by Audrey Buck

I Am a Citizen of the World

“A constitutional democracy is in serious trouble if  its citizenry does not have a certain degree of education and civic virtue.” -Phillip E. Johnson

Most people living in the United States would agree that in order to be a good citizen there is a certain list of things one must do. These standards might include voting in elections, being generous to those who are down on their luck, or displaying patriotism. These actions fall inside of a category called civic responsibilities; if a citizen acts on their feeling of responsibility they are doing their civic duty.

To be civic, one must be conscious of the needs of their greater community. A responsible citizen of a town must be attentive to the problems in their education system, the candidates running for city council, and the pollution of the local watershed. A responsible citizen of the United States, using a recent example, must listen to the outcry that #blacklivesmatter and make a change in their own life. A responsible citizen of the world must dedicate their energy to the protection of the Earth.

I love the grandiose idea of being a citizen of the world. It makes me feel like I have a personal connection to every race, religion, and nationality that has ever existed and that exists still. Thinking this way is joyous but can also be extremely painful. Being a citizen of the world means genocide is happening in my homeland. It means that my neighbors are being forced into refugee camps in order to evade civil war and my compatriots are dying of malaria. It means that my stomping ground is being destroyed by global climate change.

Stepping back from this big picture view, I continually realize that although I can try to sympathize with people experiencing all of these problems, I can’t empathize with any one except climate change. Therefore, this problem is the one I hold myself responsible for. Climate change is happening now; I feel it’s entirely necessary to abstain from waiting. Following Martin Luther King Jr.’s example set forth in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” it may seem like the action in the present is untimely and inconvenient, but now is the only time we have.

In my own personal life, I waste 12 tons of CO2 per year. That is 15 tons less than the average U.S. citizen but 7 more tons than the average world citizen. Living in the United States grants me access to a surplus of resources that I perpetually misuse and overuse. I have been born into certain lifestyle in the U.S. that is extremely detrimental to the environment. If everyone consumed resources in the way America does, we would need 4.1 Earths. As a citizen of the United States that’s shameful. As a citizen of the world that’s revolting.

In my life, I feel civic responsibility to tread lightly on the one Earth that we do have. I take advantage of the extensive recycling programs at Penn State and put waste in the correct bins. I use metal silverware and green 2 go. I take fast showers and keep the lights off during the day. Possibly, most importantly, I participate in Penn State Eco Action; a club dedicated to spreading awareness and change for the betterment of the Earth.

If any of you are interested in making a difference in your personal life, in Penn State, in the surrounding community, and in the world, Eco Action meets every Tuesday night at 6 pm in room 301 of the Boucke building. This year’s first campaign is called Kill the Cup, and its tagline is “if you waste paper cups no one will like you.” The challenge aims to get college students, faculty, and staff to use travel mugs instead of disposable coffee mugs. Penn State is one of the 16 universities in the country competing for first place and the grand prize of grant money for a sustainable project. To participate, you must bring your own reusable coffee mug to the Starbucks in the hub when purchasing a drink there. Then, upload a selfie of you and your drink to the Kill the Cup App. Anyone who uploads a photo will both help their school win and also be eligible to win gift cards and other prizes.

This campaign is the perfect way to start doing your civic duty as a citizen of the world. Will you participate? Do you think that maintaining a sustainable lifestyle is a civic responsibility? How do you fulfill this duty?




3 Responses to “I Am a Citizen of the World”

  1. Kwabena Asamoah

    Great and thorough post especially for a rhetoric class as you implored pathos, logos, and even mentioned kairos. I was not expecting this much sincere passion in your RCL post, and I have honestly never met anyone this involved in environmental protection. After comparing your acts to those of my own, I regret to say you would most likely be extremely disappointed in my actions, but I do however think that the environment requires maintenance and that this is a serious issue. I will try to incorporate some of your acts into my daily routine, and start using my Nike water bottle more often 🙂

  2. cxp5292

    I liked how you talked about an issue that you were passionate about that was also referenced in the text. It was also cool that you incorporated a way for people to become directly involved in the Penn State Community and make an impact, instead of just saying that we should do something and giving no solution of your own. I liked the quote that you began your post with since it was very relevant to your topic and gave the post a clear central idea.

  3. dvr5279

    Hey Audrey, I think that your example of being green and helping the Earth is an awesome way to show civic duty. I think it was also interesting that you have been able to calculate how much CO2 you use, and your use of factual info helps support your case that, in America, we can be very wasteful. Throughout your blog you talk in a very relatable and friendly manner, which makes it easier to connect with the reader and get your message across. The only thing I would maybe change is introducing your main point of going green a little earlier in your post because in the beginning you had other examples of civic responsibilities which can cause a little distraction from the main focus which is taking care of the Earth.

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