This New Year day in 2017, I wish you all a most blessed and wonderful new year. May this year be a year of love, peace, connection and community for us all. May this year be the year we choose well each and every day.
During this contentious political year, there has been a lot of anger and frustration directed towards our leaders. I would like to comment on the responsibilities of a citizen in the United States.
Although it is true that our leaders must be held to the highest standards, likewise, the citizens of our country have jobs to do. Some of the core reasons that we find ourselves in this situation right now is that citizens, for far too long, have taken our country for granted. They have chosen to neglect their responsibilities in a democracy. They have been taught to let “them” do it instead of being a participant in our system. That common attitude and behavior is fatal to a democracy.
A democracy cannot stand without two things:
First, a free and open press.
Secondly, a participatory citizenship.
I want to outline some responsibilities of every citizen in our democracy:
-Participate in the democratic process (yes, this means YOU, not your neighbors, not “them”)
-Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws
-Respect the rights, beliefs, opinions of others
-Participate in your local community
-Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities
-Serve on a jury when called upon
-Defend the country if the need should arise
I want you to honestly look at each of these responsibilities of a citizen and determine if your participation meets even the basic level of citizenship. If it is not, let this be the year that you stop screaming at your television and start creating news yourself. If it does not, let 2017 be the year that you get up off the couch, turn off your media, and go to a meeting in your local community. Let this be the year there you fulfill your responsibilities as a citizen to this great country.
In the coming months you will be called upon to do things you never thought you would do. Write letters. Call esteemed individuals to share your opinion. March. Protest. Be heard. Go to events as requested. Make time for your citizenship. Some of you will be afraid. Do not let this fear keep you from action. Right now, courage is required of every single American. Some of you will wonder if your voice counts, if your being there counts. Let me tell you now, and let it ring in your ears no matter what, “Your showing up counts.” As we embark upon this new year, let this be the year you coordinate with your friends and neighbors, creating a wall of love, a wall of action, a wall of peace, which propels our nation to newer and better heights.
On this New Year’s day, write down your answer to each of the items noted above. At the end of the year let’s circle around and see if your participation in this democracy has increased.
For our great American experiment can only survive if the citizens are willing to do what it takes to keep this country and make this the best year ever.
K. Sennholz MD
Voices of Millions