Volunteer, vote to strengthen citizenry

“Citizen” is a word that’s often used to promote civil service, voting and volunteer work.

Everyone seems to know what it means, yet nobody seems to be able to define it clearly. Merriam-Webster defines a citizen as “a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it.”

The key is the first part. A citizen of any country has a responsibility to fulfill toward that country, which can be fulfilled in several different ways.

It’s easy to go about our daily lives without thinking of this responsibility we own. To be active citizens, we must go beyond our routines in some way to help the community around us that makes us who we are.

In the United States, that community could be your school, your neighborhood, local businesses or organizations or your local government.

To me, participating in community service to benefit any of these entities is what it means to be a citizen.

For the school community, service can include being a school or club leader, organizing an event or tutoring younger students.

All of these actions impact the school community in a positive way and certainly count as citizenship.

In your neighborhood, picking up litter, planting a tree and running errands for the elderly are only some actions that can be considered beneficial service.

To do any of these, one would have to go out of his or her way and in doing so would benefit the community.

Local businesses or organizations can benefit by volunteering time or making donations if the organization is something like a soup kitchen.

Volunteering requires sacrifice of time for the purpose of helping others, and the benefit spreads beyond a particular business or organization to many other community members.

Finally, serving local government can be defined as voting in local elections or actively advocating causes that you or the community believe in.

Democracy is the pillar that supports America, and voting and expressing opinions are necessary actions in a functioning democracy.

Overall, I think a citizen can be defined as someone who specifically goes out of his or her way to benefit the community, whether that be the school community, neighborhood, local businesses or local government.