Other than recalling a civics class or a pick-up game at the civic center, most of us don’t give the word civic much thought. Much less the concept of our civic responsibility.
In April 2023, when we changed our name to Civic Heart, we did so to inspire passionate, committed action to build strong individuals and strong communities. Our new name is a call to others to join us in exercising civic responsibility.
“What civic responsibility?” you may ask. “If I vote and obey the traffic laws, aren’t I meeting my civic responsibility?”
Partly. But a more powerful definition of civic responsibility beckons each of us to take a more active role in our community:
Civic responsibility = active participation in the public life of a community in an informed, committed, and constructive manner, with a focus on the common good.
Let’s break that down.
Active participation means we are off the sofa, doing more than talking about problems and what needs to be done by somebody. It means we are actively involved in the solution.
In the public life of a community reminds us that our responsibility is to be where the people are, where the needs are.
In an informed, committed, and constructive manner instructs us how to perform our civic responsibility well. We do our homework and learn about the issues and root causes. We stick it out, even when it’s hard to see anything changing for the better. We participate in a way that makes things better, not worse. Our words and actions lift people up, preserve people’s dignity and empower people to be the creator of their own life experiences by doing what’s in their control.
With a focus on the common good prompts us to focus not on what’s in it for ourselves – who we might meet, who will see us doing good works, or what rewards we might earn in heaven. Instead, it’s our responsibility as members of a society to do our part to have our society work for everyone, so all in our community can thrive and realize their true potential.
Not everyone in our community has what they need to feel safe, do well in school, stay healthy, be a good parent, or find a good job.
Next time you drive through a part of town where it’s obvious people have less than you – less opportunity, fewer material goods and life circumstances we tend to take for granted, less hope — ask yourself, how am I fulfilling on my civic responsibility to have a positive impact on this situation?
Your professional skills, your talents, your access to resources, your financial gifts, your problem-solving – all are needed, in whatever measure you can contribute.
Our Civic Heart is open to welcome your Civic Heart, and to mentor you in service. Even small gestures, when offered by many, can make a tremendous difference in a life, including yours.
Please, introduce yourself.