citizen votes carefully.  No vote.  No right to complain.

The top layer of our cake is the federal government; three equal departments, executive, legislative, and judicial.  The United States is a huge and varied country.  It is the responsibility of this top layer that make the parts work together.  It falls to this group to make the laws, see that they are executed fairly, and adjudicates disputes.  This layer must navigate the world beyond our borders.  The defense of our country is in their hands.  Many good citizens come forward to serve in the military, join the Peace Corps, and other institutions that keep us safe and make us good citizens of the world at large.  Again, vote.  No vote, no complaints.

Our three-layer cake will be a delicious treat; filled between the layers and frosted with the good will and good works of every citizen. 

What Does Being a Good Citizen Mean to You? By Silvio Mendino

What does being a good citizen mean to me?  An interesting question.

Before I answer it, however, let’s take a brief look at the situation we all find ourselves in during November 2019. 

I have lived on this whirling orbit that we call Earth for some 81 years.  During this time, I have experienced personal accomplishments, tragedies, euphoria, and disappointments.  Never, however, have I lived through the incredible environment that we find ourselves in today.

The toxic, poisonous climate has destroyed lifelong friendships and isolated family members from one another: parents from children, brother from brother, and sister from sister.  Gone are the days when two parties would calmly and rationally engage in discussions, calmly listening to and accepting opposing points of view.

It has reached the point where I refuse to raise political issues for discussion with my friends, neighbors, business associates, church members, and, yes, even members of the Senior Center, for fear of an unexpected violent response.  A casual remark or comment could very well result in an angry, or, yes, even a violent response.

At present, our nation finds itself split, 40-60%, with no solution in sight.  Somehow, we have lost the ability to LISTEN to one another to respect a point of view that may be contrary to ours.  We have lost the ability to COMPROMISE with one another.

E-mail technology has enabled tens of thousands of misguided individuals to broadcast their messages of bigotry and hate to many impressionable, gullible individuals throughout the world.

I do not believe that I am exaggerating when I say that our very future as citizens of this country is in jeopardy.  Being a “good citizen” means staying informed and respecting the points of view of others with whom you disagree.  Our very future depends on it!

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