Essence of Citizenship

Love Sufficient Unto Love

By Jorge D. H. Prosperi 2019

The tenets and essence of Citizenry, Citizenship, of becoming and being a Citizen often cross my mind connected to Diversity and its Threads. If there is a relationship, what is it and more important, it’s essence and relevance?

What is it about the concept of Citizenship that seems to dominate so much of my thinking, feelings and writings? Maybe it’s because upon working through intellectual, philosophical and epistemological constructs, I eventually come back to its simple-complex binding components . . . its essence . . . the noun, the verb, the present and past participles – in word and deed its ever active and passive dynamics. The universal human selflessness of giving and receiving without reciprocity – no strings attached.

LOVE . . . TO LOVE . . . LOVING . . . LOVED

Unequivocal . . . Unadulterated . . . Undeniable . . .
Recognizing, Validating, Embracing the frail human condition Unbinding . . . Selfless . . .
Inalienable in each of us since the beginning and end of time

“Love gives but itself and takes not from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed . . . for love is sufficient unto love.”

These vibrant and majestic words are taken from The Prophet written by Khalil Gibran in 1923. Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) was a Lebanese-American writer, poet, visual artist and philosopher.

I posit that his words provide the interconnectedness of life, truth, relevance and power between Love and Citizenship. It is the realization of this connection that allows us to avoid living isolated, divided – apart – be it nationally, socially, ethnically, culturally, racially, politically, religiously and all other forms of constructed identities and collectives.

Love, to love, loving and being loved are at the central core of our “multi-dimensional consciousness” that all human beings are born with – regardless of times and spaces, superseding beyond measure all other constructed identities.

It’s our awareness of the relentless conscious pursuit of the noun, verb, gerund and past participle that provides our identity of Citizen, Citizenry and Citizenship . . . its value . . . its courage . . . its purity . . . its freedom . . . its advocacy to remain above all else – human – introspectively aware of our humanness.

This is not a temporary state of being but rather a constant choice by way of a constant design of conscious consciousness. It is dynamic, at the very end of each our nerve endings – ever present and interwoven within mind, heart and spirit – always available and on point to activate and make available. Its radar is ever scanning the human condition – the quality of life. There is no turn on-off switch. Its essence – its aura surrounds every human being impacting each Citizen, Citizenry and Citizenship. Ergo, there is no tug of war as it is not a possession, to be hoarded, to be owned.

The calling of love, to love, of being loved substantiates our choices and decisions. Do we dare to strip down . . . undress . . . acknowledge our constructed socio-political- cultural-racial-regional-national-religious collective identities . . . that only serve to divide and keep us from achieving semblances of our humanness? Do we dare to critically examine the predispositions that are inherent when we live within collective silos – isolated and insulated?

Unlike the majority of my friends and colleagues, who were born with the title of American Citizen, upon deciding to become an American citizen, I followed what was called the Naturalization process. Some 50 years ago that meant providing a formal written request, gathering documents that at times were impossible to produce, followed by a study program with specific books and meetings with naturalization officials. The materials spoke of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights and a Citizen’s responsibility to country and fellow Citizens.

I had learned such knowledge before in history classes, but this time it was different. The process seemed to ask me to focus on what it all meant and would mean. I read the founding documents carefully. The rich language washed over me with meaning, purpose and advocacy. Democracy, Equality, Liberty, Quality of Life, Freedom were not mere words but core values not to be taken for granted.

I began to realize that what I was reading was not about only a country, nation, piece of land, but the Human Condition . . . the quality of life itself and as we deemed to live it. The process provided serious attention. I remember upon my mother applying for citizenship that helping her with the language provided yet another review of the founding principles. My mother often smiled as she noticed my advocacy translating not only words but concepts emphasizing, ¡Lo que quiere decir para cada uno – para todos!” (What it means for each of us – for all of us!)

The study sessions were followed by a written test and then a meeting with an interviewer who asked questions about the knowledge learned. It was an intimidating experience, especially for those of us who had not yet lost our accents and spoke without proper conjugations, synonyms or metaphors. Language was always the initial primary wall in front of each immigrant. With diligence, we crossed that border as well, at times learning English better than those who had taught it to us.

Surmise it to say that my mom and I had over-studied and over-prepared. We were actually ready for the Bar Exam and damn proud of our knowledge. Unfortunately, I discovered that adult friends and colleagues born as American citizens lacked knowledge about citizenship, addressing it with casual ignorance regarding its meaning and purpose as to community, responsibilities and advocacies. For many it meant being associated with a political party and/or ideology remaining isolated and insulated from other Citizens. It seemed that they often were walking away from its essence rather than embracing it.

As immigrants, there were some lessons that were not learned in the Naturalization books but were part of the “immigrant backpack” we brought to America. Citizenry to my family meant community – always had. The people we visited north, south, east and west within the state of Michigan and beyond were all fellow human beings binding with Citizenry and Citizenship   and thus providing each of us with the freedom and advocacy to achieve our humanness – without boundaries – from the first to last breath on earth. It was a matter of being part of Mother Earth’s family – a oneness. It lived in every blade of grass, animal and sky above.

It did not matter to my family whether we were visiting a rural, suburban or urban region. While we had migrated originally from a rural to urban reality, each community was part and parcel of a greater community. Santa Teresa, Buenos Aires, New York, North End of Boston, Detroit, Upper Peninsula, Chicago, regardless of highway signs, state flags, zip codes and local athletic teams . . . that noun, verb, present and past participles cut through it all.

Regardless of attire or accent . . . my family saw you and smiled . . . perhaps even beyond your awareness as to the meaning of the smile.

Humanness is what has always connected humans to the greater whole – to community – in highly complex ways. We can and have constructed and marketed vertical isolated identities galore – but when constructs are stripped away by conscious choice and design – to bare truth – it is then that the essence of our being reflects back at us . . . its dignity . . . its integrity . . . its passionate advocacy . . . its legacy as Citizen, Citizenry, Citizenship . . . its essential inalienability . . . its selfless sufficiency unto love itself.

“Awareness – perception with astute conscious knowledge
and acceptance of the other,
beyond tolerance – regardless of difference,
is the first step in actualizing
love . . . to love . . . loving . . . being loved . . .
and in turn authenticating out local, national, global
Citizenry . . . as Citizens . . . embracing our mutual Citizenship . . .
our mutual humaness.”