Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
November 5, 2006
A Reflection on Real CitizenshipThis week we will be going to the polls to vote for the people we believe will direct our communities, our state and our congress with our needs and interests at heart. Before we enter that polling booth, perhaps it would be good to spend a little time reflecting on one person’s perspective of good citizenship and how the people we vote for fit into this definition.
“Being a citizen is much more than asserting one’s right. It is also about making our contribution, and accepting our responsibilities to the common good. The old definition of ‘citizen’ encouraged a certain passivity. What is required today is a view that inspires the engagement and diverse contribution of everyone.” Michael Ignatieff
At the heart of contribution is relationship, since it’s through relationships that most of us make our contributions to the world. When we aren’t fully integrated into our communities through relationships, we’re unable to contribute. This is more important than it may first seem. Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”
As citizens we contribute to our communities and our nation in two very distinct ways. One is by the contribution of doing. The other is by the contribution of being. It is a well know fact that our culture tends to notice and value the contributions of doing more than of being. We are socialized to believe that we are only worth what we can produce. Of course, doing our fair share is very important but it is not the entire story.
A good example of this is simply being is the presence of a new born child. The child fills the family, and its world with meaning. Its presence helps to create meaningful interaction, communion and fellowship. Our gift of presence does not end in infancy. We continue to be gift through our lives. We give a neighbor a helping hand, we create a spark of love, we may be responsible for a moment of insight, a pleasurable experience or even a thrilling encounter. We do not necessarily have to “do” anything, we simply have to be present and involved in relationship. (From Philia - a dialogue on caring citizenship)
What does this all have to do with voting, you may ask? The answer is quite simple. If we want to vote for the right people on election day, we need to have a clear vision of the type of world we want to live in. If all we care about is production, power, prestige, etc. we will vote for those people who promise to maintain the status quo. If we want to experience a loving, safe and happy world we may want to change a few things. If may not be easy to find the right people to vote for. Voting for people simply along party lines is not always the answer. We may have to broaden our vision and exert a little energy in our search.
Do we believe in our ability to change our communities, our nation, our world? Do we believe that we can all be valuable citizens both by our presence and our ability to produce? Are we willing to do our share to the greater good of our world? If we do, we need to vote for people who will work in conjunction with this belief. We need to think about this before we cast our vote. Not all politicians are cut from the same cloth. Happy Voting!
Lorette P. Nault