“Citizenship” attracts the thoughts of almost everyone, whether it is the desire to obtain a passport of a certain country, assessing ways to cut off taxes and get returns, or even to use the rights granted to you by the amendment to get away in a legal situation.
But what about good citizenship?
Citizenship has had a deep meaning for over centuries as the past empires and religions urged their people to be an outstanding example of a good citizen, did they mean the timely payment of taxes, abiding of laws, and respecting the traditions laid down in front of them or was it something more than that?
Yes and no.
Citizenship is widely understood as more a status today that you are either born to or can be granted, but where does the circle of giving back start?
When did citizenship become a “Thing”?
Rewinding the clocks a few thousand years, it is hard to miss out how much evolved the human civilization has become, from picking out berries all day, hitting a person you like in the head to take him back to your place unconscious, and worshipping the golden flower of fire to online relations with people you’ve never met, listening to Kelly Clarkson all day, and failed attempts to download RAM from the internet.
That may be a wide stereotyping of the age we’re living in but the point hits home!
As is said, “With great power comes great responsibility”, the responsibility of sustaining this amazing community falls into the hands of each one us.
Citizenship is an attitude, a state of mind, an emotional conviction that the whole is greater than the part. and that the part should be humbly proud to sacrifice itself that the whole may live. – Robert A. Heinlein
Citizenship is the concept of belonging to a place, being a citizen of a state, province, country, and the world, being a national and a part of a community is what it is.
Being just an occupant of a place doesn’t put one up to the discrimination from good to bad, but it is the behavior of the individual morally that makes him/her a subject to it.
What Is The Meaning Of Good Citizenship?
Good citizenship also means being a good neighbor, coworker, passenger, client, services provider, employer, etc.
As much as the legal and on-paper obligations require a person to behave in the way that they do, your moral relations hold equal value as well.
To live in this advanced and evolved communal civilization is to respect the rights of the state and others upon you equally to their rights over you.
To get the crux of the meaning of good citizenship it may not be so wrong to associate it with humanity and humility.
Cherishing and appreciating the luxuries granted to you by the advancement of the human race is the ever-favorite table-talk, but how much time do you take out to reflect your contribution to keep it that way or even make it better.
Theodore Roosevelt said,
“The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight; that he shall not be a mere passenger, but shall do his share in the work that each generation of us finds ready to hand; and, furthermore, that in doing his work he shall show, not only the capacity for sturdy self-help, but also self-respecting regard for the rights of others.”
Where would we be today if it wasn’t for safeguarding the rights of others, stepping up for the weak, speaking up for justice and equality, and putting a smile on the face of somebody you have never met?
Good citizenship is growing out of the narrow confines of our selfish concerns to nourish the betterment of the global society, being a good human!
What Are 5 Qualities Of A Good Citizen?
Becoming a good citizen is not a genetic trait but a total molding of the choices you make. Striving to become one is as good as being one so why fall behind?
Here are some outstanding qualities that are incumbent to help you out in every sphere of life, as well as help others around you, so let’s fire them away.
Integrity is a trait that gets you far in life; it is not always the easiest trait to hold on to but definitely the one worth the sacrifice of self-interest.
You don’t just wake up one day being the worst person you know, maybe not “The worst” but just a bad person, it is the repetitive loss of principles and self-respect to your momentary interest.
Integrity has a way of coming around at you and just like Karma, it does hit you in the face sometimes because the most dreadful of traps are the ones that we set for ourselves.
Making the right choice when you’re in the spotlight is inevitable because no matter how selfish a person might be, everyone is worried about their reputation.
It is making the right choices when no one’s watching that marks true integrity.
Being honest, truthful, and the one with principles earns you the trust of others not for the sake of it but because of getting a night of good sleep when you hit the bed.
Knowing you haven’t wronged anyone or something to hide will take away the mountain of thoughts that we are engaged in day-in and day-out.
As a contributor to your citizenship and being a human, this trait of yours makes it easier for others to work and live with you as you make everything simple.
