Sparks Fly: An American Love Story

What does it mean to be a good citizen in the United States of America?

The Onion-Nov 6, 2012 Statshot

In elementary school, when a teacher asks the class this and perhaps Suzie would respond with “helping others” and maybe Arthur would say “not breaking the law”. Sure, these are both true, but they are agonizingly bland when one considers the all-encompassing dues that being an American is all about but perhaps we take for granted. And that’s a reality that I, after 17+ years of being an American, finally began to grasp through our studies and discussions in government class.

The fact of the matter is that while “helping others” and “not breaking the law” are both respectable starts to being a good citizen, it shouldn’t and doesn’t stop there.

And the last thing I want to do is admit to my own naïveté, but the truth of the matter is that up until this point in my life the closest thing I have to keeping up with world affairs was my meticulous reading of The Onion and my dutiful weekly viewing of Saturday Night Live.

And I saw nothing wrong in this! In fact, it made me almost feel cool to be vacuous of what the horrible footage was that flashed across the news channel my parents watch. I never realized how abysmal I had been at upholding my right to cultivate political awareness. Yet I have the audacity to try to form opinions and ignorantly voice them solely on the grounds of others’ comments or maybe something Stephen Colbert said on his show.

With the answers to billions of questions just a click away thanks to my snazzy 4g iPhone, we still manage to go day in and day out without the slightest regard for our tragically stagnant social consciousness. This dispensation we possess, a vast accessibility of knowledge and means of communication, is too habitually neglected. As eloquently expressed in the TED Talk by Eli Pariser, we Americans choose lighthearted desserts over intellectual vegetables (ironically, this is not only responsible for our lazy minds but our generally poor physical health, but I digress). Too often do we indulge in the desserts of satire and social networking and not in the nutrition of a hearty CNN update; thus we need hold ourselves accountable for the filters applied to us and at fault for the inexorable boxes put our perspectives in with passive citizenship.

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To give myself some credit, the right we enjoy to express dissent from the majority opinion (there is no truer sign of being an American than this) is something we not only value but also strive to do on a daily basis. But I implore you, my fellow Americans, to try browsing the text of our brilliant constitution while in the waiting room of the dentist’s office; I promise you that in this brief exploration you will discover many American-ly entitlements that you haven’t even considered exploiting that you totally should. I’m just kidding (kind of). On a more genuine note, (and much to the derision of my audaciously left brain or the  adolescent subversion I occasionly feel towards my right-wing parents), I have unexpectedly fallen in love with our country and have become completely captivated with our government’s conception. I’ve decided that I want to make an effort into cultivating the relationship I have with the U.S. of A and to try to take charge of my  citizenship. Sure America isn’t perfect, but at the end of the day her intentions are good and I’m in it for the long haul.

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