What is the Proper Role of the Individual in Civil Society?
I was talking with a friend last week about 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s proposed “freedom dividend,” which is a universal basic income (UBI) proposal that would give all Americans above eighteen years old $1,000 per month. When I said that this would help reduce poverty and raise the living standards of Americans, my friend promptly replied with “uh, no, J-dawg! (his nickname for me).” “If we gave Americans $12,000 annually,” he continued, “nobody would feel the need to work anymore or even participate in our democracy, thus ruining the freedoms and liberties in our country.” Our disagreement on this subject caused me to deeply ponder a bigger question surrounding the issue of UBI: what is the proper role of the individual in civil society? In this essay, I will examine why liberty does not equal laziness, why participation in one’s government is necessary even in free countries, and why staying responsible in respect with your plethora of freedoms is important to keep a society functional and civil. In my opinion, in order for an individual to serve their proper role in a society to maintain its functionality, they should be an active participant in the government of their society, be an upstanding citizen of good morals and character, and refrain from lazy behavior just because one’s country has programs in place to protect those who won’t work for themselves.
Firstly, a civil society cannot be civil without active participation by each individual in their society’s government. In other words if the individual, are unwilling to participate in the ruling authority’s policies and rules, then eventually they won’t even have the freedom to do so as a dictator will seize power and work to serve themselves instead of the people. It is an individual’s duty to maintain the civility and fairness of their society so that their children and grandchildren can live in a society where they have freedom and civil rights that allow them to pursue their dreams and live to their fullest. Therefore, a proper citizen would involve themself with their local government, write letters to their government officials expressing their grievances or concerns, and, of course, they should vote for their politicians who represent them. By doing this, their participation will not go unrewarded, as their labor will result in the continuation of the liberties and freedoms they might currently enjoy in their society, or it can mean the creation of new liberties that they should be able to have. Thus, the moment one surrenders their will to participate in politics, whether it be because of the tense atmosphere or uncomfort surrounding politics, they have surrendered their position as an upstanding citizen of a civil society.
Secondly, for a society to remain or become civil, each individual in said society must not become lazy or stop working; rather, they must work all the more diligently to ensure the society they live in can reach its highest potential for liberty and equality. Indeed, a civil society is not a society without rules and jobs-- people must sacrifice a degree of their time and liberty to ensure that their society can allow them to have the leisure that they currently enjoy. If nobody worked and everyone lived off of the state like mindless parasites, then the government would be left with no choice but to force all its citizens to work and provide for their country. Therefore, though it may be a right of the individual to sit in their basement eating ice cream and playing Minecraft all day and night, it is not in adherence to their duty as a participant in a civil society.
Thirdly, an individual must be responsible if they are to maintain the civility of their society and the liberties it offers, as to do the opposite would mean to disregard one’s duty as a citizen. By “responsible,” I am implying that being clean and hygienic, free of addictions to substances or pornography, and mentally stable to work a job and interact with others. If one is devoid of the opposites of the unbecoming marks of a civilly inactive individual that I listed, they are not fit to be members of their society as they lack the qualities that make them beneficial to promoting liberty in their government and being useful to their fellow citizens. If one is unwilling to simply brush their teeth in the morning and at night, how can you expect them to partake in the labor of grooming and keeping the liberties and freedoms of their society? You can’t; it is the duty of the individual to first care for themselves and their own well-being before they can care for the well-being of their society.
