This generation has seen an increasing rise in selfish people. Individuals who don’t believe they are accountable to anyone or any group and who actually believe they have a right to do anything they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. This is the idea that everyone can do what they desire and they have no obligation to do anything about anyone else. Worse, they loudly tell others around the world that if you come to America, you can do whatever you want – this is their definition of liberty.
Unfortunately, these false prophets have caused us to receive in many who do indeed act out this scenario and get the rude awakening by not only law enforcement but by society itself.
The problem is that so many are not taught basic civic responsibility. In many European countries and around the world; it is a basic understanding. Many naturalized Americans know it because they are obligated to take a sacred oath before they are granted full citizenship.
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
But a citizen goes far beyond national concerns; there are obligations to the community. We see it in such basic concepts as in jury duty, and paying taxes. In so many ways – too many don’t realize that citizenship is also a solemn duty.
So let’s bring it down to Newburyport – as a citizen in this community, it should be your over-arching commitment to participate in local government, to do what is necessary to ensure that we have the very best quality of life and to promote the general welfare.
Too many just want to go about their business without any concern to local affairs. That is wrong. As a citizen, you have an obligation to do what you can to improve our city.
So let’s put that into a practical application. One, you have an obligation to find out what is going on in City Hall not just when it affects you personally. Two, you should whole-heartedly support the institutions that are inside the city. The schools, the library and any city-run facilities should be aided. Three, we should promote the city by supporting those institutions that encourage visitors (especially since our economy is dependent on visitors) – citizens need to choose and support organizations such as the Cushing House (Historical Society of Old Newbury), the Custom House (The Newburyport Maritime Society) or the Audubon, the Firehouse or the Newburyport Art Association. Pick one to put your energy toward because their prosperity ensures your prosperity.
And finally, support those institutions that help support our infrastructure: the Preservation Trust (for our historic buildings and neighborhoods). There are other local organizations too that are more specialized that deserve your participation. Volunteer on a local board or commission – our city heavily depends on non-paid volunteers to conduct so much of our local government.
Being a good citizen builds character as you go beyond your own needs and sacrifice talent and time for the benefit of others.
There are close to 18,000 people in Newburyport and many more in the area – if but a fraction actually functioned as citizens, many of our local issues would be quickly resolved.
Not doing any of these things? The best way to start is to join one of these organizations and ask how you can help. That’s how you can start on the path of good citizenship!