Russellville youth essay

By Emily Kennedy, Russellville

For the Jane Randolph Jefferson Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen contest

“Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It”

How are our freedoms and responsibilities as good citizens changing?

Freedom, liberty, choice and independence are the fundamentals our country was based on. They are the qualities our forefathers stood for, and they are the qualities we stand for today. Or so we are led to believe. Everyday our government seems to become more influential and controlling. They seem to have the mentality that to have a successful country people need guidance from a higher power. If this is what the government is thinking now, what is the hope for the future generations? The leadership of our country over the decades has led to changes in the attitude and outlook of the citizens and their freedoms.

As our government has changed, so has our society. Concern for others has shifted to concern for yourself. Today, selfishness runs rampant through every street and corner with not a kind word or act of generosity to counteract its destruction. The common mindset that is enacted into our minds at a young age tells us to only worry about yourself, and why care for others when there is nothing to gain? Compassion has been hidden and there’s no one willing to find the key. It older times, hospitality was an everyday occurrence. In this day and age, people felt it necessary to protect themselves from the growing dangers in the world. They put a stop to what used to be common courtesies. I don’t argue that the world holds unseen threats and risks, but what kind of world have we come to when our instinct is suspicion, and those who think different are considered naïve?

Good citizenship is a term that is thrown around when you hear about charities and to those who go above and beyond the usual standards of citizens. The criterion of good citizens, in my opinion, has changed just like the morals of our government and our egotistical society. I think that truly worthy citizens are the citizens that do the little things, the things that don’t make the paper or television. Good citizens don’t believe in doing things to look good. The whole reason behind their deeds is (not) the animosity. Recognition or money doesn’t interest them. I believe good citizens are rare, not because the people of the world are so horrible, but because if they are good citizens through and through, they don’t feel the necessity of such a title.

Freedom and responsibility are two words with many similarities. They are ideas we have grown up with. Freedom means driving your car without needing a chaperone. Responsibility means taking care of your brand new puppy. Most believe these qualities go hand in hand. If you have freedom, you have responsibility. In some ways these things also contradict each other. Freedom sets you free, while responsibility holds you down. Understanding this connection not only means understanding how deal with life, but how to deal with people. I wish the people in our society would use their freedoms, that they usually take for granted, and not be afraid of responsibility so that together we can become a nation that our forefathers would be proud of.

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