5 responsibilities of citizens

Bill of Responsibilities

The Declaration of Independence is a powerful document. Simply and concisely, it outlines three powerful ideas: that we are all created equal, that we have inalienable rights, and that we grant authority to government. The delegates to the U.S. Congress in 1776 believed that individuals are sovereign, and governments derive their powers “from the consent of the governed.”

The U.S. Constitution outlines many powers granted to government, but few responsibilities of the governed. It implies that individuals have responsibility to run for public office and vote in elections if they qualify. But it doesn’t make us accountable for the quality of government.

I think it’s time to add a Bill of Responsibilities to the U.S. Constitution. We cede some of our rights to government, but this does not entitle us to good government. We are responsible for good government.

This is my proposed list of 5 responsibilities of all citizens:

  1. Personal accountability. Individuals are responsible for their actions, contracts, debts, and obligations, and for accepting the consequences of their actions.
  2. Community cooperation. Individuals are responsible for treating everyone with respect and fairness, and for teaching acceptance of peoples and lifestyles that do not harm others.
  3. Lawfulness commitment. Individuals are responsible for upholding the Constitution and reasonable rules and laws; and for reasonably cooperating with law enforcement to prevent and resolve crime.
  4. Government participation. Individuals are responsible for being informed about policies, laws, and public officials; and for participating in government, such as voting in elections, submitting testimony on proposed legislation, and/or engaging in public service.
  5. World legacy. Individuals are responsible for safe-guarding individual rights and freedoms; and for ensuring healthy, secure, and financially stable communities for future generations.

Do you think there should be a Bill of Responsibilities in addition to a Bill of Rights? What responsibilities do you think we have as citizens?

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