In conclusion, it is the individual’s role to involve themselves in their communities, government, and job within their society if they are to be an upstanding and proper citizen. Indeed, if they do not involve themselves with their local government, even on the town level, or do not care at all about different policies and legislation affecting communities within their society, they are not following their duty as a proper citizen. Furthermore, on a larger scale, it is the individual’s duty to educate themselves and what their policymakers and politicians are doing and how that affects people and communities in their society, and then use that information to take a stand and involve themselves with politics so they can help make a positive difference. For instance, if their government wanted to pass a law that would make it illegal to drive after 9:00 PM PST, it is the duty of the individual to learn how that will affect their fellow citizens and then take a stand for or against that law-- they need to be involved! However, in order to accomplish the former an individual must first accomplish the hardest and possibly most important thing to follow their proper role in their society: care for themselves. Yes, just care for yourself-- sounds simple right? Wrong. This is possibly the hardest one because it is so easy for us to indulge in what we know is bad for us, but because we do not care as to how it affects us we do it anyway: “oh, just one more muffin-- I’ve had a long day, I’ve earned it.” With a lazy mindset that perceives brushing one’s teeth as a laborious task, one is unfit to participate in the difficult and laborious task of involving themselves in their society. Thus, by participating in one’s government, involving themselves, and by refraining from lazy behavior, they are fulfilling their proper role as a citizen to maintain their society’s upkeep.
By Luke Roth
Currently we are in the heart of spring sports season. Both our baseball and softball teams have just kicked off league play. Both teams are right in the playoff mix as well.
The softball team is currently on a tear!! They are 3-0 in league and 11-0 on the year with a current rank of #1 in the state. Last night they hosted Williamina, and hit the scoring early, they ended up winning 15-2 in five innings. Today they travel to Taft for a huge game! Taft is currently 3-1 in league and 10-4 on the year and sit at #5. You can follow the game on gamechanger if you look up our team in the softball section.
Our baseball team has been playing some great baseball as well, they played two top eight teams last week, and barely lost both contests. They sit at 4-2 against in-state teams and are 2-2 in league overall. They travel to Taft today as well in a game that will result in either team going to 2nd in league. Our boys, like the girls, hit the scoring early and beat Willamina 14-4 in five innings.
Private Schools: Why Paying For Your Child’s Education Is Anti-American
If there is one thing, or in this case, a collection of things which I utterly detest, it is private schools: they claim to be the go-to school for the “gifted” and “exceptional” kids of our nation, yet this is only a disguise to hide their target student body: rich, anti-American, privileged parents, who are willing to pay for a superior education for their child than what is redilly offered at a traditional public, online, or a one-on-one school. Of course, nobody who is actively attending a private school, whether it be a university or a prep academy, thinks to themselves on any given day, “wow, I sure am glad to support a system that favors the rich and keeps the poor uneducated and unable to pursue upward mobility; life is good.” Nobody is consciously aware that they are doing exactly what I just said. Nonetheless, through it is unbeknownst to them, they are actively ruining communities, hurting public good, and ruining equality on a nationwide scale.
Firstly, private schools ruin communities by creating a visible class divide between the rich and poor, which only swells economic inequality, which hurts both poor and rich families alike. Think of why private schools exist in the first place: paying upwards of $30k per year for your child’s education requires that private schools must prove that their students outperform their kin at public schools (Julie Halpert, What i f America Didn’t Have Public Schools ?, 2004). In other words, since education is a public good, then all that matters for scoring a good job and prosperous future is real and truthful learning; “if education is merely a positional good,” Jack Schneider, author of Why Private Schools Are Bad For Society asks, “are their credentials perceived as more valuable than credentials possessed by others?” Yes-- only if you want the useless distinction of attending a top university or institution, alongside evidence of qualifications for your career. Yet, though no employer will ever ask you “did you attend Harvard University?” during your job interview and will not look for it on your resume, some folks still believe it is worthwhile to spend a fortune on a nice title that makes their education appear superior. If only the richest children in communities can attend private schools because of their high tuition rates and prestigious name, then that puts middle class and poor Americans at a disadvantage in the long run, as private schools use their high tuition rates to purposefully horde resources and make their students appear more superior on paper than their counterparts.