Fulfilling The Civic Duties
The argument of civic duties is subject to many philosophical and political discussions as there is not a listed reference to what they are.
But to make the concept understandable, breaking it down to the distinction between “Obligation” and “Virtue” makes it way easier.
We are all a part of democratic societies around the world and have a set of laws governing us, abiding by the law makes you a subject to no honorary title but breaking one set you up for punishment, which makes it an obligation.
A virtue, on the contrary, is an act that is not incumbent upon you to perform but earns you respect and inner-peace when done.
The easiest determinant of fulfilling the civic duties is abiding by the laws of your society or government with integrity, not breaking the law even when morality and situation compel you to.
It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen. – Aristotle
Explained above, integrity stands to be the core trait that many other good traits stem from.
Fulfilling one’s civic duties promises more freedom for the citizens of a place, they do not need strict surveillance and governance to keep them in order and grows the community as a whole.
Driving by the right side of the road, showing up for voting, and performing your obligations with honesty is every individual’s most valuable contribution to the betterment of society.
Patriotism And Nationalism
Patriotism and Nationalism are the terminologies that may have been used in the same context in the past but are worlds apart in the dictionaries of today, one is seemingly the “Good one” and the other the “Bad one”, take a guess which is what!
Put into the words of a layman, both represent love for one’s race, nation, country, or the area he/she belongs.
Nationalism took the toll of being labeled as the rather harsh form of love by the fascist rise in the 20th century which fueled the great World War II, but in all honesty, both are equally good and bad.
As we are not ambitious democrats sitting in a class of political science, it is safe to extend the meaning of Patriotism and Nationalism to a global horizon.
Acknowledging and appreciating the contributions of your fellow beings and taking every step to be a part of the great change is what marks true global citizenship.
It is not only the lifting of flags on your porch and laying down lives at the battlefield for your country, but patriotism and nationalism can also be found in the distinct acts of teaching, governing, running a business, and scientific advancements.
Having a higher sense of patriotism encourages your integrity and nationalism makes you put the concerns of others before you, and that is good citizenship in its essence!
Citizenship is what makes a republic; monarchies can get along without it – Mark Twain
The qualities of good citizenship are more overlapping and interconnected in nature than one perceives them to be.
Self-discipline is a highly personal trait that has a direct impact on your personal life, so how does one accommodate it to better one’s social skills and communal contribution?
The most vital of the qualities, Integrity, cannot be practiced without steadfast self-discipline.
The ability to make harder choices and put a leash on your self-interests requires the programming of the brain into a habit.
As has been elaborated in the book “Power Of Habit”, actions due to habits and actions due to new decisions come from a different part of the brain.
This is the reason why many of us give in too soon while the tracks of self-discipline, every new decision you make is against your habits and so feels wrong.
The longer you have left your decision-making side of the brain to settle the dust, the harder it is to break old habits, but never impossible and never too late.
Being a self-disciplined individual, you develop immense leadership qualities that benefit many others around you.
You grow into a person people look up to for making the right choices and the one everyone relies on.
Setting yourself as a role model for your community, you inspire many others to develop the trait of self-discipline.
Courteous And Respectful
Courtesy and respect bring one a long way into community development and good citizenship.
There have been many debates on the similarities of the two words and at times the differences, but here we bring them into the argument as the good traits that they are understood to be.
The simplest of definitions one can give the two words is treating others in the exact same manner that you want to be treated yourself.
Respecting others, not because of your admiration of their status or achievements but because of their being human, being polite and kind to everyone is what makes the world a better place.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind – M. Gandhi
Being a kind and a respecting person encourages the same in the people around you, it is contagious behavior that comes back to you.
It starts from the smallest of acts, spending an extra minute to help someone at work or even to pass a smile to someone on your way home.
A nation or state that has most of its citizens with the above-mentioned qualities will be a prosperous one, other than an idealist’s paradise!
What Are The Examples Of A Good Citizen?
Examples of good citizens are not just the most famous personalities as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln but the very people we come across in our everyday life.
To list all the examples of the good citizens there have been, it will take ages to write down, and to choose the “Better” ones out of the lot would only be unfair to the rest as all are equally good.
