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to accept certain obligations. For you cannot get many good things out of life without giving something in return.
Any person of good sense can carry out these obligations. He (or she) must be willing to work in a friendly way with other members of the group so that the whole group can do its work smoothly. For instance, if the group life of a home is to go along smoothly, each member of the family must respect the rights and property of all the other members and must do his or her part in the work of the home. In a study group each member must be polite and helpful, must do his or her part in the school work, and be careful not to damage school supplies or property. In a religious group each member should take part in the services and activities of the congregation and should try to live the kind of life which will make the church group strong and respected. In one way or another we have similar duties as members of every organized group to which we belong. It is only by doing our duty in each of these groups that we can get the most good out of our membership. And the groups themselves can be no stronger than their members make them. (See Figure 7.)
We consider that a neighbor is a good member of the community if he is friendly and honest, keeps a neat home, and helps to make the neighborhood healthy and safe. In the same way every citizen may become an important member of larger groups, such as the city, State, and Nation. But if any one member does not do his part, even in a large group, he makes the rest of the members do more work, which is not fair to them. A person who does not work well with his neighbors in nearby groups usually does not make a very valuable member of larger groups.
SOME OBLIGATIONS OF MEMBERS OF OUR NATIONAL GROUP
Every member of our National Government group (which is made up of about 127 million citizens and about 5 million noncitizens) has important obligations to the Nation, from which he (or she) gets so many advantages and services. Some of these obligations do not arise often to
Obligations To Our Groups
No group is stronger than its members make it. Each one of the groups below suffers if its members grow careless or grows stronger it its members carry out the obligations of group membership. To each of these groups every member owes certain obligations which can be met by any reasonable person.
test the good will of the group membership, but when they do present themselves they bring inconvenience or danger and call for real self-sacrifice. Other obligations arise every day and are repeated tests (although not difficult ones) of good citizenship. Here are three obligations, for example, which may require considerable time and discomfort, or even danger:
In time of war, any able-bodied man may be called upon to fight for his country. Every naturalized citizen knows that he must be willing to bear arms and fight in defense of the Constitution and the Nation. Unless he agrees to that, the judge will not let him take the oath of allegiance. For he must consider his country's safety more important than his own welfare.
Even in times of peace, any man may be ordered by the sheriff of the county in which he lives to help in arresting a criminal or in enforcing the public peace and order.
Any man who is a citizen (and in most States women, too) may be called upon to serve on a jury in a law court and must then, if he is chosen by the judge, stop his regular work and attend court as long as he is needed.
Some citizens may go through life without being asked to do any of these things, but there are various other duties which they may be called on to do, such as serving on local school boards or other committees, joining the National Guard (militia), or giving other voluntary services which it is hard for a good citizen to refuse. And also there are the taxes—which both citizens and noncitizens may be called on to pay, in order to meet the expenses of government.
Few of us really like to pay taxes to the government, and some of us think we get off without doing so, but we must remember that almost everybody who buys things from a merchant or pays rent to a landlord is helping that person to pay taxes on his business or property, because the merchant or landlord has to charge each person a little extra for that purpose. Of course almost every part of the government must have money to pay expenses. Some citizens on the other hand look on their taxes as their membership dues to the government organization which gives them so many advantages and services. In paying taxes they figure they are paying for police protection, fire protection, good streets and roads, schools, and hundreds of other government services. Turn to Figure 8. It shows many of the good things which we receive for our tax money,
Another duty of every citizen, which is also a great right and privilege, is the obligation to vote for officers of the government. Through using his right to vote, the citizen plays his part as one of the real rulers of this country. We can have good government only if we elect able and honest officials. In electing officials the vote of each citizen counts for as much as that of any other citizen. Each citizen is "equal before the law.” If the newly naturalized citizen understands the obligations which he takes upon himself with his oath of allegiance, he will not fail to vote as wisely as he can. He will gather all the information he can get about the candidates in every election and will think it over carefully. If the citizens of this country do not do their duty by voting, they will put our democracy in danger. For it is only by using their right to vote that the people can rule this country. All citizens who are interested in their own welfare, the welfare of their families, and the welfare of the Nation should remember this.
SERVING THE COMMUNITY IN OTHER WAYS
One of the usual ways for a citizen of the United States to show good citizenship is by taking an active part in the affairs of the community in which he or she lives. In his own town, village, or neighborhood a citizen can get firsthand information about local problems of government. If there is a new bridge or school to be built, a new public hospital to be planned, or a new park to be located, the
WHY WE MUST HAVE TAXES IN A DEMOCRACY
Some of the Things We Get for the Taxes We Pay
PROTECTION 1. Policemen to protect us. 2. Laws to protect our families and homes. 3. Courts to protect our rights. 4. Army and Navy to protect our country. 5. Fire departments to prevent and put out fires.
HEALTH 6. Pure water systems. 7. Sewer systems. 8. Inspected milk and meat. 9. Sanitoriums and hospitals.
EDUCATION 10. A widespread system of schools. 11. Free public libraries.
ROADS AND CONSERVATION 12. Highways and streets. 13. Protecied forests and wildlife.
PROTECTION OF SAVINGS 14. Bank inspection and insurance of savings in banks. 15. Regulation of corporations.
RELIEF AND AID 16. Public work and relief during hard times. 17. Old-age pensions. 18. Help for dependent, diseased, and crippled children. 19. Relief from droughts and floods. 20. Employment insurance for those who are injured or lose their jobs.