Tuesday, January 31, 2017

On Citizening--

     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.

     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.

7 comments:

B said...

A good idea. How to implement it? How to get others to get over their "not my guy" derangement?

Folks (on both sides) won't give the other candidate (or President) an even break....have terrible double standards. Won't use anything approaching logic when judging the actions of "not my guy"...

I'm not sure how to deal with folks who can't be rational in their disagreements.

EvenMoreAnon said...

Regular commenter here, but increasingly concerned with OpSec -

I spent 10 years living in an EU country, married one of their nationals, earned a degree from one of their universities, worked for one of their cherished national institutions, etc. They never would grant me citizenship because my work travel had me outside of the country for more than 90 days most years, and therefore I didn't show enough "attachment".

I had gone-native enough that my neighbours would rant about "those foreigners coming here and taking our jobs" and it wouldn't occur to them that just like the EU nationals from other countries that they were complaining about, I was also a foreigner.

Once I was out of the country for 9 months straight working on a contract for a foreign employer, and they therefore pulled from me their equivalent of a green card. We had already decided that the grass was greener on this side of the pond and were in the midst of organizing ourselves to sell up and move, so it turned out that that didn't have any particular negative implications for us. But it might have. If we want to move back there to live, I need to re-apply for permission from step-1.

At no time did I find any of this unjust. Their rules were published, they were clear, and they enforced them.

EvenMoreAnon said...

And in re-reading the post, I'm seeing that events of recent days made me jump to conclusions and somehow think it said stuff that is no-where in it. Sorry about that!

But I'm in agreement with what you really DID say. We tend to have a well tuned sensor for what is "hinky" in reports that we disagree-with, but a not-so-well-tuned sensor when reports reinforce our preconceptions.

I find if I participate in political discussions online at all, what is most productive is to just drop in links to primary sources for the issue at question -- the actual text of the statute, the court opinion that is being criticized, the quote that is controversial with the context of what was said before and after. When people are being disingenuous in dissing the other side, they really hate that.

D.W. Drang said...

Prefer fact over speculation, rumor and opinion.
That's just crazy talk!

Will said...

The primary problem with your stated wishes is that the citizens, for the most part, have not been trained in how to deal with historical information regarding our politics. They have no sense of history at all, both national or world. They haven't been trained in how to think critically. This has been deliberate. The Progressives have been running our schools for at least a century, and working steadily to dumb down the people. I'm unsure if it's possible to fix that at this point. Probably way too late. They can't think logically, because it's a foreign subject to them.

The other problem is that most of the people on the Left have embraced their political thinking as a belief system. No facts or figures need apply when one is thinking from a religious perspective. Combined, this double whammy makes the likelihood of them backing off from their current shrieking mindlessness unlikely. "May you live in interesting times", indeed!

pigpen51 said...

I think Will, that the old axiom of, I can't change you, I can only change me, applies here. You would probably be surprised at the number of those who actually do understand how to think critically and for themselves exist in this country. As well as those who fit this category, and yet chose to attempt to subvert those of the other side over to their way of thinking. That leaves only that small portion who have no sense of history that you describe, or have little to no skills to prepare them to think for themselves. I, unlike so many of my peers on the right, am not pessimistic about the state of our republic and it's people. For it is only because of our people that we exist at all. And it is because of a constitution that was drafted over two centuries ago by men who had foresight that politicians have not, despite their fervent efforts, caused us to fall apart like many experiments before us.

Roberta X said...

"How to implement this...?"

Simple: you do it. Yourself. You don;t wait until Billy and Sue and Fred do it, because they may never.