Ten steps to becoming
a better citizen
SC Statehouse Report
NOV. 9, 2003 - - With all of the complaining people do about government,
they might want to remember what Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration
of Independence - - that if democracy wasn't working, they should
are countless ways citizens can perform individual acts to make
their communities stronger and America better. Here is a Top Ten
list for how to be a better citizen:
Vote. Only half of South Carolinians eligible to vote are
registered and a little over half of those actually vote. In the
recent Charleston mayoral election, less than 40 percent of the
city's 52,000 voters went to the polls. Of the 19,000 who voted,
just over 10,000 - - one in five of those registered to vote - -
backed winner Joe Riley. When you think of the impact a mayor has
on the government process, it's pretty sad to think a minority of
potential voters actually participated in the process. If you don't
vote and help select our leaders, you shouldn't complain about taxes,
water rates, electricity rates, traffic, noise, development and
Commit public service. Local governments are always looking
for people to become involved in the governing process. You can
apply to serve on a local board. Or if you're really frustrated,
you can take the public service plunge, run for office and kick
the old buzzards out.
Join a civic group. Local clubs and organizations enrich
a community's life. From a Rotary Club that mentors at schools to
a garden club that beautifies a town, you can become a bigger part
of the community by getting more involved.
WORLD: Some people show up everywhere
FEEDBACK: Manufacturing woes
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Stay informed. Part of being a good citizen is keeping up
with what goes on in your community. Read a newspaper, watch the
TV news, listen to the radio or get news on the Internet. By staying
informed, you'll be able to join more in community debate in your
neighborhood, at your workplace and in your church or synagogue.
Meet your neighborhood. With more people living in subdivisions,
neighborhoods have dramatically changed. Many folks don't know their
neighbors. You'll feel like more of a part of your town or area
if you invite folks in for coffee, host a block party or organize
a neighborhood watch.
Attend public meetings. Local governments have dozens of
meetings every month to discuss things that directly affect you
and your community. Often, however, the only people at the meeting
are members of the board and a reporter. By attending public meetings,
you can have direct input into the process - - and perhaps affect
Write a letter to the editor. If you see something going
on that really makes your blood boil, send a letter to the local
newspaper. Not only will it make you feel better but you'll be surprised
how many people read it and think the same way. Politicians read
these letters and are influenced by them.
Volunteer in your community. Children's sports teams need
coaches. School children need mentors and readers. Clubs need members.
Roadways need to be cleaned of litter. Church groups need leaders
and participants. Pick some activity you enjoy and volunteer your
time. You'll meet new people and have a good time.
Support a local cause. In addition to volunteering, you
may want to consider donating money to local organizations. Many
non-profits - - and even some churches - - have suffered due to
the down economy. Your charitable (tax-deductible) giving can go
a long way to help organizations complete their missions.
Smile. With the pace of our lives moving frenetically, we
often forget to relax and slow down. If we periodically took stock
of what we really cared about, priorities would be clearer. And
more than likely, all of those things that lead drivers to road
rage and parents to yell would take on less meaning. It's often
said that the more people smile, the better they'll feel about themselves
and their communities.
A 1960's-era bumper sticker urges people to question authority.
That's good, but you have to be willing to do more than just question
to get real change.
Some people show up everywhere
This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:
11/2: Some appointments OK
To the editor:
I believe some appointments may be OK but others should
be by the voters, for example: I would state that most magistrates
have not been reappointed since their initial
appointment. Some Senators like to carry their appointments in their
"hip pocket", where at the drop of a pin, he can remove
that magistrate whenever he wants another one. That
process was in affect in Cherokee County in the early l990's and
Senator Harvey S. Peeler, Jr., was successful in having a "rider"
included in the budget that deleted any funds for Veterans Affairs
Office as long as I was VA Officer
-- Boyd McLean, Gaffney, S.C.