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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Responsibilities of Citizenship

In our chapters on citizenship and civic culture, we emphasize responsibilities. ABC journalist Jeffrey Kofman, a native of Canada, recently became an American and addressed this point to fellow newly-naturalized citizens:

But let me remind you on this important day, that the privileges we have just earned come with responsibility.

• You can now vote. Freedom in this country means you don’t have to. But having worked this hard to become an American citizen, I believe it would be a terrible waste to suddenly take it for granted. And so I challenge all of you to vote in every election you are eligible. Whether it is city, state or federal. I am not going to tell you who to vote for, which party to vote for. That is for you to decide. But do your homework. Do your duty.

• With Freedom Comes yet another responsibility and now that you are American citizens you have a special duty to remember it. You know that it is the laws of the land that make it possible for all of us live in harmony. There is no excuse for breaking those laws or pushing the boundaries to get ahead.

• And there’s one more aspect of Freedom that I want to emphasize because it worries me in this country. Please, remember that your freedom and mine are only valuable if they respect the freedom of others. I worry that, especially when it comes to politics, people have stopped listening to different opinions, stopped respecting the right to different opinions. Whatever your political views, your religious views, your views on the President, the wars overseas, abortion, gays in the military, please remember that Freedom requires that we listen to each other, respect each other and seek common ground that reflects the intentions of the Founding Fathers of this country. Now that you and I are American citizens, we too can work to respect the Freedom of all Americans and the right to Freedom of all people on this earth.