By Donnie Whitehead & Oster Bryan
When a man or woman gives birth to a child, he or she gains the title of parent. However, if their participation in the child’s life ends at that point, society (and history for that matter) will not deem him or her to have been a “good” parent. Active participation in and throughout the child’s life is required to achieve the ranking of a “good” parent. Citizenship is no different.
Just as being present at birthdays and other milestones and taking an active interest in the child’s life is a requirement of the fiduciary obligation to parenthood. Active participation in one’s own governance is required to fulfill one’s fiduciary obligation to the public. By its very nature, government as well as civilization is nothing more than the combination of its parts. Its parts are the citizens.
The specific obligations of a citizen of the United States are as follows:
1) Vote. It is the basis of our democratic system. We know that people died for the right to vote. But, we should also consider the other people killed to prevent you from voting. Why do you think this would be the case? History has taught us that we cannot stop at this point. If we were all angels we wouldn’t need government, so we must go a few steps further.
2) Serve. You must serve jury duty is a requirement of citizenship and with good reason. The law is like an elastic band the serving on juries allows you to participate in exactly how much or how little it is stretched.
3) Participate. You must participate in the public discourse by taking an active role in your block association, civic association, local social organizations and other groups. In doing so, we gain insight into the issues that affect the community and aid in developing group solutions to group problems. You must know your neighbor.
4) Hold. You must hold those your elected official accountable. You must support the candidates who will advocate for the public good. Once he or she is elected you must continue to apply force to ensure the campaign promises are not neglected. Community good must come before personal good. In following this principle we avoid corrupt practices. Government must function for the masses not the few. Lyndon B. Johnson was a segregationist. Yet, Martin Luther King was able the pressure him the sign the civil rights act of 1964 and the voters rights act of 1965.
5) Run. The last and most important step is running for public office (in the purest sense only). If you can find no virtuous candidates and you see yourself as fit and qualified to do so, it is your obligation to running for public office. You’re decision to run should never be based on likelihood of being elected but to simply serve the public good by giving the public a choice and an additional way the express the public sentiment. William Jennings Bryant ran for president of the United States on three occasions. Though he was never elected, he had a larger impact on the history of this country than many of those who were.
The government can only work as well as its citizens are willing to make it work. As an individual, this program will not work. A collective or group approach is required to encourage government to function. The collective’s effort will be greater than the sum of its parts (exponential growth as opposed to mere addition). If the society isn’t meeting the needs of the masses, it is the obligation of the masses to force it to meet those needs. Good parenting is challenging but good citizenship is even more challenging.