Journal 4 - Individual and Societal Responsibility

Question #1 Using your readings by King, Jr. and Thoreau as a jump off point, please think about what a “citizen” is. First,define what makes YOU a "good citizen." 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 explain why. (500 words minimum)

I believe what makes me a good citizen is that I work and contribute to our community. To define how I contribute to our community is being involved in different functions such as raising money to help cure diseases, help with the education for people with disabilities, and our children, help change the lives’ of a homeless person, and more. I believe I could be a better citizen is to take the time to engage in more political topics in order to have the knowledge of what the governments is trying to control or the things they may need more control of, in order to voice my opinions on different political topics. I need to take my rights as a citizen to fight for my different beliefs that the government is controlling, instead of complaining about those topics and doing nothing about it. To define a good citizen of the United States I believe they would need to stand up and fight the different “unjust laws” as Thoreau defines it, until the Government listen’s and makes the necessary changes in order to treat all men and women as an equal, to give them freedom of speech even if this means to disagree with the president or other government officials. In David Thoreau “Civil Disobedience” he defines a good citizen as, citizens who will transcend human institutions in order to achieve the greater good for all. These citizens will accomplish all that they possibly can to correct erroneous establishments in order to attain morality. I believe both Thoreau and King, Jr. would both agree on my definition of a good citizen, however I believe Thoreau has a deeper definition of a good citizen, our belief systems are similar in the overall description which is to treat others as equal, to stand up and fight for what we believe in no matter what the consequences are. With the believes that Thoreau has for a bad citizen are those who remain politically apathetic when they witness injustices with the legal system, citizens may disagree with the policies of the government, but follow these laws regardless of the proper morality or ethics, or an individual who disagrees with certain taxes, but pays the taxes regardless of their own views. I don’t follow politics as well as I should, however some of Thoreau’s examples of a bad citizen in this day and age I believe would lead a person to imprisonment, fines, or other punishments that are worse than the first two mentioned. However we as citizens can go to congress, get petitions and other followers to help us change these laws or certain taxes that the government puts into place.

Question #2 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 on rights as an individual is you have that right to make the right choices in life to say no to drugs, gangs, greed, murder, you have the right to make good choices in life to love, support your family, to help those in need, to make a difference in life even something as simple as picking up litter off the ground even though it wasn’t yours. Our rights as an individual consist of many other things such as your right to vote, to fight for our freedom within our country and extending it with the whole world. The responsibilities that come with being free is to vote for our government, being on your community board or at least helping out by doing the neighborhood watch, help to keep gangs out of the community that you live in, volunteer to help the elderly or disabled to maintain their yard, or other chores that they can no longer do. Get involved with community fundraisers, to teach our children not to be prejudice, that all men and women should be treated equal no matter what the situation may be, color, race, religion. With the uproar Joseph Volgel brought to Utah Valley State College by asking Michael Moore to come to the school to talk about politics to engage the students into being more educated in politics and to vote. I understand people being upset about the price that he is being paid, however from what was said they we’re charging a fee for those that would like to hear Michael Moore’s talk in order to pay. This would not be coming from the student’s education or from us, the tax payers, so I’m unsure why the activist was upset about the pay, if they chose not to show up, they wouldn’t be paying anything out of their pocket to pay for Michael Moore’s visit, it’s your right not being ordered to pay. I think when you open your mind and at least try to see the others point of view, you may be surprised and change your opinion on the topic, or at least give you some insight on why the other person’s values are different than your own. This talk that UVSC put a different view for all the students who attended, whether they we for or against Moore, taught them how having a closed mind can tear a school and city apart. Should government have any right to step in and stop this from happening? No I don’t see why the government should be involved in speeches like this, unless the people get out of control, I would hope if it did get out of control the cops would step up to help in keeping the peace under control. All of us, as individuals have our different perception on what our responsibilities are that come with being free, some of these responsibilities I believe we do need help from our government, such as the voting, animal control, domestic violence, and murder. Topics like these are too

much for the society to take it upon their self without the help from the governments in order to keep it equal and should help keep everything more consistent with basic policies to follow. Other responsibilities we should just automatically do, such as helping out a neighbor, neighborhood watch, donating to help out others that are in need. The controversy over Michael Moore coming to the UVSC was quite the learning experience on how people don’t want to allow anyone but their self-talk, to speak their own views. I just loved it when that college student said, “We’re in a college, we are told to have an open mind, to listen to others ideas, to learn how to get into controversy topics” however as the video went on, our freedom of speech is shut down, we’re told not to speak, not to fight for our beliefs. If you do speak your mind you’ll be harassed, and possibly kicked out of your religion or out of your community, when we all thought we were living in a nation with the “Freedom of Speech”.

Question #3 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.” (You can watch a documentary entitled This Divided State which deals with the situation at UVU at this link:http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/this_divided_state)

In America, and in our constitution that our founding fathers believed in, is our “Freedom of Speech”, in my eyes it is our right as a citizen to make our own choice, to speak in ways in what we believe in, to fight for what we feel is right, without having the opposing person shutting you down because they don’t have the same belief’s as you. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with the opposing person’s believes and/or perspectives, however we shouldn’t close them out, tell them that their right to speak is no longer part of our nation, to push them out of our communities. The Government should be involved to keep the peace within our nation, however we should have no eyes in our justice. Seeing Lady Liberty should remind us all about what the blind lady of justice means, we all need to be reminded of it from time to time that it doesn’t matter what color, religion, or race we should all be treated equal. We need to follow our founding fathers laws instead of making up your own as you go along in life to benefit only yourself. We can learn more as a community; and our nation if we would work together, instead of being worried about being the one that’s right. If we have the freedom of speech, people like Kay Anderson when he tried to pay Joseph Volgel and the student body president in order for stop the Michael Moore speech in 2004 at Utah

Valley State College. Kay had the choice not so show up to listen, why should others lose the chance to listen to Michael Moore’s view on politics. We lose the right to think for ourselves, the way we express ourselves, we close our eyes to “Freedom of Speech” because other people have a different perspective of how they view the political politics. The speech that Michael Moore made cost the College thousands of dollars from private sponsors that was against Michael Moore and his speech. It took a lot of courage for Joseph to continue to have Michael Moore come and speech after being threatened with the many calls and letters that he received.