A Hiatus

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Years ago, while working as a secretary in a university hospital I applied for another job in that hospital, one representing a promotion, more secretarial prestige, higher pay. I wanted the job badly but didn’t get it. During a debriefing after-the-fact, my interviewer said I’d been a high contender and was “a good citizen”. His odd comment made me wonder what “good citizen” meant in that context. To this day, I’m curious about why he made the point, and right then why I didn’t question his meaning.

It stayed in my mind, “Good citizen”. After first cropping up when I was young, timid, needy, afraid to question a superior, it pops frequently into my adult mind. Again now, I look at the question and wonder. My sense is that most people behave in a good citizen context. We obey laws, don’t steal, avoid untruths, and when possible help each other. So, what’s the rub, what puts great nations in today’s social turmoils? What the heck anyway is a good citizen?

The best I come up with is that good citizenship is in a beholder’s eyes. That’s abstract of course, but narrowing its meaning requires an understanding that fundamental beliefs may differ. We all know there’s no absolute conconses about what’s most correct, for individuals, families, larger social groups, and as a whole the nation.

Let’s start by remembering that America began with a smallish group that landed in Plymouth Rock. As that group’s population increased, it laid social ground rules having to do with staying safe, keeping at bay Native Americans, and acquiring goods necessary for survival. It’s easier for smallish groups to agree on parameters and perimeters that will represent community goals and norms. It’s easier to monitor good citizenship among those who participate actively in creating the norms, they tend to behave.

We understand that the “fathers of our country” while creating the Constitution, were far-sighted and careful about their planned parameters and perimeters. They debated, compromised, and established outcomes into laws. What they didn’t and couldn’t have anticipated, are the many and amazing achievements that humans have achieved over the last 100 or so years: the industrial revolution, achievements in science and medicine, communications, transportation, and extended human-life spans that explode populations.

These days, we can’t agree on what’s right or wrong. It depends on one’s perspective in nations with multiple perspectives. Everybody has a means to support or justify his or her beliefs and positions relative to what may comprise good citizenship. Along with most others, I’ve plenty of thoughts, ideas, opinions, and firm beliefs about what’s right and wrong. In these days when arguing is a non-gainer, we often decide to watch and wait.

I take an occasional hiatus from political and social furor. Like now, I’m reading a recent publication that contains an anthology of Native Nations poetry. It’s entitled, When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, edited by Joy Harjo. Its poetry is touching, wonderful, and expresses longings for distant times–of common beliefs, bonded families, and small communities. Those times when “good citizenship” was easier to understand and could be defined.

Dear Friends: This book, caring and teaching, touches to a reader’s heart and soul. Diana

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