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S. Wyatt Shely
Ms. Hopkins
BUSN 2701-H01
12 November 2016
The Ideal Citizen
In order to dive into the conversation surrounding ideal citizenship, one
must first understand the concept of a citizen. A citizen is a legal subject of
a nation or state (Define Citizen, 2016). Being a citizen of the United States
of America, under a constitutional federal republic, one has the power and
right to vote for their federal and state officials. In essence, the power lies
with the people. Although it seems as though the formation of a good citizen
involves qualities solely of political nature, when critically analyzed, the
concept of citizenship also requires a dialogue of values outside the political
spectrum. This identification and research into the characteristics of an ideal
citizen is beneficial for the assessment of ones ability to improve their own
standard of citizenship. To achieve the most accurate representation of a
model citizen, specifically a United States citizen, it is critical to determine
what qualities, values, and actions are possessed by people that practice
admirable citizenship.
According to Charles Ben, in a study about what it means to be a good
citizen, a few of the qualities and values that make up an ideal citizen
include the quality of ones voting record, the ability to stay well informed,
participating in civic engagement, and practicing good moral and ethical

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behavior (What Does It Mean to Be a Good Citizen?, 2001). The quality of
ones voting record and their ability to stay well informed go hand in hand.
Frequently voting in public elections, being able to form individual opinions
about the candidates, and staying informed on present issues are all
important practices of the two previous stated qualities. Briefly mentioned
earlier, civic engagement is another value held in high regard of an ideal
citizen. A well-respected individual in his community, Dr. Joshi, volunteers
his time to help out at the Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry on
Mondays and Thursdays. Holding a Ph.D., Dr. Joshi has a high opportunity
cost for his time. Hours that he could be spending making money in his
private practice are priced highly. So the fact that he volunteers time in his
week to work at GHCCM proves that he greatly values civic engagement.
Lastly, good moral and ethical conduct is a must when mentioning the ideal
citizen. The ability to hold up the common good with a higher regard than
ones own selfish desires is true altruism.
The choice of Dr. Joshi volunteering his time to serve his community is
one example of how someone can take action to become an ideal citizen.
Another action characteristic of good citizenship is the protection of the
freedoms and rights established by ones governing body, and of humanity in
general. Although this idea concerns the political atmosphere, it is also
relevant to view it in a discussion of morality. There is no better
representation of this than by the actions of Martin Luther King Jr., the man
who played an integral part in establishing political freedom throughout the

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United States by spearheading the American Civil Right Movement (Rebeles,
2015). Kings message to uphold equality, freedom, and civil rights effected
and still effects every citizen of the United States since his powerful
movement. He did not try to divide the nation through political slander.
Instead, he connected the nation with his argument for the unalienable rights
of all citizens detailed in the Declaration of Independence. He led countless
peaceful, non-violent protests and marches in hopes to enact change. This
method of protest was learned from another individual who is viewed as an
ideal citizen, Mahatma Gandhi. Kings trip to India made him understand
non-violent resistance better and he was convinced that that was the way
forward for achieving civil rights for American blacks (10 Major
Accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr., 2014). Whether it be volunteering
ones time to help their community, or dedicating ones life to uphold civil
rights, ideal citizens understand the benefits of taking action for the common
good.
Volunteering a month in the summer for the Greater Hickory
Cooperative Christian Ministry has reaffirmed my notion that the most
effective way to become an ideal citizen is donating ones time. Financial
donations are always important, but in order to build and obtain the qualities
and values practiced by ideal citizens, the gift of time is the most critical. As
I spent more time at GHCCM, my compassion for the individuals I was
serving grew. It reaffirmed my moral and ethical backbone. Throughout my
experience I spent time with fellow staff that I identified as being ideal

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citizens. Daily, they went out of their way to make a difference in the clients
lives. The one commonality in all of them was their devotion and passion for
civic engagement.

References
Anirudh. (2015). 10 Major Accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr.
Retrieved November 29, 2016, from https://learnodonewtonic.com/martin-luther-king-jr-accomplishments
Define Citizen. (2016). Retrieved November 12, 2016, from
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/citizen
Rebeles, S. (2013). Responsibility & Unity: The Freedom of Martin Luther
King, Jr. Retrieved November 12, 2016, from
https://stanfordfreedomproject.com/multi-media-essays-onfreedom/responsibility-unity-the-freedom-of-martin-luther-king-jr/
Thorson, K. (October 08, 2012). What Does It Mean to Be a Good Citizen?
Citizenship Vocabularies as Resources for Action. Annals of the

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American Academy of Political and Social Science, 644, 1, 70-85.