What does Good Citizen Mean to Me?

The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are based on the idea that all people have equal rights and that the government was created to protect them; but now in present day, there is controversy around what it means to be a citizen. As a child, my understanding of citizenship was small. To me, it meant that my parents went to the polling booths to vote. In school, I got to participate in mock elections, where my classmates and I voted based on what we heard on political ads and in our households.

I truly did not understand the significance of what being a good citizen involved, and the power our actions and voices have on our communities. To me, a good citizen stays informed, supports and defends the Constitution, and respects others’ rights, beliefs, and opinions. One important characteristic of being a good citizen is staying informed of current events. This can be events in your local community or events occurring nationally. When you are knowledgeable of what is taking place locally, you give yourself an opportunity to have a positive influence on others and be influenced as well. For example, when my uncle’s church needed volunteers for their youth camp, I volunteered.

During my time there, I had lots of fun playing games and talking with the campers. What I took away from that experience was how much an older role model sets on example for the younger generation. On a national level, when citizens stay informed of current events, they are able to speak accurately about what is happening in our country, especially if they are getting their information from reliable resources. It’s important that we are able to talk to others when we agree and disagree with them instead of just blindly going along with what others say.

According to the Fourteenth Amendment, citizens are entitled to life, liberty, and property, those rights cannot be taken away without due process of law. (Cornell Law School, 2019) Yet, our government is directly impacting its citizens and their property by not paying their wages. Michigan has 6,300 federal employees that are not receiving a paycheck (WoodTV 8, 2019). Their ability to live life their way is disappearing. Although I want our borders safe, I don’t want American families suffering. If I didn’t stay informed of what is really happening to the federal employees, I might be just agreeing with my friends without really thinking of what it means to other Americans. Another important characteristic of a good citizen is someone who supports and defends the Constitution.

The First Amendment states that people have freedom of press and freedom of speech. It is our constitutional right to be able to speak what is on our minds and be able to read about our government with no interference from our president or his administration. Unfortunately, our president and his administration are trying to limit media coverage in the White House and control what is being reported. Recently, a reporter’s access to the White House was revoked when Jim Acosta continued to try to get President Trump to answer a question (The Guardian, 2018).

In addition, Trump and his administration have been known to speak against athletes rights to take a knee during the national anthem. Both of these examples demonstrate ways in which parts of our Constitution are not being upheld by those that are suppose to protect it. Understanding the Constitution allows citizens to question those in power. Lastly, a good citizen should respect others’ rights, beliefs, and opinions. The Declaration of Independence declared that all men are created equal and have rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. The First Amendment states protects our Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, and Freedom of Religion. Therefore, a good citizen is one that will respectfully listen to beliefs and opinions that are different then their own.

To conclude the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are the backbone of American citizens’ rights. Today’s political climate has pushed citizenship in the spotlight and made me realize it is more than just voting or a right I was given at birth. Being a good citizen means I have a responsibility to stay informed of current events, understand the rights protected under the Constitution, and be an active member of society that respects others.  

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