Citizenship Rights and Privileges

Would you consider yourself privileged to be a citizen of the United States or do you feel that it is your right to be a citizen?

Citizenship can mean different things depending on each individual. Some feel that it is a pledge of loyalty; some feel it is a membership, while others feel that it is a bond they share with their country, society, town or city. All of these views are correct. “The term citizenship refers to a legal status that connotes membership in and allegiance to a nation which carries with it specific rights and responsibilities” (Citizenship in the United States, 10).

As just stated, citizenship comes with rights and responsibilities. Citizenship also comes with many privileges. Many people consider rights and privileges to be the same thing.

Rights are what you are guaranteed. The rights that we have in the United States are all listed in the Bill of Rights and in the Constitution, which was approved by our forefathers. If it was not for the men and women who serve in the military and risk losing their lives on a daily basis, not only would we lose our freedom, but we would lose all of those rights that are listed in the Bill of Rights and Constitution.

People who come to the United States legally have a right to become a citizen. We support an immigration policy that reflects multiculturalism. However, they also have to be responsible. In becoming citizens, the person is responsible for voting, jury duty, and even possibly serving in the armed services. The reward is being able to enjoy freedoms and rights that they did not have in their own nations (Immigration and the Meaning, 1).

Privileges are not just handed to us, we have to earn them. We have the privilege to pursue a higher education. “Americans with a strong sense of ‘patriotism’ have been found to exhibit rates of higher participation than those with weaker attachment to their country. However, citizens with high levels of formal education seem to be the exception. Despite scoring lower on conventional measures of “patriotism,” well-educated Americans are among the most politically active segments of the population” (Education, Civic Patriotism, and Democratic Citizenship, 1). By receiving a higher education, not only do we set examples for the younger generations, but we help improve our country as a whole. People, especially women, from other countries wish they had the privilege of going to school to receive an education. A higher education is one privilege that we all take for granted in this country. We never really stop and think about how fortunate we are. Not only can we voice a desire for education, but we are also free to act upon it. Recently a young woman in Afghanistan was shot because she voiced her desire for a better education. Unless it is brought to our attention in ways such as this some people do not realize how great this country really is and how fortunate we are to live here.

We also have the right to vote. During this time of Presidential elections we have a privilege to vote for the Presidential candidate that we feel has a strong conviction toward our country’s educational system. Privileges toward our education are being compromised by increasing the number of students per classroom, and decreasing the number of teachers and their salaries. It is the responsibility of our nation’s leaders to provide us the opportunity of a proper education. By weakening our education system we are weakening our country.

“The cost of this freedom is responsibility. And if you refuse to pay this expense, you will never have the trust, power, and freedom that comes with it” (Responsibility, Rights, and Privileges, 1). If we are not responsible as citizens then we lose our rights and privileges. Paying taxes and following laws are just two examples of some of the responsibilities of being a citizen. Responsibility is not defined by our own opinions and beliefs. “Responsibility is defined by others and our society” (Responsibility, Rights, and Privileges, 4).

As questioned in the very beginning, are you privileged, or is it your right to be a citizen of the United States? We should consider our citizenship a privilege.

 

Works Cited

MacYoung, Marc. Homepage. Responsibility, Rights, and Privileges. No-Nonsense Self-Defense, LLC. 2008.

Martinez, George A. “Immigration And The Meaning Of United States Citizenship: Whiteness And Assimilation.” Washburn Law Journal 46. (2007): 335. LexisNexis Academic: Law Reviews. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.

Straughn, J.B. and Androit, A.L. “Education, Civic, Patriotism, and Democratic Citizenship: Unpacking the Education Effect on Political Involvement.” Sociological Forum, 26 (2011): 556-580. JSTOR. Web. 15 Oct. 2012.

U.S. Department of Defense. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. Homepage. Citizenship in the United States. May 2004. http:ilw.com/resources/Citizenship_United_States.pdf.

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