The Basis of Our Existence as Citizens

A Citizen, what is that exactly? The 14th amendment of the constitution defines citizens as:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

So this tells us that we are citizens of a state and of a country. By extension we are citizens of a county and a town or city. Each of these entities have their own autonomy up to a certain point. As we know from taxes and laws, each of these entities of which each of us is a part, have their own vision as to how their citizens are supposed to support and participate in the community.

Even if you do not live in a town or city, all of us live in a county. That is our most basic citizenship. That county is a part, a building block of a state and that state is a part of a country. As a country we are collectively part of a global society.

As citizens we have rights, privileges, protections and responsibilities at every level from local to global. Our American citizenship is the great equalizer. We may be extremely diverse as a people, a microcosm of the whole world with a multitude of cultures, races, beliefs, traditions, orientations and affiliations but the one thing we all share in common, that holds us together as a People, is our citizenship, our identity as citizens of the United States of America. The operative word is united.


Testing, One, Two, Three

OK, (clearing the throat, thumping the mic)
Welcome. I am General John Quincy Public. You may call me simply General Public. I have been in retirement for some years. But I have been keeping my eye on things and, over all, I am not happy with what I am seeing. So here I am, ready to serve. I have an army in reserve and you are a part of it. So it is time to re-up.

If you are a citizen of this great country; The United States of America you have rights and lots of them, but you also have responsibilities. So let’s get that straight right from the gitgo.

President John F Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” For what we are doing here, that is the right attitude.

What can you do for your country? Well, first off you have to figure out what this country is about and why many among us are willing to dedicate their lives to serve this great country. What is it about this country that deserves that kind of fealty? And if you don’t know what fealty means let’s take a look at that word. It started out in medieval Europe and was an oath made by a vassal, or subordinate, to his lord. “Fealty” also referred to the duties incumbent upon a vassal that were owed to the lord, which consisted of service and aid.

Now, while we serve no lord we are expected to serve our country and that means that we serve each other because all of us together are the country, the country of the People. We the People are a collective, we are here to serve our joint purpose, our collective purpose. And that takes a lot of damn work and it takes heart and it takes sacrifice and vision and thoughtfulness and a good many other things.

This country started as an idea that became a revolution that has been spreading around the world ever since. It started with the Decoration of Independence which is basically a justification for severing fealty to England and the crown and stating the beginning ideas of our purpose as a new country. And it ends with these inspiring words…

“…we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Now, of course any time you start something new, you have to start from what you are ready know and at the time what they knew was that landed and well connected white men were who they were and who they were referring to. As far as they were concerned they had not gone so far in their thinking to consider that women, who were non entities in a political sense, as part of who they were planning to give these rights and freedoms to. Nor people of color, and by that I mean wild savages, namely Native Americans and Black slaves which are what these ‘cultured’ white men thought of them as; savages. These white, landed and well connected men were after all, transplanted Europeans and would have been thinking of themselves as such and in relation to such. They were claiming for themselves the God given unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Not in their wildest dreams at the time would their governmental aspirations have taken into account anyone other than themselves. This is not, however a disparagement on them but merely an observation of what they would have considered to be their forward thinking at the time. Let’s face it, you have to start somewhere.

However, once started, ideas must continue. Ideas are bigger and longer lasting than any generation who dreams them up and such ideas grow and expand and deepen through argument and discussion, questioning and practice.

Today most of us consider every human in this country to be deserving of all of the rights and privileges afforded to any landed, well connected white male citizen. But this did not happen overnight nor even over many generations. It could be said that we are still emerging from this original premise.

The basis of our existence as citizens starts with the Constitution of the United States. It starts out like this:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’

Everything after that is pretty much bureaucratic organizational stuff needed to actually start up a government.

To be continued…