Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Being a Good Citizen

When I was a kid growing up in grade school we were graded on our ability to get along with other children. Our report cards listed "citizenship" as a requirement for a student's progress.

No one is born a good citizen. Like so many other important lessons in life we learn this from our parents, from the church, from teachers and coaches, and from other significant people in our lives.

Hopefully, politicians, people in Congress, military leaders, and others in government are models of good citizenship.

But today, we have lost interest in this. There is a distrubing lack of respect for the presidency. Some of it is the result of the behavior of past presidents. Bill Clinton disgraced himself and his office by his crude impulses. George W. Bush was so ill prepared to be president that many of his statements and actions embarassed the nation and diminished his high position.

But none of that excuses the raw, obnoxious behavior of so many today who simply disregard any governmental authority as valid or useful.

Andrew Gains, a presenter and creativity trainer, has said, "A passive and ignorant citizenry will never create a sustainable world."

Holding up crude signs with pictures of President Obama as Hitler, or dressing up in pink and shoving angry posters at the media, is not good citizenship. Neither is partisanship. Holding a particular political party as superior above all other parites. Refusing to cooperate with those who differ with us. Slamming our opponents. Spending millions of dollars on political ads that are nothing but lies and character assasination. Applealing only to the very worst in people. Drumming up fear and hatred and violence. All of that violates the very fundamentals of healthy and productive citizenship.

Our neighborhoods, our cities and states, our nation, are only as good as its citizens. Unless we are motivated by more than selfishness, petty resentments, unreasonable demands, my way or the highway thinking, racism and ignorance, then we'll see our country continue to weaken and fall behind other nations whose citizens work together.

It's time for all of us to be good citizens again.

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