The privileges and responsibility of citizenship

31 Oct

But first, as I write this, it’s Halloween evening. We’ve had just a trick(le) of treaters, even though it’s not raining tonight. It’s getting harder to anticipate what we’ll be getting in terms of visits from one year to the next, as parents increasingly seem to favor the safe confines of organized Halloween parties. Evening quietly settles into the house, and I find myself nostalgic for the homemade Halloween treats that I received as a child but can’t give out today:  warm brown-edged cookies, wax paper wrapped popcorn balls, and crisp, though under-appreciated apples. It’s not considered safe anymore, so we hand out tiny hermetically sealed bits of mass produced sugary gunk. I won’t say I haven’t popped a couple of tootsie rolls myself tonight, but I feel bad that this is all I can offer to other people’s children, to our children. I’m sad about the privatization and commoditization of a community celebration with ancient roots. Fortunately, my spirits were buoyed this morning. . .

This Halloween morning, I read a remarkable op-ed article in The Oregonian by Sergio Cisneros, a young Latino college student. Headlined “Rethinking jury duty and other civic responsibilities“, it was initially about one person’s desire to avoid jury duty, which apparently is a common thing (I wrote about it here earlier this year). But the author went on to argue that as being a citizen and acting like a citizen have become disconnected, there are troubling policy implications. I found myself smiling to hear the words of such an articulate and thoughtful young leader emerging, and wishing I could have been so wise so young!  His words are especially timely as election day nears. His optimism is uplifting.