Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v14n19)
Right in my Own Backyard - Taking My Civic IQ - by Brandt Carter
posted: Sept. 15, 2017
Taking My Civic IQ
I look at the world around me and wonder how we got where we are. The country is more divided than I can remember. It seems as if change is happening so rapidly that I can't keep up. I can't seem to find sense in the headlines today. Sadly, I am stunned how people treat each other, how government is not working like it used to, and how technology is controlling our lives.
All of this turmoil made me stop to assess what my role is in my community, state, and county − that as a "citizen". With all the barrage of information, misinformation, and media noise, I don't hear much about citizenship. It seems that discussions about civic heritage and civic responsibility have been replaced by demands of individual and group rights. This observation gave me pause to reflect about what it means to be a citizen.
We have no choice where we are born, and we spend our early life learning the rules of our society. If we don't accept these rules, we can work to change them or move somewhere else.
Our rights are natural rights. They are given to us by God and cannot be taken away by anyone, including the government. You may want to refresh your knowledge of your rights by reading the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. They include free speech, press, petition, assembly, and religion; the right to privacy; the right to due process which is part of equality before the law. And to make a point − these rights may be violated, but never taken away.
So what are our responsibilities? They are few, but critical to the survival of our democratic republic. They include public engagement and spirit, civility, respecting the rule of law, serving as a juror, voting, paying taxes, being informed on civic issues, and participating in volunteer and political activities, and finally, love of our one nation. Historically, success of a democratic society is that people will place the group needs above their individual needs.
You have been born or chosen to live in our community. In doing so, you shall accept the moral and legal obligations of living in this community. They include personal, political, and economic responsibilities. Think about this Citizenship Participation Checklist.
Broad Ripple residents share a common bond. This is all too well felt when a tragedy occurs like 9/11, a natural disaster, or a huge success like the Super Bowl; we draw closer together. It would serve us all to think about our citizenship with all the rights and responsibilities it entails. We are blessed to be in this country. Can we raise the bar our founding fathers set so we can fully engage in our community, state, and country? After reading this article, try to come up with 10 things you are doing that shows your "good" citizenship. Ask your friends and family to also participate in the Citizen Participation List.
At the beginning of our history, Benjamin Franklin warned,
"You have a republic−if you can keep it." E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One)
Thank you John Elson, editor, retired Civic teacher, Tech High School for advising accuracy.
Be civic-minded like these members of the Old Settlers Club in 1883 at Broad Ripple Park.