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Vigilance Is Necessary for Good Citizenship

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Vigilance Is Necessary for Good Citizenship
12/14/2016 1 comment Stephen P. White

Whether the results of November’s election make us exhilarated, terrified, or somewhere in between, there’s no reason to put our citizenship on the shelf until the next time we step into a voting booth. As Catholics, we are called to be good citizens every day, not just Election Day.

Vigilance is always in order when it comes to good citizenship, and that’s surely the case today. We have a responsibility to stay well informed so that we can hold our elected leaders accountable. Will our new president appoint judges that will defend life? Will he and our representatives in Congress restore and strengthen religious freedom? Will they follow through on promises to protect those who have been left out in the cold economically?

Waiting for national politicians to fix all our problems is no more fruitful than blaming them for all our problems.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t matter who is president or which party controls Congress, but the fact is that most of the work of citizenship happens in those social “spaces” between us, as individuals, and government—in our families, our schools, our parishes, the places we work, and so on. These spaces, what we call civil society, present countless challenges and opportunities for Catholic citizens, no matter who is in office.

To put it another way, the president can’t make you an example of integrity to your children. Congress isn’t going to teach them to be responsible and honest, or instruct them how to forgive or ask for forgiveness. The Supreme Court can’t heal the wounds of distrust and fear and division that mark our society.

No law can make anyone a good neighbor or teach anyone to be good stewards of the many gifts that have been entrusted to our care. But we can do these things. And we must do these things.

We do them because we’re Christian disciples, and we do them because they make our families, communities, and our nation better for it. This is our mission as Catholics and as citizens; if we don’t do it, who will?

Stephen P. White
© 2016 Liguori Publications. All rights reserved.

Want to learn more about faithful citizenship in our families, our schools, our parishes, and our work? See Mr. White’s Red, White, Blue, and Catholic.

Stephen P. White is a fellow in the Catholic Studies Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His work focuses on the application of Catholic social teaching to contemporary political and cultural issues. His writing has appeared in outlets such as the National Review Online, Huffington Post, America Magazine, and The Catholic Herald (UK). He is a regular contributor at CatholicVote.org. Since 2005, he has been coordinator of an annual seminar on Catholic social thought in Krakow, Poland.


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Tom Showerman December 20, 2016 at 5:11 PM
Keep up your most needed work in today's world.
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