Over the last few decades, there has been an enormous amount of verbiage on the subject of citizenship, specifically, what citizenship might mean in a country such as ours. Some bewail the loss of “social capital” that previous generations took for granted. Their solution: start joining things again. Others equate citizenship with “sacrifice” and bewail the alleged egocentricity of Americans. Suffice it to say, whenever you hear someone preaching sacrifice, someone else is usually nearby collecting sacrificial offerings. Suffice it also to say that those who call for “unity” usually mean getting behind their particular program and view of things. And yet others have equated “true citizenship” with dissent or with mere acceptance of benefits.
All these points of view have some validity. But all miss a simple fact: we are simply citizens of a nation-state or even an empire, we are citizens of a civilization. And citizenship may be best defined as full participation in that civilization.
This begins a series blog posts, also listed as pages, on citizenship as it relates to issues not normally thought of in this context. Yes, it would be better if more of us joined the Kiwanis or did community service or joined the Navy. But this isn’t the real issue.
Which is…How shall we live, publicly and privately, as Americans of the 21st Century?
The first posting is about obesity as a matter of citizenship. The second is about debt. The third is about drugs, particularly psychoactive drugs. There are two essays on Russia that deal with contemporary foreign policy and the citizen’s right to seek happiness in the public arena: these essays deal with national self-respect and personal resistance. The concluding essay deals with war and debt, the two major issues facing America today.
Something I have not drawn attention to in these essays is my concern with what it means to be a woman and a citizen: until very recently, for all of human history, those words were simply mutually exclusive. When women were citizens, it was for no more than paying taxes and transmitting citizenship to their sons, not for participating in the public world. That has begun and will continue to change. Future essays here will examine that subject; until then, the reader may wish to read my essay Into Time: Women and the Profession of Arms for some thinking on the subject.