The meaning of Citizenship supersedes casual awareness that can be taken easily for granted. Citizenship goes beyond being born in a country, naturalization, rights, privileges and allegiance. Its meaning is one of the most significant reasons why education is required and why life-long learning is encouraged. Its ethos is literacy connected and determines the quality of our lives. It is our protection for the respect and validation of life itself. Yes, citizenship goes far beyond any civic’s class and political party.
Its meaning is determined by each of us as we see ourselves and each other. Do we think of ourselves as citizens of a region of the country, a state or do we, as human beings, see ourselves as citizens of a world beyond flags and borders. We can do both without compromising our oath to our country and to each other as Americans. This is why, when needed, we take up arms to defend others far from our borders – to defend their humanity.
Citizenship is not only learned in schools but also by lessons taught by ancestors, family, mentors who teach the universality of its meaning – its connections to next door neighbors and those across town, states and across oceans. Citizenship comes with the responsibility to seek veracity and credibility socially, culturally and politically in our institutions and pursue the truth as fellow citizens.
Citizenship is not static but dynamic based on an ongoing critical review of history, its association to democracy, social justice, rule of law, inclusivity, equity and the inalienable rights declared and affirmed by the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Citizenship is ever morphing including segments of society – fellow citizens that have been made invisible and/or voiceless.
With each incoming generation, Citizenship advocates for the authentication and amplification of civil norms and principles as they pertain to collaborations and responsibilities to enhance the quality of life of all current and future citizens. Citizenship encourages civil discourse and debate in order to arrive at compromise and concensus for the greater good.
Citizenship provides an empathic voice to those who immigrate seeking asylum, sanctuary, protections and opportunities of worth. Citizenship is magnanimous and directly connected and intertwined in our Democracy by our venerated right to vote and by making voting available to others. Citizenship is worthy of our daily awareness and recognition of its essence.
The multifaceted complex problems we face in the 21st century are unequivocally stark and real.
The polls focus on “The Economy, Gas Prices and Taxes” – as if each had no history and context.
Our ballot requires due diligence – voting with knowledge, intelligence, advocacy and moral clarity. We know what can happen when voting with ignorance.
Lest we forget:
~ Tax Cuts for the rich and corporations did not just happen in 2017 but began in 2016.
~ Denial, misinformation, politicization and polarization about the pandemic did not just begin in 2020 but began in 2016.
~ Overturning Roe vs. Wade did not just happen in 2022 but began in 2016.
~ The insurrection on our Capitol did not just happen on January 6, 2021 but began in 2016.
~ Some 30,573 (and counting) misleading claims and Big Lies did not just happen in 2023 but began in 2016.
How venerated and sacred is our vote – whether it be for Mayor, School Board, Police Chief or President?
Does the vote itself carry an oath regarding our citizenship – its ethos and meaning?
How honorable is our vote?
Does it carry the tenets of honesty, credibility and trust?
Does it stand for the vision, mission and guiding principles of our Democacy, Constitution, Rule of Law, Justice and respect for inalienable rights?
Does it go far beyond one individual and one political party?
If not, then why even vote at all?
Why not just stay home and get out of the way of those who want to live in the reality of the 21st century – yes living and working pro-actively together to solve serious global challenges, issues and problems that can be solved.
“Words like ‘freedom,’ ‘justice,’ ‘democracy’ are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.”
Why the hesitation by white people to engage with white people in difficult and uncomfortable discourse on racism and hate?
Some would argue that the reasons are due to the “teflon effect”, “cognitive dissonance”, “white fragility”, “fear” and a lack of knowledge.
“White on White” conversations can become contentious, uncomfortable and question social-cultural loyalties.
But we are in the 21st century and “White on White” conversations are taking place by choice, with emotional intelligence and moral courage.
Inclusive generational alliances are in motion and a reality.
It was 1869 when African American men were allowed to vote.
It was 1929 when women were finally acknowledged as voters.
It was 1965, just 58 years ago, when the Voting Rights Act attempted to end voting discrimination.
It’s the 21st Century and voter suppression remains a reality by politicians who promote obstruction, denialism, division, Big-Little Lies and extremism.
A democracy requires citizens who vote keeping in mind our history, casting their ballot with due diligence, emotional intelligence and moral courage.
Civic duty, in the 21st century, requires risk management as to authenticity, credibility and trust.
Who are the candidates that will enhance the quality of our Democracy and the quality of our lives?
The Zulu greeting of “Sawubona” means “I see you.”
These are more than words of politeness.
Sawubona carries the importance of recognizing the worth and dignity of each person.
It says, “I see the whole of you—your experiences, your passions, your pain, your strengths and weaknesses, and your future. You are valuable to me.”
Sawubona is also infused with the belief that when others “see” me, then I exist.
The common response is “Shiboka”, which means “I exist for you”.
These are more than greetings.
Awareness and observation go far beyond looking and seeing – a matter of validating presence.