Citizenship is a subject that can be viewed from a variety of angles. Most people understand citizenship as satisfying any of the legal requirements that qualify one to be termed as a legitimate citizen of a certain country. Thus, this perspective uses the criteria of defining citizenship in terms of the nationality of an individual in relation to a certain country.
However, the question of what citizenship is can be viewed in broader terms. This involves evaluating the kind of traits that an individual must have so as to be classified as being a good citizen. This perspective of viewing citizenship in terms of personal traits is better than that of evaluating citizenship in terms of nationality. This is because some individuals acquire a country’s citizenship by meeting the requirements of the law but fail to portray the qualities of a decent citizen in their respective countries. Therefore, the issue of what being a citizen entails should be addressed by identifying the various characteristics that individuals should have to be properly termed as citizens.
One characteristic that a good citizen should have is that he/she should be honest. A dutiful citizen should apply honesty in a variety of aspects. This involves refusing to be involved in corrupt or illegal dealings. It also involves being honest while relating to other people when either at work, at home or in any other place that an individual interacts with the society.
A good citizen should also be able to obey the country’s law to the letter. He/she should ensure that all his/her actions conform to the laid down regulations of the land. Obeying the laid down laws of the land will greatly involve respect of authority systems existing in the land.
Another positive trait that a decent citizen must have is that he/she should contribute actively to his community and the whole society in general. A good citizen should be actively involved into events that contribute positively to the society. These activities may involve contributing to charitable events and funding community development projects. He or she should portray a good example to his/her peers as well as those who look up to him/her. A model citizen should always initiate and engage in projects such as environmental conservation projects and community awareness programs.
Model citizens should also love their countries. They should always feel proud of their countries even in times of turmoil or unrest. They should always strive to improve the situation in the country even when the economic situation is defective or whenever conditions existing within the country are not very impressive.
Good citizens should also be able to co-exist with people from other nationalities, races or tribes peacefully. Model citizens should treat people who may be different from them, equally and fairly. He/she should always motivate his fellow cosmopolitan people to work together to achieve progress and development within his country. Good citizenship also involves fighting for people’s rights despite the variations in tribe, race of nationality. A model citizen should always strive to serve others before himself/herself.
Good citizens could borrow a quote from Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography that states “do good to your friends to keep them, to your enemies to win them”. Individuals who live by this quote will at all times be good citizens to their fellow countrymen as they will never act in a manner like to cause conflict (Glassman and Osephson).
The above examples of good traits help us to understand that citizenship does not only involve the mere existence in a particular country, but also acting in a manner that portrays the quality of a good citizen.