This Veteran’s Day, as I watch Band of Brothers and Civil War documentaries on the History Channel, I am reflecting upon why so many fought and died for our freedoms, and I believe that the reason is closely related to our school’s monthly core value theme, citizenship. This week my students appropriately defined citizenship as thinking about the larger society, doing good for others, cooperating, and honoring responsibility. They have inspired me to write, and I am writing to clearly express the need for these ideals in society and on the Internet.
As for the Internet, some scholars over the past decade have defined these responsibilities as digital citizenship, but because citizenship is nothing new I hesitate in using their definitions. I do see their need in discussing how one should conduct herself while connected to the web, but I don’t think it should be defined as digital citizenship. I say this because I believe that a person should conduct herself the same in person as on line; and therefore, citizenship as defined by my students should be valued as what is good for the community, county, state, and country in which we live as well as through online endeavors that connect us to even more far away places or simply social networks in cyberspace.
A citizen has responsibilities to do good for a larger community. The larger community will only thrive when that good propels from one individual to another. There are core common belief systems that everyone logically agrees with. These stretch beyond religion and culture, and they are easily agreed upon in democratic institutions. These values are what makes us more of an 80-20 society and less of a 50-50 society. Yes, we (USA) most recently voted equally, but we believe more absolutely about most topics because we know our system works, it is of value, and it is worth fighting for. Many have done so in the past, and many have died for our freedom. Let’s not forget that as we respectfully move forward with making better decisions that improve society and how we live in it.