Citizenship is defined as the state of being vested with rights, privileges and duties as a member of society. Being part of a society or community affects an individual as much as the individual affects the community. The rights and privileges that come with being a part of the community come with duties and responsibilities to the community. Good citizenship will positively affect your surroundings.
Citizenship is a combination of character traits resulting from being actively aware of your community and your effect on it. It is actively putting into action all the character traits we value. Looking at our world, country, community, home and our place in it and being a positive force upon it. Being a good citizen is bringing the traits of Responsibility, Respectfulness, Kindness, Fairness, Honesty, Diligence, Trustworthiness, Courage, Integrity, Generosity and Gratitude into all our thoughts and actions as we interact in and about our community.
Why does good citizenship matter? By being aware of our actions in our communities we create a climate of respect for ourselves and for others, which in turn encourages order, higher achievement and better interpersonal relationships. Good citizenship means thinking about more than just yourself. Treating others as we wish ourselves to be treated. This practice makes communicating with others and understanding situations easier and more productive. Without a sense of belonging to a community there is a lack of incentive to be aware of and act positively toward the needs of the community. This results in an environment that fosters a lack of care, kindness and order.
Practicing good citizenship can take many forms – both big and small. Good citizenship can be practiced through big gestures, seeing a need and actively working to create a positive change to improve concerns or problems. Good citizenship can also be expressed in small gestures. These gestures, while small, add up to create and maintain a positive environment. Small acts of good citizenship can be as simple as picking up a piece of litter off the ground, saying “please” and “thank you”, and respecting the rules of the places we are in.
The practice of good citizenship is more than just individual actions or words but is a lens through which we view the community and our place with in it. This perspective influences all our actions and interactions and how we feel about those actions and interactions. By making choices that are influenced by being a good citizen and caring about our communities, we create communities in which we are proud of and happy to be a part of.
It is through actively participating in the world around us that we create a positive impact. If as an individual in a community we practice good citizenship, then the community as a whole will see a positive improvement. The positive actions brought about by a sense of citizenship help bring us together as a community and encourage us to improve our communities and ourselves.
Kimberly LiVecchi is committee member for the West Plains chapter of PACE. She works in marketing and business development.