Country first

Anastasia Spytsya

Oh, beautiful America. How much do you give me? You give me everything I need and more. Because of you, I have an opportunity to pursue happiness. Because of you, I have an opportunity to become who I want to be. You give me an opportunity to go as far as I want. You even give me a right to change you for the better. You give my fellow citizens and me something other people won’t have in their lifetime: a chance.

You, America, have given us a chance. But is there anything we, as citizens, can do to give back?

The people who built America gave their hearts to develop this nation. We can contribute the same. There are so many different ways to give back; however, I believe giving your character is the most priceless gift you can give to America.

All of us hold our own political beliefs, and it’s wonderful. But we all need to share common sense to help America to overcome difficulties. And this sense lies within our hearts.

I often ask myself, “What makes a good citizen?” And I feel the content of our character is the most important and fundamental aspect of citizenry. There are just very few traits that will help America to become a better country. Yet they are so difficult to develop.

Integrity: Where did integrity go? Nowadays people who have no empathy or love for others surround us. We live in a country full of selfishness, and most people will do harm to others to benefit themselves. We live in an “all about me generation.” What we fail to understand is that integrity is not simply about standing for your beliefs and ideals. It is also standing for principles that will benefit this country. You benefited from these values, now please make sure your children will, too.

Honor: Honor this country. Stand up when the anthem is playing; take a moment to thank a soldier. Honoring America is like honoring your parents. They gave you life, but America decided for you how you’ll live your life: the way you want to.

Not too many citizens of the world have such privilege. Honoring America is important because you show that you value a country you belong to and all the great people who made this country for you. By honoring America, you show your support for its fundamental principles and that you are proud for its accomplishments.

Commitment: If you have your stuff unpacked in the U.S., you might as well want to unpack your mind. If you hate this country, I can recommend you move to Canada, where they don’t care about anything because no one cares for them. In America we lack unity, something that I often write about. If all of us commit to build America, it will unite us.

Respect: We should respect fellow citizens to the best of our abilities. I get that you might hate Republicans or Democrats. But the lack of respect leads to a lot of hate, which creates more problems. We are facing so many disagreements today because we do not pay attention to what other people say and do — we’re too focused on making our point a priority.

Loyalty: I would imagine that most of you have said the Pledge of Allegiance at some point in your lives, which means that you promised to be loyal to your country. But what does it really mean to be loyal?

Being loyal to your country does not mean to be loyal to its government or whoever is running this nation. Sometimes being loyal to your country requires being disloyal to the government. In 2010, we are seeing the exact form of government from what it’s supposed to be. And, if we pledged allegiance, it is our responsibility to keep our word. Being loyal to your country means doing everything it takes to make it better.

Duty: It is our duty to be responsible about this country’s future. I hope that all of you support democracy as the most legitimate form of the government; therefore, you are responsible for maintaining the democratic process by voting.

I see it an appeal to integrity. Your vote is a vote for democracy.

People in the 21st Century lost the true meaning of citizenship. We take advantage of our rights yet ignore our responsibilities. The Declaration of Independence guarantees us three rights, “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” However, we now don’t care about keeping our country safe, which “life” stands for; we have forgotten about the importance of freedom, which is represented by “liberty,” because we are that damn obsessed with the pursuit of happiness.

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

— President John F. Kennedy ?

Anastasia Spytsya is a senior Russian translation major and political science minor

and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact her at [email protected].