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Good citizens

September 7, 2012 - Jim Anderson
I thought the best part of President Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention on Thursday night was this:

“As Americans, we believe we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights — rights that no man or government can take away. We insist on personal responsibility and we celebrate individual initiative. We're not entitled to success. We have to earn it. We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system — the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known. But we also believe in something called citizenship — a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.”

Citizenship was the word that caught my attention.

It speaks to the little piece of the world that I see each day. A community of citizens that, for the most part, is diligent about our “obligations to one another.”

There are problems, of course, and on the big landscape, more room for cynicism. That seems to go with the territory of power and single-minded success. (Presidents included?)

What is success without good citizenship? At least the president has raised the issue.

People have different takes on what it means to be a good citizen.

Bill O’Reilly wrote the other day that you’re a bad citizen if you think Jimmy Carter was a great president.

That misses the point, too.

Citizenship has nothing to do with opinions. It’s about obligations, respect, duty, humility. Good citizens agree to disagree.

We’re not entitled to success. But we ought to be entitled to a nation where anyone can be a good citizen.



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