What will you be when you grow up? What job would you like?
I’m sure you’ve been asked that question many times, or if you haven’t been will be asked that question soon. Your answer might be a doctor, maybe a truck driver, a teacher, a farmer the list is endless. But did you know there is one job you’re going to have that everyone who lives in this country has, and that is the job of being a good citizen
When you study civics and government in your classes you are learning how to become a good citizen. What do good citizens do? First they try to be a good person, and what do we mean by that?
Well it’s helpful if you’re nice, if you’re polite, if your hard-working, if you do good deeds for people who need a little help. Good citizens also obey the law and sometimes even when we don’t like the law.
So for example maybe this morning you would have rather stayed in bed and not come to school but the law tell you that you have to come to school. Good citizens vote. Now you may have gone with your parents to the polling place and actually gone in and watch them cast ballot. Voting is where we pick, we select the people we are going to have represent us. That means they speak for us. And they do this in all levels of government, so you might be voting for a city council person, or the member of a school board and that’s local government.
You might be voting for a member of Minnesota State Legislature and that’s state government, or you could be voting for a member of congress or the president and that’s the federal government.
Good citizens also work to solve public problems, or as I was taught when it grew up, “please be part of the solution, don’t be part of the problem.” Well what is a public problem? For a moment let’s trying talking about what a private problem is. An example of a private problem is maybe your messy bedroom. Now that’s a problem between you and your parents it is not a problem that involves the whole community,so if you are trying to solve that problem you might talk with your parents but you are probably not going to call the whole community in to help you clean your room. That’s a private problem.
Public problems are problems that are shared by the community. And your community could be as small as your neighborhood or school, or as large as the nation or world. Examples of a public problem: maybe you need a stop sign in your community. Maybe you need to do something about the stray pets who are scaring little children as they play in the local park. You might need to clean up dirty rivers and lakes. Those are public problems. They affect a lot of people and the solutions need the help of all of those people.
People work together to solve problems. They are the “We the People” in our form of government. You’ve probably heard of that phrase, “we the people”, it’s the first line in the United States Constitution. Our system of government needs everyone. You can choose a career in government, but you don’t have to. But you also have an important job to do even if you don’t, it is the job of citizens. So get informed and get involved.