The world you live in is divided into different nationals that are ruled by different types of governments. The most eminent part of any nation is its citizens. A citizen is a person who, by place of birth, naturalization, or nationality of one or both parents is given full responsibilities as well as rights as a member of a political or national community. People have a general understanding of what a citizen is, but what many folks don’t know are about the rights of a citizen, the responsibilities of being a citizen, etc. This article will teach you all the things about citizenship simply and interestingly.
1. What are the Rights of a Citizen?
In countries like the USA, the government provides certain rights to its citizens. The highest law in America is the US constitution and also known as the Bill of rights. It ensures that your rights as a US citizen are protected and preserved. Based on the constitution, the basic five rights of a citizen in the USA are as follows:
A. Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression
The first amendment of the Constitution covers the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. This amendment conveys that all US citizens have the right to freely express themselves and voice their opinions. It also prohibits Congress from promoting one religion over another or establishing a religion. This right allows freedom of religious practices. Because of the First Amendment’s Free Press Clause, US media is not censored.
B. Right to Fair Trial
The policing and laws in the US are very strict. A lot of lawsuits are filed in the USA per year but the constitution here ensures that at every court level, you will receive a free trial. Amendment 6 of the constitution provides appropriate rights to the accused person for a fair and speedy public trial. According to this law, everyone is innocent until they are proven otherwise. The accused also have rights to be informed about the case proceedings, to defend themselves through legal assistance, to have an interpreter whenever needed, and to have accurate facilities and time.
C. Right to Worship Religion in a Free Setting
In the USA, you aren’t restricted from practicing your religious practices. The First Amendment protects the religion of your choice. You can follow any religion of your choice and you are also free to not follow any religion. Due to the first amendment, no one can establish or impose their own beliefs on you forcibly. To ensure these rights, the constitution ensures that public universities, schools, or public-run organizations are prohibited from teaching religion.
D. Right to Vote Freely in Public and Open Elections
The US constitution and state law govern the eligibility to vote in the United States. According to the 26th Amendment, every 18 years or above US citizens can vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 also prohibits voter discrimination. Article 1 of the constitution states that it is the state’s responsibility to oversee elections.
E. Right to Free and Unperturbed Media
US citizens have to right to access media that is informative and transparent. They are permitted to have access to all media and news outlets. The Free Speech Clause also prohibits the suppression of free speech in media unless it is categorized as not protected by the first amendment. After this, learn about the responsibilities of being a citizen in the following pointer. Check out the 9 Features of Indirect Democracy.
2. What are the Responsibilities of Being a Citizen?
In the USA, the responsibilities of being a citizen are:
- Obey the Law- Every US citizen should obey local, state, and federal laws. When a law is broken by a citizen, he/she should pay the penalties.
- Pay Taxes- All US citizens are required to pay taxes in one form or other. It includes state, local, federal, property, sales, and social security taxes. Things like fire protection, roads, schools, police, medicare, national defense, etc can’t be maintained without the taxes paid by the citizens.
- Serving on a Jury When Summoned- Everybody has a right to a trial by jury. If you are summoned to serve as a witness during a trial, then the responsibilities of being a citizen can provoke you to appear and testify under oath to give current information about the given event.
- Registering with the Selective Service- The federal law requires all male US citizens and noncitizens aged 18 to 25 to register with the Selective Service virtually. The Selective Service is a federal agency under the executive branch of government. In case of a national emergency or war, the agency provides the number of men needed by the armed forces.
- Voting- Apart from being a privilege and right of the citizens, voting is an immense responsibility they must fulfill. The citizens should register to vote as well as vote in elections. By voting, they have a voice in the government.
- Stay Informed- The citizens should stay informed about the national and international issues that can affect their communities.
- Community Involvement- The citizens have the responsibility to contribute to the well-being of their community. They should recognize where change or help is needed.
3. What Responsibilities do You have as Citizens to Ensure that the Rights of Others are Protected?
One of the most important responsibilities of being a citizen is practicing tolerance. As a citizen, you have been granted certain rights but it’s also your responsibility to protect as well as support the rights of other people. You should respect other religions, opinions, cultures, and ethnic groups. It’s your responsibility to be considerate of other rights while exercising your rights. For example, your right to free speech shouldn’t intervene in someone’s right to privacy. (See Why do We Need a Government?)
4. What is Considered a Citizenship Responsibility rather than an Obligation?
Things like voting, practicing tolerance, staying informed, and community involvement are considered responsibilities of being a citizen rather than obligations. As a good citizen, it’s your responsibility to vote cause choosing a good leader is important for the development and maintenance of your country. You should be respectful towards the rights of other citizens as well. You should be aware of the national and international issues that will affect your community. And lastly, you should also contribute to the well-being of your community. After this, let’s learn how to become a good citizen.
5. How can You Become a Good Citizen?
To become a good citizen you should:
- Be Patriotic towards your country.
- Be a productive member of society and give back to the community.
- By voting, you can show that you care for your country.
- Take part in social issues and stand up against injustice.
- Follow the laws.
- Respect fellow citizens.
- Conserve resources.
- Pay your taxes.
6. What are the Benefits of Citizenship?
The benefits of citizenship in the USA are as follows:
- Right to Government Participation: As a US citizen, you have a right to vote in national, state, and local elections. It’s a meaningful way to participate in the government. You can also apply for jobs in the federal government. If you are interested in a political career, you are also eligible to run for elected offices (other than Vice President or President of the US).
- Right to Travel: In the USA, if a green card holder spends more than six months outside the country at a time, it is considered that they have abandoned their US status. However, if you have US citizenship you are free from the worry of losing your status even if you take long trips outside the US. You can even move to a foreign county and still not lose your citizenship.
- Right to Public Benefits: If you obtain US citizenship, you will gain public benefits like Supplemental Security Income (if you meet the program criteria, general assistance, state-level benefits, food stamps, etc.
- Bringing Family Members to the US: After becoming a US citizen, if you have any children or adopt any children, they will automatically become US citizens. In most cases, any child who has a green card currently, will become a US citizen automatically. As a citizen, you also have the benefit of applying for green cards for the other members of your family, such as your spouse, sibling, or parents.
7. What is One Promise made when Becoming a Citizen?
One promise made when becoming a citizen of the USA is to be loyal to this country. It means with the responsibilities of being a citizen, you are placing faith in and upholding the laws, culture, institutions, Constitution, and goals of the United States. You promise to defend the Constitution from internal as well as external enemies and to ensure that America’s democratic principles are preserved. You showed your public display of loyalty towards the USA by saying the Pledge of Allegiance with a hand on your heart and head facing the flag. (See How can You be a Good Citizen in Your Country?)
8. What are Six 6 Promises you make when You Become a U.S. Citizen?
After learning what is one promise made when becoming a citizen, let’s learn about all the 6 promises you make when you become a US citizen:
- To give up your loyalty to other countries.
- To give your loyalty to the United States only.
- To obey the laws of the United States.
- To serve in the US military if needed.
- To do non-military work (important for the country) if the US government asks.
- You promise before god that you took this oath without influence from anyone or hesitation.
Any privilege comes with a responsibility, same goes for citizenship. As a good citizen, it’s important to perform certain responsibilities for the betterment of your city and nation. Your country is a big part of your identity and you should always try to uphold your responsibilities of being a citizen. (See How can Individuals Contribute to bringing Change in Society?)