Secondly, besides hurting communities and strengthening the economic divide between rich and poor Americans, private schools genuinely damage the good of the public, as they are anti-American and are the direct opposite of a virtuous and moral society. Indeed, it is true that some might argue that it is an individual right for someone to choose which school they can send their child to, they always fail to prove how an individuals interests (in this case) outweigh the greater interests of the general public and community. In America, while process is fueled on serving oneself and protecting one’s own personal interests, real progress is found on the thin line in between the two. In a theoretical experiment done by Julie Halpert in her 2018 article titled “What if America Didn’t Have Public Schools?”, she hypothesized which would be better for America: if every student had to attend private schools, versus public schools. In the first scenario, (an all-private-school one) the U.S. government paid strenuous amounts of money to ensure every American student could attend private schools; public good was destroyed in this option, as every individual private school desperately tried to make themselves so unique and unintelligible to the others, that it only resulted in unnecessary tension that wound up tearing communities apart. In the public school option, the opposite was true: the U.S. was able to boast a more robust, and high-performing educational atmosphere that included students of all backgrounds, whereas the latter would likely just make the best private schools only economically available to the richest students of America. Thus, since private schools are in their nature divisive and contrary to public good and community interests, the government should not support such institutions or sanction their existence in our country.
Lastly, on a nationwide scale, private schools are weakening the standard of American education as a whole, while destroying nationwide educational equality and quality overall. Indeed, the very fabric of private schools institution are inherently divisive and greedy, as they attract the best teachers and get the most private donations, whereas the increasingly low-paying job as a public school teacher has lowered the amount of good teachers at underserved schools. In Oklahoma, for example, there are upwards of 2,900 non accredited teachers trying to teach at underfunded public schools that have cut their entire school week from five days to four . This creates a significant barrier between the quality of education poor people can receive in America, versus the greedy hoarding of good teachers and quality resources for learning that private schools steal from the rest of America. If only the richest students can have the best resources, then it is inherently anti-American and hurts our educational standards nationwide, as the best and brightest from our poorest communities have less resources than the least intelligent and most laziest of the affluent in our countries.
In summary, private schools are inherently un-American because they are self-serving, not supporting the greater community of Americans, and they create a visible divide between the rich and the poor in America. Indeed, in our nation’s founding, only the richest could attend school and thus private schools represented a demographic of a small minority of particularly affluent people. Why then, knowing the selective and discriminatory roots of private school education, would one argue that the existence of public schools is fair? In American society, our leaders are constantly trying to find a democratic middle ground in between liberty and individual freedoms, and in this case, private schools are an aberration of the equality and liberty we hold dear in America. Sure, they are a technically a individual right, which means they should be outwardly illegal, as noted in the outcome of a 1925 Supreme Court case titled Pierce vs Society of Sisters , in which the Court decided that parents have the right to determine where their child will attend school. However, much like the laws and regulations surrounding gun ownership, drug usage, and other freedoms, private schools should be counterbalanced by increased funding in public schools so that there won’t be such a huge gap between the rich’s education, and the poor’s education. Only then, I promise you, will private schools be truly a virtuous American freedom, wherein both the interests of the community and the individual are met and supplied unbiasedly.
“Pierce v. Society of Sisters.” Wikipedia , Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Mar. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierce_v._Society_of_Sisters. “A Closer Look at Oklahoma's 4-Day School Week.” CBS News , CBS Interactive, www.cbsnews.com/news/a-closer-look-at-oklahomas-four-day-school-week/ . Eger, Andrea. “Teacher Shortage: Oklahoma Nearing 2,900 Non Accredited Teachers Working with Emergency Certification.” Tulsa World , 18 Dec. 2018, www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/education/teacher-shortage-oklahoma-nearing-nonaccredited-te achers-working-with-emergency-certification/article_423913ac-a14a-5033-883a-e455a030b3c8. html . Halpert, Julie. “What If America Didn't Have Public Schools?” The Atlantic , Atlantic Media Company, 4 Mar. 2018, www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/03/what-if-america-didnt-have-public-schools/552 308/ .
by Donald Derby
Advice from a Middle Schooler
My opinion of middle school
Your first year may be pretty confusing but just stay on track and focus on school.
You struggle may with relationships but you just have to move past it.
To survive middle school you have to be flexible,creative,innovative.
Adapt to change is one thing you have to do - plan and organize work for the future.
I hope you make good choices