A lot of people seem to think being a citizen is just something that happens to you. Oh, sure if you moved here from Elsewhere there's an oath, and some classes and a test, but hey, it's just...there. Like a mole or a tattoo. Right?
Maybe not. To be an active citizen, a good citizen, that takes some effort. No, I'm not just talking about voting. I'm not even talking about being well-informed, though that's certainly a part of it.
Being a good citizen includes being a good neighbor. It includes understanding that that person down the block or on F@cebook with the absolutely crazy political notions has probably done exactly what you did: applied their knowledge and feelings to the issues of the day and come to their best conclusion. If you disagree, what you disagree about are those issues, and they are no more likely to be an evil plotter or a mouth-breathing idiot than you are. Elections and government actions are not an excuse to treat one another as badly as you can. They may indeed be a reason to go marching with signs, or writing your Congresscritters, or ringing up the President, but your neighbor isn't too likely to be a denizen of Congress or napping at the White House. He or she is just another face in the crowd like you. Why not treat them in the manner you would like to be treated?
And for pity's sake, no matter what side of today's contentious politics you find yourself on, fact-check! You can look up the number of Executive Orders per President per month online, for example. Find and share sources of factual information; they will serve you better and more faithfully than any collection of opinion, no matter how well-written.
Treat other people decently. Prefer fact over speculation, rumor and opinion. Check for "confirmation bias" when reading or listening to news-like material. Be a good citizen.
6 months ago