Too often we as American citizens take a "wait and see" attitude towards events. We go about our daily lives, assuming and hoping that someone else will take care of things - someone in city hall, or the state capital, or in Washington.
Well, we are that "someone else." And we need to take responsibility now.
Here is a list of 11 things you can do to participate immediately as a citizen of the United States. Eleven simple things you can do to build what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called "a greater, a more stable and a more tolerant America."
The ultimate success of our democracy rests upon the individual citizens who make up this great nation.
- Vote. By participating in elections at the local, state and national level, we make our opinions heard.
- Stay informed. An educated American is an empowered citizen.
- Exercise your right to free speech. When we articulately and intelligently state our opinions, popular or not, we truly live up to the hopes and dreams of the Founding Fathers.
- Support American businesses. When we buy products labeled "Made in USA," we are supporting our economy and creating jobs for our fellow citizens.
- Support Americans in need. Our neighbors need us. Donate your time, services or money to those less fortunate than you.
- Use your time meaningfully and wisely. Volunteer. Let's all do what we can to support each other.
- Reread our founding documents. The principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are timeless and essential.
- Look to the past for perspective. Our nation's history is rich with moments when strength and resilience transcended hardship and adversity.
- Teach the next generation. Like anything else, enlightened patriotism comes from education, not ignorance.
- Enjoy and protect America's natural resources. Our democracy deserves a home as beautiful as its ideals.
- Above all else: Bet on good. Believe in America and that, together, we can forge a better future and better ways of doing things.
Passion, reason and courage: these are the lifeblood of American citizenship.
Excerpted from The Handbook for Americans, published by the Harleigh Press.