LEARN It! Challenge 2 of 11
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A Republic – 2.0 What is a citizen anyway?

“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government is staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”                                                          

George Washington

This is a story of discovery.  I discovered the fantastic truth behind the United States, what really is citizenship, and how you can be a real citizen.  I will tell it to you in hopes that it helps you discover it too.  It will save this country.  Nothing and nobody else will.

Let me start with a story I heard from a guide at the Harry S. Truman Winter White House Museum in Key West, Florida.

On the day before President Truman was to leave office, he packed his belongings in a moving van and left behind two suitcases, one for him and one for his wife.  The next day he and GEN Eisenhower left in the Presidential limo for the Capitol where the inauguration was to take place.  The Secret Service people put the suitcases in the back of the limo.  When they got to the Capitol President Truman had the Secret Service people put the suitcases behind one of the pillars that front the Capitol.  Then he went and turned over the Presidency to GEN Eisenhower in a time-honored ceremony.  When it was over he headed for the suitcases with his wife Bess.  The Secret Service people rushed over to help him but he waved them away saying, “No, you belong to him now”, pointing to President Eisenhower”.  Then he took his wife on his arm and walked to Union Station, and bought a ticket for the next train to Kansas City.  On the way he was surrounded by reporters, who asked him how it felt to be giving up the most powerful office in the country.  He answered them saying, “ I am not giving up the most powerful office in the country, I am entering it, Citizen”. 

This is a powerful statement that says it all.  You and I, the people, the citizens, hold the most powerful office in this country under our Constitution. 

You and I have a job, a very important job, and the most important job in the country.  It pays well.  It pays in freedom.  Freedom then allows creativity which lets you & I work where and how you want and make good money.  That is why it is the richest nation on earth.  It pays in happiness.  You & I are free to do things that make us happy and do.  That is why it is the happiest nation on earth.  That is why people still immigrate here by the millions.  The job is called citizen.

How many of you think of citizenship as a job?   What is your job as citizen?  How well do you do your job?  Should you give this job a high priority in your life?  You would think so.  It is a powerful job that pays very well and doesn’t take too much time or effort.  Yet when I tell people about this job called citizen, it seems that nobody understands it.  Most people think of citizenship as a right, and it is.  They also think it is a responsibility too.  But they don’t know how to do it.  That is the crux of the matter.  People want to be good citizens, but don’t know how.  They never learned about it in school.  Most States don’t teach citizenship and in the ones that do it is an elective so most citizens have had no training to do their most important job.  The ones that do also mainly focus on the workings of the Constitution, which is great, but how many of you will ever need to pass a bill in the Congress?  Where is the knowledge you need to help run your local community and elect good people to run the rest?  That is not taught.  So most people, since they can’t pass a bill in the Congress, just forget about citizenship most of the time and go about their business.  They leave it to those people who are activists most of the time.  Maybe around election time they try to do what they think is right as best they can.

For citizenship is more than passing a test.  It is a job.  It requires attention.  It requires doing.  It requires certain skills.  It requires certain attitudes.  It requires certain character traits.  It is a way of life.  After all this is a country of by and for the people, right?  How can you have a country like this without the people?  This book will tell you about your job as the boss of this country.  Most people here I talk to want to be good citizens.  There are just two problems.  One, they don’t think they can do it.  Two, they don’t think they have enough time.  Are you one of these people?  This book will show you how easy it is to be an effective citizen.  It’s not hard and takes very little time if you do it right.  It can be simple, easy, and is actually fun. This book will help you make this country great.  Believe it or not, that is up to you, and not some other person.

A lot of people right now are wondering if this country is theirs or not.  They worry about whether our original ideals are being ignored.  That our economy is on the downslide and we will soon be overtaken and replaced as the greatest nation on earth – just to put money in someone’s pocket now.  Some are afraid that the people are allowing their values to slip and losing the virtues and ideals that have made this the world’s greatest nation.  Are you are one of these people?  If so, do you want to just worry or do you want to DO something about it?  If so, then this book is for you.

If you think everything is in good shape; if you think your political party has your interests at heart; if you think the USA has “had it” and it’s too late; if you think “We the People” means someone else will do it and you don’t have to worry then you probably don’t need to read this book. 

Even if you are in between, please read on.  You will be surprised how easy it is to learn about your nation and how all of us can reclaim it and keep it great instead of letting it die for that is where is going if we do nothing.

The fact is this nation is the only one where you, the people, are in charge.  You’re it.  The Constitution says so.  It then goes on to create a system that allows you to do this.  You need to learn how it works in your life, because it does whether you like it or not.

It shows you how to control power and limit it.  That is the key and you are in charge of this.  All people have a power problem.  You and I love it for ourselves and hate it for others.  Everyone else is that way too.  So you and I and everyone else have to work within the system those crazy guys devised.  You know Washington, Franklin, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson, those guys.  They were real and they gave you a really good, a really special country.  They left you a nation where the ordinary person has a chance to have some power and control their own destiny.  The other choice is to have someone else take power and tell you what to do.  Humans are just that way.  They seek power to be safe.  Then they don’t let go of power when they get it.  They then use it to keep it.  That is a bad deal for everyone that doesn’t agree with whomever is the power. 

Your job is to control this urge in yourselves and those you elect.  Elect people of character and capability who are trying to be good for your and their community, State and Nation.  Then watch them and make sure they stick to their ideals.  It is pretty easy actually.  You just have to do it.  Learn how to gather information.  Learn how to talk to one another to decide what to do for the good of all.  Learn how to recognize the power problem and deal with it.

Benjamin Franklin, when a woman asked him, “What have you given us?” said “A republic, if you can keep it”.  It is up to us, each of us to keep it.  All of us, that includes you, have to just do it.  We must have the will to keep it.  Wanting to keep it is not enough.  It will take action and thought on your part.  It is up to you the citizen, you the people, to keep this country of by and for the people.   Don’t get fooled by this “we” stuff.  “We” always turns out to be someone else when “we” don’t want to do something.  This needs to be done or the nation dies.  So think of it as you the people.  It is your job to save this nation and keep it.  The rest of this book will tell you why and how.  It will show you the challenges in doing your job and the gifts that have been given to you.  America is at a turning point in history.  It will not stand still.  Will it go backwards or forwards?   You will decide.  Remember, the first job of a free people is to remain free.  Read on and find out what that job is and how to do it.