The United States has grown substantially since the 17th century but even back in those days, there were “citizens” and “aliens” classified as two different groups. A citizen is a person who was born in the country or legally transferred through grueling steps. An alien is the opposite. What one chooses to do as a citizen of a country is strictly up to them, however, there are in fact good citizens and bad citizens. In order to be a considered a good citizen of the United States, one must contribute something to society, participate in public matters, and promote loyalty to the nation. However, defining “good citizen” is remarkably difficult as there can be many sufficient definitions. This essay will develop the aforementioned characteristics of what ultimately defines a good citizen.
When I was a young boy, my mother instilled a principle in me ever since I could comprehend it; she said, “luck will come and go and not everything will go your way, but you must always remember to contribute something to someone else’s life.” Whether that is volunteering, being a good Samaritan, picking up trash on the sidewalk, holding the door for a woman, or something of the like, a good citizen of the United States shows a selfless concern for the well-being of others. Contributing to a society somewhat relates to public participation, however, unlike participation, contributing to society can be done without recognition. Integrity – doing something good even when no one is watching. That is what a good citizen must have, a strong basis of integrity which ultimately contributes to societal values.
Secondly, in order to be perceived as a good citizen, one must participate in public concerns. This may seem drastic given that not everyone in the United States can participate in public office or things of that nature, but a participation for the public’s best interest is important. In other words, alluding to the contribution factor, providing influence and interest by participating in voting in elections, signing a petition for your voice to be heard, even holding a public office position contributes to being considered a good citizen. But why should someone spend time and money participating if they don’t feel like they want to or need to? The easy answer is to respond that it is our civil duty as citizens of this great nation to give back and promote a collective cognizance that represents and bestows a liberty that is incredibly unique. In-class discussion made aware the fact that some states ban people lacking photo-ID from voting. The argument was made that being a citizen of this country, you should be able to vote no matter if you have a photo-ID or not. I disagree with this claim. As a member of this country, you should have the required materials necessary to pursue your civil duty of voting.
The final characteristic required to be labeled a good citizen is somewhat difficult to define; loyalty to one’s nation seems very straightforward. It is, in some cases, a cut and dry definition. In fact, being loyal to your country used to mean serving in its armed forces and fighting for its freedom. However, when it comes to explaining or analyzing if a citizen is loyal to their country, the definition seems to dance in the grey. Citizens are entitled to believe whatever they want, think however they want, and for the most part do whatever they want. The one thing this country asks in return is the allegiance and respect it deserves from each citizen. People supporting and defending different beliefs and their ability to do so with no ramifications is what makes this country so great, and since it is so great and powerful and without this country, said people would not have the ability to believe and think and do whatever they wanted. So, in order to be considered a good citizen of this nation, one must respect this nation. A relative example is when the Mississippi State Flag was lowered on the Ole Miss campus. Although there were many people who did not agree with action of taking the flag down, good citizens of this university respected the higher power decision. I find this condition to be the most important based on the fact that without loyalty, there is no respect and without respect, there is a divided nation that cannot stand. Tying this together, strong loyalty to one’s nation allows the citizen to be recognized as a good citizen.
Conclusively, in order to define the meaning of a good citizen, you must look at three characteristics of that person. They must contribute something to society, participate in public affairs, and be loyal to their country. Although it seems demanding, I believe if one expresses those three factors in their lives, whether they were born a citizen or an alien, they will ultimately be a “good citizen.”
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