Anthony Appiah claimed that a cosmopolitan citizen was one who travelled the world, was liberal and yet loved his/ her local home the just like those who had never left. In fact, a cosmopolitan citizen was better because their open minded nature allowed them to embrace foreign concepts that were beneficial for the community, but their strong sense of home allowed them to recreate ‘home’ wherever they went, exposing others to cultures that they had never seen before. Some people might disagree with Appiah’s vision for a cosmopolitan future, but it is indeed important to be a ‘good’ citizen in order to hold the structures of society steady. Here are a few suggestions on how to contribute to society positively:
Don’t Be a Freeloader
Many countries around the world are welfare states as the state recognizes that certain things like education and healthcare are necessities which all people cannot afford; therefore, they are given free. Some people make a habit of taking from the government and never paying their dues. This is also true of countries that give unemployment benefits. Again, this exists because a state understands that without an income, a person will turn to crime to make ends meet. But there are plenty of people who live off the unemployment benefit without trying to find any kind of employment. State welfare is actually an investment in you that you’re meant to pay back by doing a job and paying taxes.
Do Be an Active Citizen
This means not being a passive bystander, whether that involves organizing a neighbourhood watch, or voting at every election. Take a first aid courses in Sydney so that you know what to do when someone on the pavement suddenly collapses; put your garbage in separate bins at home so you can recycle the glass and plastic; speak up when someone is harassed on the streets or the bus; and never pass up the opportunity to vote at an election.
Society works on a system of mutual cooperation, which is why crime disrupts the system. In return for governing us and keeping us safe, we give some of our freedom over to the state. But our vote keeps them (should) in line since we can vote them in or out. Attending a first aid course at school is the first step in that. Find the right training courses for you to have a certificate.
Be Open to Change
This gets harder as we grow older and we hang on to the familiar, but being open to change, embracing it, and knowing that change is an inevitable part of life (think Buddhist philosophy here) is also a part of being a responsible citizen. Why? Being resistant to change breeds intolerance, which can lead to discrimination, all the different –ism’s (like racism, sexism etc.) and is ultimately detrimental to you. Traditional societies that criminalize homosexuality face this problem: the younger generations don’t understand the older generations’ dislike as homosexuality is normal for them and this creates an intergenerational rift in terms of policy. The same can be said of disability rights, women’s rights and other disadvantaged groups.