Normally, I try not to should on people, but this time I’m going to should big, right here at the beginning of this short article. Here goes, with emphasis:
You should be an
At a time when governments are misbehaving in countless ways, when the giant media outlets offer few means to understand anything, and when so many people have flocked to only one of two sides of so many important complex issues that the issues have become meaningless and the victory of one side or the other has become the only thing capturing their attention, what are our options?
- Take one of two sides and complain about the other.
- Complain about everyone.
- Ignore what we can’t change.
- Like, live and let live, man, you know.
- Get all cynical and bitter.
- Churn out widgets.
Are there other choices?
I’m experimenting with the role of Citizen. I used to call my role in the neighborhood, Neighbor, and I’d ask, What does it mean to be a great Neighbor? But as I talked to more neighbors and school kids and cops and merchants about problems, and as I started organizing meetings to try to solve them, I changed the name of my role to Community Leader. Perhaps my shyness of pompous titles or my cautiousness to be associated with government kept me from the obvious, but darn it, I’m a Citizen! More accurately, I’m an Active Citizen, and I think you should be one too.
First of all, it’s much easier than you think. It just means reversing entropy. That’s all. Instead of letting everything around you fall into chaos, try making a little order somewhere. Pick something that is worth changing for the better, something you think you might be able to change, and change it. Pause and reflect. Make a plan. Do it, and see how it goes.
Theoretical Physicist and Author, Michio Kaku, in a recent interview with Michael Krasney, explained that, while the Law of Entropy states that everything is moving towards chaos, on Earth things grow. In fact, we have the most complex, organized living system anywhere within four lightyears. Entropy is reversed on Earth because we have a source of energy– the sun. He put it simply:
“As long as you have external energy coming in, you can reverse chaos.”†
So, put some energy into the system.
Second, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are already lots of people reversing chaos in your community, many of whom would love your help. For many situations it’s, plug and play. You can be an Active Citizen once a week or once a month by just showing up.
Finally, it’s the right thing to do. As citizens of nation states, our governments grant us certain rights by their laws. The debate over those rights is a vital part of a free society, and thank goodness, I live in one of those. What isn’t laid out very clearly are our responsibilities. Voting once every four years seems like the bare minimum. (Some people feel it gives them the right to complain.) Consider the Active Citizens who, like myriad little suns, are out there trying to make life better for the rest of us. Why do they take that responsibility? I’m sure glad they do, but we owe them a lot!
If you agree, I’d like to run an experiment with you. In the comments below, please answer any or all of these four questions with specific examples:
- As an Active Citizen, what are the responsibilities you are willing to take?
- Do you know someone personally who is a great Active Citizen?
- What do they do to be a great Active Citizen?
- What can the rest of us do to help?
†DISCLAIMER: I appropriated a complex idea from physics to try to spark some inspiration. I admit that I do not understand physics or if the quotation has anything to do with the topic on which I have just written. (Boy, do I wish more people who do the former would also do the latter.)