In 1920, a booklet was published by a female activist named Emma Guy Cromwell. The booklet was entitled “Citizenship: A Manual For Voters“. I found Cromwell’s definition of citizenship quite accurate: “A citizen is one who has the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of the community, state and nation, and as a duty should equip himself so as to render the best citizenship possible.” The part of her definition I agree with the most is the specification that a citizen has a “duty to equip” themselves.
There are many ways I believe a citizen can be “equipped”. The most important of these, which Cromwell outlines, is the ability to educate oneself about your government. Cromwell states: “The citizen who does not possess some knowledge of his government and its workings will become a prey to the demagogue, or of individuals who are anxious to advance their own interest at the expense of the people.” It was important for women in the beginning of the twentieth century to be informed, because they were fighting for the right to vote, and voting without knowledge undermines the purpose of a government ruled by the people.
I have always believed that as citizens we are provided with so many rights and privileges, and as Cromwell states, it is our duty to give back to our government by informing ourselves and doing what we can to further promote democracy. I think that if you aren’t willing to do something to change a situation, you shouldn’t be allowed to complain about it, and we are lucky to live in a country that provides the right to speak our minds.