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?

 

What Do You Wish People Knew About You?

Suppose you make a new acquaintance at a social gathering. What is the one thing you would like that person to understand about you? Is there some essential bit of information that defines you as a person?

Maybe it is your chosen profession, or a particular hobby you enjoy. Maybe you feel you are defined by your belief on some topic, or your political leanings. Some people seem to think their musical tastes, or the movies they enjoy, is important to understanding who they are.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What makes you you?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What gives a person value?’


Similarly, even people who have known you for a long time may not know the real you. Do you ever feel as if there is a facet of your personality hidden from your friends and family? That there is something you know about yourself that others don’t seem to understand?

If you could control how others saw you, what would you choose to emphasize? What do you wish people knew about you?

Related questions: Why do we care what strangers think of us? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better? How do you think others see you?

Children Or Adults?

Do you prefer the wide-eyed innocence of children? Or maybe the complexity of an adult? Which would you rather spend time with?

Share why if you wish.

Children Or Adults?

Are People Inherently Good?

When you think about other people, do you consider that they are inherently good? That they need to struggle with the forces of the world that would make them behave against their better nature?

Or instead, do people start out as essentially greedy, selfish, and lazy? And if they are lucky or disciplined enough, they can overcome these inherent faults to lead a worthwhile life?


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable podcast, where Michael and Lee discuss the questions ‘How do you define success?’ and ‘Is happiness the most important purpose of life?’


Even if you believe the answer is somewhere in the middle, is it closer to one side or the other?

Does your opinion change on the person or people you are considering? Do friends and family fall into one camp, but strangers in another? What about how you view yourself?

How does time change your answer? Do you think you would have answered this question differently, say, 10 years ago? Is the answer different for children rather than adults?

Finally, what does your answers say about you, and how you view the world?

Related questions: What does it mean to be a good person? How do you judge yourself? To what should we aspire? Who are your role models?

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?