My Turn: Be a civic-minded citizen

For the Monitor
Published: 2/13/2022 9:02:09 AM
Modified: 2/13/2022 9:00:15 AM

Civics is the study of the rights and obligations of citizens in society. Civic-minded individuals are proactive citizens willing to plug into and engage in the world around them. Our society thrives when people are committed to serving the greater good and are willing to fulfill their obligations as a citizen.

Unfortunately, too many of us are falling short in this duty. Life is extremely stressful. Even as a high school student I am buried in school, homework, chores or much-needed exercise just to keep sane. It’s easy to become overwhelmed just trying to keep up with our basic needs. As a result, our communities can suffer from our lack of involvement.

It’s important not to allow our stress to consume us. When our focus becomes too narrow and the immediate demands pressing upon us feel all-consuming, we start to suffocate. We lose sight of anything outside of our immediate attention. Being busy and stressed can seem like a good excuse for us to avoid getting civically involved. What we often find, however, is that our world becomes too small, leaving us vulnerable to loneliness and negativity.

In order to preserve our civil liberties and maintain our lifestyles in accordance with our beliefs and ideals, we first need to re-engage ourselves to serve the greater good. When we do, we find there is nothing quite as satisfying as being an engaged citizen. Civic engagement unearths a noble quality within ourselves because it allows us to serve in a manner that goes beyond our own basic survival.

I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who do not always rely on this excuse. For example, my great-grandmother did Meals on Wheels until she was in her nineties. She put others before herself and I aspire to be like her.

Similarly, my grandmother donates her time and efforts to seniors in her community who need help or just a friend. I have always been impressed with the grace and charity my family gives to the people around them. I am lucky they cared enough to go beyond any excuses to not get involved. I loved watching these strong women help shape their communities for the better.

They have inspired me as I have tried taking these lessons into my own life. I like to help out with the Pajama Program where we donate pajamas and books to children in need. I also enjoy teaching my peers and the younger generation about civics.

Life is stressful and often feels overwhelming. It is important that this reality does not prevent us from being civically engaged in our community. Civic engagement can come in many forms and we can work it into our daily lives with just a little bit of thought and intention.

Like the examples I gave, it can be a direct service to the others around us or becoming involved in your local government, serving jury duty, or even voting in our national and local elections. Civics opportunities are all around us, we need to make sure that we are not putting it on the back burner.

We need to fix this. Civics is vital for our communities, our state and our country to be able to properly function. It brings the population together. We find unity and understanding of one another with civics. Coming together as a community with the goal of service to each other fosters a better quality of life for everyone.

Therefore I would like to challenge all of us, myself included, to become civic-minded citizens. Make giving back a priority.

(Kaitlin Rocca is a senior at Exeter High School. She serves as a student representative on the New Hampshire Civic Learning Coalition and achieved her Girl Scout Gold Award through promoting civics in her community. To watch videos about the importance of civics visit sincerelykaitlin.com.)




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