Saturday, February 05, 2005

Patriotism and Good Citizenship

As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary:

Patriot: A. n. 1. A fellow-countryman, compatriot. Obs. rare. 2. a. One who disinterestedly or self-sacrificingly exerts himself to promote the wellbeing of his country; ‘one whose ruling passion is the love of his country’; one who maintains and defends his country's freedom or rights. In this use, at first, as in French (see Littré), with ‘good’, ‘true’, ‘worthy’, or other commendatory adjective: cf. ‘good citizen’. ‘Patriot’ for ‘good patriot’ is rare before 1680. At that time often applied to one who supported the rights of the country against the King and court.
This begs further inquiry into the word "citizen." The OED basically defines citizen as "A member of a state, an enfranchised inhabitant of a country, as opposed to an alien; in U.S., a person, native or naturalized, who has the privilege of voting for public offices, and is entitled to full protection in the exercise of private rights."

To go further and look for the meaning of "good citizen" I did a quick google search. Surprisingly, there are an awful lot of articles about dog training when it comes to good citizenship. (Actually, I shouldn't be shocked at all, I used the analogy of city vs country dogs and blue vs red states here.) But these links are equally matched by a number of child development or classroom resources for educators. Like this one from

The Mark of a Good Citizen
Good citizens understand that they have a responsibility to the community, environment and law. You can instill in your child the virtue of citizenship by explaining the difference between good and bad citizenship.

Traits of good citizenship:
Being a good neighbor by caring about others.
Sharing your time and skills to the community to make it better, cleaner and safer.
Conserving resources by practicing the three R's: Reduce. Re-use. Recycle.
Staying informed on issues and voicing your opinions by voting.

Traits of bad citizenship:
Looking out only for yourself.
Littering and wasting resources.
Leaving all political matters to the so-called "experts."

You can be a positive role-model for citizenship by doing the following:
Show concern for the success and safety of others.
Use non-judgmental language that does not offend or demean.
Do the right thing, especially when it is difficult.
Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Take responsibility for your actions.
Reflect on how your actions affect the welfare of others.

Interesting, huh? Makes me want to apologize for the profanities strewn about willy-nilly in the following post on Democrats. However, makes me realize that these basic humane principals, necessary to the civilizing of toddlers, is so missing in Repubs and Libertarians. Hey you right wing "conservatives," I'd love to only look out for number one all the time too! I'd certainly sleep better at night if I only cared about me and mine. And I'm pretty healthy, so far, so what do I care about insurance or social safety nets etc. etc. etc? This is childish thinking. This is id based greed. This is not enlightened or farsighted. It's not even very Christian, if you want to look at it that way. I'm an atheist so I have to adhere to that "do the right thing even when nobody's looking" all the time -- because I don't believe in the eye in the sky or santa's list keeping. I do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, not because there is a cloudy, harp laden heaven waiting -- or hundreds of virgins for that matter. I do the right thing just because. Just because I'm a good citizen.


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