Why It Matters – Citizenship

THAT.  That is who we are!

We saw people run in terror from the bombings, saw an older man fall on the road, but then we saw so many people run TO those that were injured and hurt.  We saw them fly into action and so many of us were ready to do the same and would have had we been there.

In the coming weeks and months there will be talk of installing more cameras, increased security measures, of more restrictions and more of our individual liberties being eroded for the sake of public safety.

Some who suggest these things will be well intentioned because they don’t want to see tragedy like this again.  Still others will suggest it as a way to seize power while wrapping themselves in the blanket of public safety.   Those suggestions will further erode our culture and way of life and must be rejected.

This week I was called for jury selection.  While I wasn’t chosen, it was still my civic duty.  Most often we grumble and complain about said duty because it interferes with our daily lives.  Yet, how many of us would want someone like ourselves on that jury?  How many of us attempt to shirk our responsibility as a citizen because it is inconvenient not realizing that in the end, we short-change ourselves?

What does jury duty and the bombing have in common?  You and I.  We are citizens of this great nation and with that citizenship comes responsibility.  We have to embrace that responsibility and start taking pride in it again.  We have to give our citizenship meaning and value once again.  It’s more than just a song at a game or a flag we wave.

We don’t need more cameras because they are already cameras; our own.  As responsible citizens we make a backup copy of those pictures and videos and then give a copy to the police to assist in the investigation.  This isn’t informing on someone, it’s policing ourselves.  It’s taking responsibility as a citizen.

We have to start taking pride in our civic duty.  We start praising publicly the individual who snapped the photo or shot the video.  We take pride in their help to apprehend the criminals.  We don’t encroach on our personal freedoms, rather we expand them.  We start taking more pictures, more video, get out more, do more, be more.  And when we respond to a situation like this by helping our own law enforcement to apprehend criminals, then criminals will start to fear the people.  Then they’ll start to fear average citizens.  Then they’ll start to think long and hard about their actions BEFORE doing something.  And before long it’ll be more than just the cops they have to worry about, but all the citizens of the nation too.

And in doing so, we become extraordinary citizens again.

Our forefathers saw citizenship as a responsibility and one to be taken seriously.  It was one reason that land ownership was essential for voting.  They wanted us to take it seriously.  We need to do so again.  Why?  Because we need to realize that WE are the government.  It is “Of the People, By the People, and For the People”.  WE are the people.  We must respond by doing it ourselves.

In the city of West, Texas the citizens are not waiting for the government to respond to the tragedy there.  Instead, they have responded themselves and are reaching out those affected and helping them.  It’s what we do, it’s who we are.

We won’t stop this from happening.  It has happened before and will happen again.  But we can do more to expand our freedoms, rather than limit them, and keep ourselves safe.

Rather than limiting what pictures citizens take, encourage them to take more.  Rather than installing more cameras, start encouraging citizens to submit their videos to capture criminals who would commit violent deeds like the one in Boston.

We’ve been conditioned to accept further security measures as necessary. Enough.  This time we start pushing back and let those in government positions know that we are quite capable of taking care of ourselves.

It’s time we realized that this will happen again.  What we prepare for is how to deal with it when it does.   It’s time we stopped living in fear. It’s time we made heroism the norm.  It’s time we stopped expecting someone else to do the work.  It’s time we took pride in being responsible citizens once again.  It’s time we let those in positions of power know, WE actually hold that power, WE can care for ourselves, and most often do.

Watch the entire episode of Foreign Matters HERE.