Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A New Old Citizenship

When I attended McKnight Middle School in Renton back in the early 1980's, my report card gave other grades besides performance. One of those other grades was "citizenship." I wasn't exactly sure what that meant and how one teacher who saw me for a few hours per week (and worked hard to keep me occupied and learning) could observe my life as a citizen, let alone give me a grade. I think even the most self-aware of my classmates could attach this grade to behavior rather than performance. After leaving McKnight, I never saw this grade for citizenship again.

I once had very high and positive expectations for President Obama--though I wouldn't go so far as to call it "hope." Though I've always had interest and passion about politics, I never held an illusion that politics and politicians were a place to invest the energy of hope. For me, party politics has sunk to a new low. I've haven't taken well to the two-party system in the United States since my college days, and the actions of Democrats and Republicans in my adult life have not inspired me to draw any closer to political life outside of being an educated voter. It's hard to advocate for misguided or power hungry leadership.

However, I am still a citizen of the State of Washington and the United States. I am not required to support a political party to be a citizen. To be a good citizen, I can participate in public life, independent of decisions of Republicans and Democrats--to make lives better for my family and other people. Ideology does not come in to play. Democrats or Republicans will not prevent me from volunteering at my daughter's school. I volunteered at my daughter's elementary school last Friday for the first time, and I had an awakening to the meaning of citizenship. I realized that my energy toward Republicans and Democrats was misplaced for all of these years. My energy will be placed toward being a good citizen.

More on this topic later--but today I had to make a proclamation of a personal investment in a new old citizenship.

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