Now that the chaotic carnival ride of impeachment is over, we can all go back to being calm, rational Americans who are united in our values, priorities, and patriotic love for this great nation.
Yes, sometimes the cynicism just writes itself.
In any case, this era of disunity is not ending soon, if ever. But rather than wallow in depression or drive up our collective blood pressure by enumerating the hypocrisy, cowardice, and outright idiocy of the modern conservative movement, let’s look at a less contentious subject.
Let’s discuss citizenship.
Oh shit, that’s a hot one too, isn’t it?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that I am not talking about immigration, undocumented residents, the 14th Amendment, Border Patrol atrocities, or xenophobia.
Hey, I’ve talked a lot about all of those things, and I will again. Good times!
But right now I want to draw your attention to a recent article written by Seth Godin, marketing guru and philosophical entrepreneur.
Godin writes the following:
“Citizens aren’t profit-seeking agents who are simply constrained by rules. Citizens behave even if there isn’t a rule about it.
“Citizens aren’t craven partisans, voting for party over fact. Citizens do the right thing because they can, even if the short-term cost is high.
“Citizens live by the rule of community: If everyone did what I’m about to do, would it lead to a useful outcome?”
Clearly, Godin is not talking about what defines a citizen legally. He’s trying to grasp the concept of good citizenship. It requires more than being born within an arbitrary border. It requires engagement, bravery, and a concern for the future.
Yes, much of what Godin is saying can be applied to congressional Republicans (especially that “craven partisan” part).
However, the main point is that, in certain respects, we’ve been asking the wrong question.
It should not be, “Who gets to be a citizen?”
It should be, “Who will be a good citizen?”
Godin’s traits of a good citizen are not exclusive of other definitions, nor are they the final word on the concept. However, the list he provides is pretty damn solid.
We can all be good citizens—not just of America but of Earth—if we focus on the long-term health of our community.
This concept applies to climate change, where we must be willing to accept lifestyle changes so that we don’t, you know, bake the planet into oblivion.
This applies to corporate responsibility, where CEOs don’t screw over their workers and cause lasting economic damage just to make their bonus a little bigger.
This applies to racial demographics, where white people have to acknowledge that the country is diversifying and, rather than fight the inevitable, embrace the benefits that different perspectives bring.
And yes, this applies to politics, where certain individuals shouldn’t kowtow to insanity just to preserve their cushy jobs.
Well, I guess it’s a bit late for that last one. But the basic message remains the same:
Don’t be a selfish jerk.
We’ll let Godin summarize this ideal:
“Sometimes we call citizens heroes, which is a shame, because their actions should be commonplace, not rare. Every successful community, every organization, every family has citizens. It’s the citizens who define the future, because their commitment to the long-term matters.”