Originally written April 6, 2007, but it needs to be said again (and again, and again):
When I was a Boy Scout, I remember studying hard day after day to earn a Merit Badge I wanted badly; my Citizenship Merit Badge. To me, it meant that I not only understood how my community, state and nation worked, but I knew exactly where I fit in and what was expected of me. Earning that badge was one of the proudest moments of my youth.
Later in school I learned even more about citizenship, but never anywhere, either in the Scouts or school, did I ever study "residency".
What exactly is the difference between a resident and a citizen? Here's Webster Online's definition of each:
1: a) living in a place for some length of time. b) serving in a regular or full-time capacity ; also : being in
1: An inhabitant of a city or town; especially : one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman
2: a) a member of a state b) a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it
3: a civilian as distinguished from a specialized servant of the state
One thing I've noticed over the years is that there are more and more residents and less citizens. Why is this? A resident is just someone who lives in a city or town for a period of time. Squatters and long term illegals can be considered "residents" but in my opinion they are NOT citizens and therefore not entitled to the rights and privileges of a freedom.
Why such a harsh outlook? Because the simple truth is that with any and all rights comes responsibility and you cannot exercise that responsibility unless you do the right thing from the start. Want to be a citizen? Then EARN it!
As just a resident, you have no responsibility to your neighborhood, city, state or nation, you're just a leech, a parasite whose sole purpose is to take for yourself with nothing in return and no regard for the effect on those around you, your neighborhood, state and nation. Simply put: a drain on society (you know who you are).
Being a responsible citizen means taking part in your community, and by that I do NOT mean your PTA or soccer league. I'm talking about attending your town council meetings, contacting your state and federal representatives, voicing your opinion on the issues, and speaking out when necessary against elected leaders to remind them just who put them there and where their power comes. Giving it back to secure those blessings of liberty.
It means taking an active role in society, and not just in those areas that benefit you personally, for indeed those short term goals will give you the short term rewards you seek. But when you look beyond yourself, you just might see that those long term goals are the most satisfying and actually provide the greatest reward.
Unfortunately, we live in a nation that is full of "residents" with fewer and fewer citizens every year and it shows. It shows in our laws, in our welfare programs, it shows in our increasing crime rates, in increased drug use, in illegal immigration and it shows in our voter turnouts. Residents just don't care. But rest assured, the politicians in power LOVE residents and HATE citizens! Residents are apathetic and more easily controlled by fear, because they just don't know the laws. Citizens, on the other hand, keep an constant watch on those government officials in positions of power and hold them accountable They initiate change for the betterment of society and the nation.
Sadly, I don't see a hopeful future, rather I see a continued downhill decline for us as a nation unless people start making drastic, and meaningful changes in their lives. Changes that will facilitate the shift from resident to citizen.
The only way we will survive as a nation is when people shake off the selfish and apathetic role of resident and take up the noble and rewarding mantle of civil and social responsibility and become a nation of citizens! There isn't a government in the world that can stand up to an intelligent, educated, informed and well armed nation of citizens...not even our own.
I suppose the question that each of you should be asking yourselves is are you a resident or are you a citizen?