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Using your readings by Martin Luther King, Jr.

and Henry David Thoreau as a starting point, please think about what a “citizen” is. Use first person "I" in your response, and ask yourself what makes you a "good citizen?" Consider the responsibilities of being a citizen to self, community, our society, and our country. How would you define a "good citizen" of the United States? How does Thoreau define a good citizen? Would Martin Luther King, Jr. agree with your definition, or with Thoreau’s definition? Please give direct quotes to support your thinking, and always dig deeper into your explanation as well. (500 words minimum) Am I a good citizen? I am not sure if I am a good citizen or not. I was raised to respect the law and have a deep belief that we should follow the laws of the land. I was taught to be respectful, loyal and willing to serve. I was a Boy Scout and achieved the rank of Eagle. I vote in general elections and even try to know a little about the candidates before I vote. I work full time, own a home and I file and pay my taxes every year. Do all of these things make me a good citizen? That depends on which of the many definitions of a good citizen you believe in. Many people have diverse ideas of what a good citizen is. Let us analyze Martin Luther King Jr.’s perspective on what a good citizen is. In “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” Mr. King stated the following: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Mr. King’s definition may include protesting injustice as part of his definition of a good citizen. When asked how he could advocate breaking some laws and obeying others Mr. King stated: “The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws. There are just laws and there are unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Martin Luther King Jr. agreed with Saint Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.” We can see that Mr. King believed that part of being a good citizen is to disobey laws that you feel are unjust. Another perspective on what makes a good citizen comes from Henry D. Thoreau. In his essay “Civil Disobedience” Thoreau states: “I heartily accept the motto,-“That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I believe,-“that government is best which governs not at all.”” Mr. Thoreau continues, “A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart.” Thoreau’s definition of a good citizen may include complete disrespect for the government rule and imposed authority in general. He believed that a good citizen was one led by his own conscience. I return then to the original question, am I a good citizen? I am not certain if I can answer that question entirely at this point in my life. But one thing I am certain is that I am at least working towards becoming one.

Explain your personal philosophy regarding your individual rights, freedoms, morality, values and responsibilities, especially to the LAWS, your COMMUNITY, and your COUNTRY. What responsibilities come with being free? Who decides what these responsibilities are? Do these responsibilities require enforcement? If so, by whom? (500 words minimum) My personal philosophy regarding my individual rights, freedoms, morality, values and responsibilities is based on my upbringing, life experiences and religious beliefs. It is based on the words that our founding fathers wrote in the opening of the United States “Declaration of Independence”, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” We were all created with certain rights endowed from our creator which should never be taken away. I also believe as the last three “Articles of Faith” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints state: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Each of us was created equal and as such equally responsible by our creator. We are responsible not only for our actions but also our inaction. With the great freedom that we enjoy comes great responsibility. Each of us in our society must be willing to stand up and sacrifice for our freedom and the freedom of others. Morality and values were an essential part of our society from the very beginning. I believe that high moral standards and values are essential to our country’s success and its future. Ultimately, my belief is that each of us one day will be held responsible to our god and his laws. Of course, as imperfect men and women we have created our own laws. Governments were created to decide what responsibilities each of us have as free men and women. Here in the United States we have elected officials to decide what our responsibilities are and how to enforce them. We have a responsibility to respect the laws set forth by these elected officials. We also have a responsibility to elect those officials that we believe represent our beliefs and how to enforce them. Enforcement of the laws is an essential part of our society. Without enforcement I believe chaos would ensue.

What should be done with people – preachers, iconoclasts, educators, or anyone else – who seemingly undermine the values of the society where they live such as Thoreau was doing in New England, or Martin Luther King, Jr. in the South? What seems to be the proper relation between the individual and the community, and between the local community and society in the broader sense? Consider Kay Anderson’s attempt to stop Michael Moore from speaking at UVU a couple of years ago because “this man does not represent the values of this community.” People should be allowed to share their views in a free society such as ours. As long as their speech does not pose eminent harm to anyone. But, if someone breaks the law then they should have to pay the full requirements of that law. If a preacher or educator is inciting people to break laws then I feel that they should also be held responsible. Individuals make up a community and communities make up society. As individuals in our communities and communities in our society we must have a common direction or goal in order to move forward as a country. Therefore, the individual plays a vital role in our community and ultimately our society. As I studied the Michael Moore incident at UVU I could see two perspectives. One is of the complete unregulated freedom of speech that many believe we need in this country. The second perspective is that of the community that felt that they had the right or freedom to object to Mr. Moore speaking in their community. I believe both perspectives have merit and should be respected.