From a budding blogger … 50 years ago. Enjoy!
A father told his seven-year-old son he could ride his bike to school. The father explained to his young son that along with the privilege of riding the bike to school he would have to assume some responsibilities. A few of these were: keeping the bike in good condition, keeping it locked, and obeying all the safety rules. The young son then reconsidered riding to school, in view of all the responsibilities he would have to accept.
We as American citizens must accept the fact that we are in the same relative position as the seven-year-old boy. We have many privileges in America. Some of these are freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, the right to assemble, and freedom of the press. Only in the United States and a few other nations of the world do we enjoy all of these freedoms.
Along with the many privileges we enjoy, there are a few basic responsibilities which are essential to a democracy such as the United States. A few of these are voting, paying taxes, and obeying the laws of our nation. These are things which we take for granted, and yet, in our last election only about 65% of the eligible voters voted.
This great nation of ours was not built by people who just paid taxes, voted, and obey laws. The nation was built and has continued to prosper because of responsible citizens.
What is it that makes one a responsible citizen? Truly responsible citizens concern themselves with and are aware of the affairs of their nation. But the responsibility extends beyond concern to participation in those affairs. Not everyone can hold public office, but responsible citizens can and should communicate with elected officials. Responsible citizens must become involved in community and national projects, ranging from town meetings to conserving fuel to picking up litter.
In our nation today we find a mood of despair for the loss of something that was America. Troubles seem overpowering.
Perhaps what troubles America is a lack of responsible citizens. Too many Americans have become residents of a nation, claiming autonomy from the nation which gives them their privileges. But this nation can be strong only when its citizens pay the price for those privileges. The price is responsible participation in the affairs of our nation.
George Bernard Shaw told us: “Liberty means responsibility; that is why most men dread it.” Let us not dread liberty or citizenship. Let us accept our responsibilities to our nation.
I believe I wrote these words circa 1966, when I was nine or 10. I’m cleaning out stuff, getting ready to move. For reasons unknown, I still have the the two pieces of paper. (I very lightly edited the essay.)
Frightening it is that our voting rate in 2016 was 58%. More frightening? Many among us think, somehow, that G-d gave us our freedoms, and that if government went away, we’d be more free! Drop on in to a country without a functioning government, a property rights regime, or public services. Please, report in on how the people there are managing with their G-d given freedom.