So I’ll make it easier by quoting a personal observation.
The failed Coup D’etat attempt of overthrowing President Erdogan’s government in Turkey stands as an outstanding example of good citizenship in modern times. In 2016, a part of the Turkish military took into their hands to overthrow the government by making allegations that President Erdogan was damaging the secular traditions of the country.
Regardless of the politics involved, the incentives, and the people behind the scene, the public in Istanbul took to streets against an army with tanks and helicopters to safeguard their government. More often than not we hear how it is the responsibility of every individual to protect and contribute to the safekeeping of the government but we learned it in depth from the Turks. Contributions from the loyalist’s army were critical but the showing up of citizens in the streets lent a major blow to the attempted Coup and stood to be a reason for its failure.
We are citizens of the world. The tragedy of our times is that we do not know this. – Woodrow Wilson
We come across many individuals in a day who are the very definition of good and responsible citizenship; it may be the cheerful receptionist, the helpful attorney, the kind doctor, or lively bartender.
No doubt it is their job description to be the way they are, but not everyone follows their responsibilities to the dot, so appreciate the ones that are!
What Is Good Citizenship In School?
A school being the very first exposure to the real world, even though in a much controlled and kind environment plays a major role in setting up behavioral patterns for the kids growing up.
The kids of different ages cannot be asked to understand and follow in the path of the above mentioned five qualities of good citizenship alike, there is a more gradual development into that phase.
Though most schools circle around the same core values, may teachers and authorities are not aware of the importance of certain acts to encourage it.
Starting from the kindergarten and the first grade when children barely even have an understanding of good from bad is an ideal time to sow the seeds of good citizenship by planning healthy socializing activities.
Planning out class activities in a way to teach the kids about acceptance and tolerance goes a long way into building character.
Instead of making them follow the teaching path of punishment and reward, a teacher should encourage morality as to always speak the truth as it has fewer repercussions at that time and is an easy habit to build.
Growing into the second grade and through to the fourth, the children develop somewhat an understanding of good from the bad.
They are aware of lying about doing homework and not returning a library book in the same condition to be a bad habit and facing the repercussions of their wrongdoings to be the morally superior act.
A slight insight into integrity and courtesy is best taught at this level if it is stick to them for life. Standing up for a friend, cooperation with a babysitter, and taking the responsibility for homework and borrowed books builds compassion and assertiveness.
Past the fourth grade, the children are more aware of the world and will grasp on to any concept you may like to teach them. Teaching them individually about the above mentioned five qualities might not bear fruit instantaneously but will show its spark over the span of time.
Learning to restrain from making fun of people behind their back and developing the strength to not fall into the traps of peer pressure develops a strong sense of self-discipline at this age.
To be a good citizen at school is to respect the property of the school, show respect to teachers and fellow students, take responsibility for your actions rather playing the blame game, and standing up for someone who can’t for themselves.
These are minor acts of great influence over one’s life.
Developing these key traits in the helpful and friendly environment of a school prepares a kid to be ready for the responsibility of the practical world that he/she faces after high school graduation.
No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline. – Kofi Annan
The qualities of a good citizen mentioned above are not hereditary but those behaviors that one adapts to over life.
The school provides a perfect environment for molding students into these valuable traits, early years education and schooling plays a dominant part in shaping these personalities.
The teachers and the administration can only do so much when it comes to the implementation of school rules, which is why the responsibility of following them to the letter develops another key trait of “Performing Civic Duties” in each student as they pay their due regard to them.
Good citizenship is to be found in all aspects of life but that is not to say everywhere.
The world has it’s good and it has its bad, what side you choose to stay on today defines you as a person tomorrow.
Respecting not only people but the morality and obligations passed down to you by the society you’re living in will take you towards a more peaceful life.
Other than the contributions to the people around you, many psychological studies show that people that are excelling in their duties as good citizens often live better and peaceful lives as they have better self-control and do not give in so easily to their interests.
Because the harder it is going to be now, the easier it will get to be tomorrow and vice versa.