What Makes A Good Citizen?

Most people want to be a good citizen of the place where they live: their city, state, country, or world. But what, exactly, does that mean?

A good citizen must contribute, in a positive way, to the community in which they live. That positive contribution might take the form of supporting the other community members, by building something others can use, or perhaps providing a necessary service.

But is that enough? There may be instances where an individual does a job that is necessary for others in the community to thrive. But at the same time, he or she might undermine some segments of that society, through racism, or some other bias.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘Are we too busy?’


One can easily imagine how self-interest might come into conflict with community service. Ideally, the benefit of the individual and the group would be aligned. However, that won’t always be the case. In fact, the two may inevitably be in conflict, as an individual may have to sacrifice certain opportunities for personal growth for a larger societal good.

What are the attributes that you think make for a good member of a society? Community service? Voting in elections? Checking on your neighbors? Living in the same place for a long time? Owning a small business? Paying taxes? What other examples can you think of?

What make a good citizen? Do you think you are a good citizen?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a community? Did you vote? Individual or society?

 

Who Is In Your Credits Reel?

Do you have an important project, favorite pastime, or significant period of your life? Of course you do; everyone does. Now, imagine it as a movie. Since this movie features you, you decide to stick around through the credits reel. Who would make the post-movie scroll of names?

For example, perhaps you trained for and ran a marathon. Who trained with you for the event? Was it just you? Did a few friends join you? Or did you run with a running club? Did someone coach you or the group? These people definitely fit in the cast.

The people who supported you in your training are also important. Some, most certainly, also fit in the cast. But some belong to the movie’s crew. Who provided you with weekly mileage and running time advice? If you ran with a club, a trained group leader likely filled this role. If it was just you or you and some friends, maybe you followed a book’s advice. Who was the author?


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss the question: ‘How do you show thanks?’ as well as a bonus question, ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’


On a more personal level, did your spouse or roommates take care of many of the household chores during the time you spent training? On a grander scale, do you know who staffed the race’s starting or finish line roles? Who took care of the water stops?

In addition, let’s assume you are even interested in some of the smaller roles. Movies often credit caterers. Did your neighborhood deli sell you an awesome sandwich to replenish your carbs and protein after each of your long training runs? Now, on to the movie’s soundtrack. On your solo training runs did you listen to a favorite playlist?

Of course, running a marathon is not the only potential “movie” in your life. Did friends help you with a major house renovation? Did doctors, a therapist, friends, and neighbors ever help you through a terrible illness? Each one could have it’s own movie, and therefore it’s own credits reel.

A credits reel is a decent metaphor to help you classify, name, and show gratitude for who helped you as you worked on finishing a project, improving in your hobby, or helping you accomplish or make it through an important period of your life.

So have at it. Think of a movie about you you’d like to watch. Who is in your credits reel?

Related questions: How do you show thanks? What are you grateful for? Who is your MVP for the year? Who would you like to give a shut out to right now?

What Role Should Government Play In Our Lives?

We pay taxes — income, property, sales — to the government. We vote for the people who hold public office at the local, state, and federal levels. What, then, should we expect in return?

In some circles, government is seen as a bad thing. However, it must play some part in our lives.

For example, perhaps that role is to protect us from other countries and threats across the world. A strong military would perform that task.

Maybe, though, the government can keep us safe from other dangers besides bad actors around the world. The current pandemic is an example. A strong state or federal entity can coordinate efforts that individuals, or even powerful companies, might not be able, or motivated, to do.

Does that also extend to other threats? Climate change? Dirty food or water? Guns?


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where we discuss the questions ‘Where does authority come from?’ and ‘What does your favorite music say about you?’


Whenever disputes between individuals arise, there needs to be some intermediate to resolve them. The legislative system serves as a way to codify this, and the courts allow for interpretations of those laws. Is this a valid governmental role?

There are many other tasks that the government oversees: education, land governance, roads and bridges, libraries, postal service, and on and on. Are there areas that the government currently manages that they shouldn’t, in your opinion? Conversely, are there roles it should have, but currently doesn’t?

If you like the government or not, it is true that in a democracy the government is a manifestation of the will of the people. In your mind, what do you want our civic institutions to do? What role should the government play in our lives?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? Where does authority come from? What role does technology play in your life? How much power does an individual have?

How Do We Come Together?

In our current society, there are a number of factors that have divided us into different camps. How do we reverse that and come together?

There are many reasons why we look at our fellow human beings with increased distrust.

Politicians use fear and distrust of others to motive their constituents. When news outlets promote conflict, they are rewarded with increased viewership, more clicks, or a higher circulation. As more families fall into or toward poverty, they fight desperately for livelihoods.

And yet, most significant advancements have been made when we work together as a society. Advancing life spans, reduction of widespread disease, better understanding of the world around us — these things are all made possible through cooperation.

It’s not realistic to expect that everyone will agree on all, or even most, issues. But how can we disagree, yet still make progress?

Can we somehow look at our economic, political, religious rivals and somehow see our similarities rather than our differences? How do we come together after being driven so far apart? Particularly when physically coming together is limited due to the global pandemic?

Related questions: Why are we so antagonistic? How can we encourage debate? How do you know who to trust? Is our attention fractured? Division or unity?