Every year, when election season rolls around we are reminded of the importance of citizenship. We all know that for a democracy to be successful, all citizens need to do their part. Yet, how many of us have thought about citizenship, or what it takes to be a good citizen.
In the work we do at CLASS (Community Living and Support Services - www.classcommunity.org) we are always looking to have people think about citizenship and taking part in civic engagement. With the rights we have as citizens comes responsibilities we must also uphold. In a recent discussion with some colleagues at CLASS we conducted an exercise to uncover some of the key elements of good citizenship. In this process we discovered the following elements that ranked high:
* Informed - Your can not vote responsibly or testify publicly if you are not informed. Practicing good citizenship requires good, accurate information.
* Active - For democracy and citizenship to work, it takes action on our part - action to vote, to attend public meetings, and to speak out.
* Responsible - Good citizens take things seriously and are responsible. When election day comes they vote; if a community meeting is held, they attend.
* Sensitivity - Citizenship is about society. We are a collection of people, and the welfare of each of us is vested in the welfare of all of us. Good citizens care about their neighborhood, community, and country.
So what is your take on good citizenship? What might be missing from this list? What other variables might you add to the mix? More, what are you planning to do to be a better citizen. A successful community, one that is caring and respectful, is dependent of all of us to do our parts.