Appreciating Citizenship

I just had the privilege of participating in a citizenship ceremony which has caused me to reflect on some things related to some of my Word of the Month posts, including this month’s word which is Privilege.

I attended a Court of Naturalization and witnessed a number of individuals become Citizens of the United States of America. My simple part in the ceremony was leading the singing of the National Anthem, which was certainly not a highlight of the day, especially considering technical difficulties with audio.

The highlight for me was when the new citizens stood and introduced themselves, telling where they had come from and their feelings about this new citizenship. In spite of, or perhaps more accurately because of, the fact that this journey had taken a great deal of desire, time and effort on their part, it was apparent that they did feel that this was a great privilege. They came from an interesting assortment of countries and backgrounds. There was a recognition that there is something special about being “American”, including rights and opportunities unavailable to them in other countries. There were expressions of gratitude for this new citizenship and those who had helped and supported them in their journeys. Some expressed excitement about new opportunities to participate and immediately afterwards registered to vote.

Do we who have been privileged to be born into citizenship appreciate what we have? Do we recognized that among all the inhabitants of this world past and present, we are among the most privileged? Do we appreciate the sacrifice others have made for us to enjoy these privileges?

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What is your word worth – whether a resolution, oath, legal contract or verbal promise?

“I solemnly swear. . .” This month of January there will be many people taking oaths – primarily an oath of office for those newly elected to leadership positions in Government. I recently joined an organization where the process of becoming a member included taking an oath to uphold the purposes and goals of the organization. In court, witnesses take an oath that their testimony will be the truth. How much do we think of these oaths and how seriously do we take them?

An oath is defined as a covenant, pledge, promise or vow to do certain things. It is a public proclamation and manifestation of what should also be an inner personal commitment. Though taken before other people and often with much ceremony, the purpose is much more than to satisfy others that our intentions are good and honorable. It is a solemn and sacred promise, usually pledged in the name of God. When we swear in His name, we recognize a need for His help to fulfill responsibilities – “so help me God” – and we recognize that He is our witness to this commitment. Implied is the realization that we will be judged by God as to how well we keep this pledge. God knows and judges the intents of our hearts as well as our sincere efforts.

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