Another viewpoint: Heed the call — your community needs you

(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star

We bid farewell to a roller-coaster of a year.

It was a time of transition in many ways as we tried our best to move on from the debilitating public health crisis that was COVID-19. The pandemic had control of us as the year began, and it has control of us as the year ends. While too many people continue to ignore it, the virus is wreaking havoc all around. It’s far from over, but it’s unlikely enough people will take the kind of personal responsibility needed to truly bring it to an end.

What America needs is the help of its citizens. Good citizenship is essential, now more than ever.

It has become customary in this space as a new year dawns to offer a litany of thoughts for the coming year with the emphasis on promoting an increased level of citizenship.

A version of this editorial first appeared in 2014 and we’ve adapted it to apply again this year. The message is timeless, although it carries increased urgency in these times. As we greet a new year, we offer these suggestions for making yourself a better citizen.

As the calendar turns, resolutions for self-improvement are top-of-mind. Lose weight. Exercise. Eat healthy. Stop smoking. Think positive. Laugh more. Worry less.

Mostly, they’re personal goals, and good ones at that.

We’d like to add another for your consideration: Become a better citizen.

How does one do that? It’s easier than you think. You probably do it all the time, yet don’t think of it in terms of being a good citizen. But there may be more you can do that requires only that you engage in your community in a greater variety of ways, each of which contributes to enhanced quality of civic life for all.

We offer the following resolutions from which to choose. Try a few.

  • Donate blood.
  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine and its boosters. It’s free and easily accessible. If you’re already vaccinated, lovingly urge those around you who resist it to reconsider.
  • Drive safely, with an emphasis on construction zones.
  • Attend a festival. They contribute greatly to a community’s sense of place, pride and self-worth.
  • Volunteer. Plenty of good causes need your help.
  • Make a contribution to a local charity, and not just during the holidays.
  • Read your newspaper. Better yet, subscribe to your newspaper. Yes, we know this sounds self-serving, but let us explain. One key way to be more aware, involved and informed is to know what’s going on in your community and to apply this knowledge to your civic life. The best way to get that kind of knowledge is by reading a newspaper.
  • Disinformation is everywhere, especially on social media. Be skeptical. Seek the truth.
  • Use your local parks.
  • Support community-based businesses. They need you. You need them. Now more than ever.
  • Take advantage of cultural opportunities. Visit a museum. Attend a theatrical performance, a concert or the symphony. Venture onto a college campus for something other than a sporting event.
  • Be a good neighbor. Mend fences. Build bridges.
  • Embrace diversity. Scrutinize biases or prejudices you may hold toward others concerning politics, religion, race, age, gender or sexual orientation.
  • Thank a veteran.
  • Tell public safety officials and first responders how much you appreciate the jobs they do and the risks they take.
  • Express gratitude to health care workers who continue to give so much of themselves to help their communities through difficult times.
  • Be kind to the animals. Adopt a pet from the shelter. Be a responsible pet owner.
  • Respect the environment. Don’t litter. Take care of community resources. Recycle. Educate yourself about ways to help make your community more sustainable.
  • Proud of where you live? Tell people about it.