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Thoughts on civic duty ... 
5th-Nov-2008 09:44 pm
land
lifted from a comment in another LJ  journal

A US military veteran on my flist asked what his readers have done to protect and defend their rights.  Behind the cut is my response.  

Yeah, I'm wordy.  I get that way easily, let alone when I'm passionate.  But I don't regret a word.


By the time women were allowed to serve in the way you mention, I was too old. However, I won't deny that I would not have volunteered. I'm really not the military type. On the other hand, I think that if we have a military service expectation on any one (SS registration, anyone?) we should have it on everyone. Period. Like Israel. I would have submitted to such regulation myself -- and advocated for it when I was a candidate for such service.

Still, I have done things. I put a lot of effort into staying an informed voter, and I do so by looking at many sources of information, not just the ones I find easy to agree with. I research further anything I don't understand well enough to vote on. I have only missed two chances to vote since I cast my first vote as a member of the 18-year-old voting class in 1972. Both were primaries. (I am an independent.)

I have worked as an election judge or poll worker more than once in two states. I have canvassed for things I feel strongly about. I have given my money to causes I endorsed.

I have been open to discussion with fellow citizens, both those who agree and those who disagree with me. I believe I have done so with candor, respect and with open ears. At least I have tried. I have often played devil's advocate to explain how anyone might disagree with us when I am talking to those who agree with me.

I pay my taxes, and while I may or may not agree with the taxation rate and/or a specific use of tax money, I do this because I am obligated to pay my way in the use of public resources we *all* use in one way or another. While I do not do so joyfully, I do so willingly and proudly. I am not being political, but patriotic, when I confess I was offended by my president and some 2008 candidates making jokes of this particular civic duty.

Veteran's causes are on my regular charity donation list. When the current administration cut the part of military spending that supported the families of deployed troops and helped returning veterans, I donated additional monies.

It is my belief that any American can do some or all of the above. They are not as fraught with potential danger as military service, although we should never forget that people have lost lives doing the above -- James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner stay in my mind. Dangerous or not, these are important and valuable contributions.

I have done other things, some of them fraught with personal danger, if not life-threatening danger, but very few American citizens are ever put in the positions I was in when I did them, so I won't count them. Except for one of the not dangerous ones:

I have read the Constitution. Many, many times. I have read analyses from constitutional scholars from different political viewpoints. I have studied other democratic constitutions in other countries, and came to a better understanding of ours through comparison.

I cut my fellow citizens some slack on this one. I enjoy constitutional law and political philosophy. I enjoy intellectual study. This one is easy for me. That doesn't make it insignificant, but it is not a sacrifice for me in any sense.

I really do attempt to walk what I talk.


Many of my fellow citizens do not have my advantages to do much of what I do.  My job hours are flexible, my finances are generally comfortable (with tight spots now and then).  I do not have children and the related responsibilities and time sinks.  I was given some gifts that made acquiring the skills for some of what I do not only possible but relatively easy.  This is not to say I have not worked, and worked hard, to get where I am.  It is to acknowledge that some of us can give more than others.  That's how societies work -- and one of the reasons we form them.

Just imagine , though, if *every* citizen did just one of the above -- and if *every* eligible voter voted. What a country!

Comments 
6th-Nov-2008 05:41 am (UTC) - Well said
Not everyone is suited to military service. For those that have, and do, serve: thanks. For the rest, there are many other ways to serve and I thank you for that as well.

I also agree that, if every eligible citizen were to cast an informed vote in every election, it would be fantastic.
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