Theft rates are at an all time high. Vandalism and defacement of public property happens on a daily basis. Murder is now commonplace on the evening news. It seems as though no one really cares or really knows what it means to be a good citizen anymore. You can teach your family the importance of being a good citizen. It means respecting others and making sure they always feel like they belong, making the community in which you live safe and peaceful, and keeping the laws of the land. Your efforts may be small, but even small works can have a great impact on your community.
“Each Life that Touches Ours for Good” (Hymns, 293)
Place a candy bar or treat into a drab-looking bag. Fill a box with dirt and wrap it in beautiful wrapping papers and bows. Don’t tell anyone the contents of the bag and box.
Have someone in the family read Articles of Faith 12–13: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
What does it mean to be subject to someone or something? Look again at twelfth Article of Faith. Discuss what this means and brainstorm why it is included in the Articles of Faith. Discuss loyalty to country and when it is appropriate to oppose government issues about which you don’t agree. Discuss why being loyal to your country would help you become a better citizen.
Look at Articles of Faith 12–13 again. Discuss how these two verses relate. Talk about the importance of seeking after honest and praiseworthy government leaders. One of the most important rights we have as citizens is the right to vote and make our opinion on government vocal. Discuss the importance of voting and what an important responsibility it is to stay involved in current issues. Discuss the dangers of being ignorant to government policies and new bills.
Bring out the drab bag and beautifully wrapped box. Ask your family which one they would rather have. (They will most likely choose the box.) Have someone open the box and show the dirt inside. Then have someone open the bag and pull out the treat. How does this relate to knowing about the leaders you vote for? Discuss the importance of having knowledge about all aspects of an issue before making your decisions.
If there is an upcoming local election in your community, talk about the platforms of the local candidates.
Keeping Your Community Peaceful
One important aspect of being a good citizen is keeping your community peaceful and safe for those who live in it. Discuss how to report crimes of theft or vandalism if they take place in your neighborhood.
Make a list of emergency phone numbers and keep it in a safe, easy-to-reach place. Discuss how in your home you can create a peaceful atmosphere that will improve your community.
This recipe for cutout sugar cookies will be an instant hit in your family and can be used for every occasion. Have everyone think of different shapes that constitute being a good citizen: the country’s flag, street signs, tools, etc. Cut out and decorate your “good citizen” cookies.
Cutout Sugar Cookies
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
6 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 ½ tsps baking powder
Butter cream icing (below)
Line cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In large mixingr bowl, cream sugar, shortening, and eggs. Add milk, vanilla, and lemon extract; mix at low speed. In separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to sugar mixture until well blended. Roll out 1/8-inch thick; cut into desired shapes. Bake at 400ºF for 6 minutes, being careful not to over bake. Cookies should be light golden brown around the edges. Frost with butter cream icing. Makes 5 to 6 dozen cookies.
Butter Cream Icing
¾ cup butter
¾ cup shortening
4 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ tsps lemon juice
1 ½ tsps vanilla
½ cup water
Food coloring (optional)
In large mixer bowl, combine butter, shortening, and powdered sugar; beat until very creamy. Add lemon juice and vanilla; mix until well blended. Add water and mix until very light. If desired, divide the icing into different bowls and add food coloring to make a variety of colors to decorate your cookies.
With Just One Voice
There are plenty of ways your family can practice being good citizens in your home or community. Small efforts can go a long way. Here are a few ideas:
- Create a neighborhood watch in your community.
- Attend a workshop or meeting about good characteristics you want to build.
- Get a copy of the U.S. citizenship test and see if your family can pass.
- Read government documents.
- Study how your government functions.
- Write a thank you card to a local or national leader. Tell him or her how much you appreciate his or her service in your country, or discuss your views on the latest issues.
- Invite a new neighbor to dinner or dessert.