The need and desire to strengthen democracy and justice has led to the expansion of civic engagement. This is after along period of loosely defined civic movements that were promoted, to some extent, by leading figures such as Karl Marx, Derek Douglas, Sir Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Che Guevara and Mahatma Gandhi. The civic engagement processes are driven by the principles of engaging the whole society in deliberative dialogues with the main aim of community building. It is through deliberative dialogues that activities promoting peaceful coexistence in the society can be nurtured based on the foundation of conscious thoughts and actions. Civic engagements and conscious thoughts eradicates social problems, thus reducing crime rates (Levine 73). Therefore, it is imperative that the society can be improved through civic engagements, which becomes vital in reducing crime rates and promoting peaceful coexistence and understanding between the citizens themselves, the citizens and the criminal justice systems.
The key ideas on how to use civic engagements to reduce crime rates in the society as discussed in the paper are partly influenced by the claims made by the above named personalities, in relation to civic engagement. Considering that these personalities were leading figures, their actions and thoughts were of immense influence either negatively or positively on civic engagements. The claims made by these personalities in relation to civic engagements are discussed below.
John F. Kennedy came to power at a time when Americans were economically deluded, and their trust in government was on an alarming decline. In changing this view, Kennedy claimed that the people of America would only save their country through participatory democracy (civic engagement). Americans had to involve themselves in running their country and shun bureaucracy, whereby government activities and community building were left for a few people. In this regard and by the influence of Kennedy, Congress made public proceedings both on the floor and in committees. Rules were implemented that opened up and expanded judicial processes to give the public access to courts. Additionally, new Legislations based on Kennedy’s claims on civic engagement were implemented to ensure that bureaucratic processes were opened up to the public and their participation guaranteed.
Derek Douglas, an attorney who has served as President Obama’s senior adviser on urban policy, claimed that it is through civic engagements that crucial issues in America’s cities and metropolitan areas can be achieved. He claimed that through civic engagement, communities are able to enter into partnership with mayors and governors in developing states and cities, as well as reducing crime rates. Civic engagement would lead to neighborhoods revitalization, structuring of sustainable communities (affordable housing, affordable transportation, urban health, public safety k-12 education and entrepreneurship), as well as private-public partnerships (Levine 109). Douglas envisioned that civic engagement would revitalize the society by tackling issues such as youth violence, urban health, economic and community development.
Karl Marx opposed the idea of civic engagement by claiming that it would be a path to hegemonic conflict between a state and its citizens. The ideological contests would be used by marginalized group to promote their own selfish interests at the expense of the state and the population at large. He, therefore, supported the complete use of rule of law, whereby citizens would not be given any chance to contribute to the society development. The concept promoted by Marx promoted authoritarian rule whereby the government had its own way without objections from the citizens.
Mahatma Gandhi claimed that civic engagement was crucial in building solidarity, focus and long-term commitment to a given cause. He advocated for the use of civic engagement as a non-violent way of engaging those in power. These unconventional ways would be used to create social relationships between those in power and the powerless and an understanding among the powerless.
Considering that civic engagement promotes participation by all parties, it would be the best platform of ensuring law enforcers and citizens combine efforts towards the eradication of crime. This would be crucial considering that the public would be more willing to relay crucial information to the law enforcement officers. Policies that are implemented by law enforcement officers would also be met with credibility if they would be initiated by the help of civic engagement (Lee and Bartkowski 22). The public would be more willing to participate in community policing, as well as, reporting criminal activities to law enforcement officers.
Civic engagement is a cornerstone to the implementation of democracy whereby the public are more involved in the affairs of a given community. Personalities such as John F. Kennedy, Sir Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi have supported these arguments through their claims on civil engagement. In relation to crime rates, civic engagement is crucial in ensuring that the citizens of given community combine resources and efforts in eradicating crime. Civic engagement offers a platform for law enforcers and the public to work together in eradicating crime.
Lee, Mathew and Bartkowski, John. ‘Civic Participation, Regional Subcultures, and Violence:
The Differential Effects of Secular and Religious Participation on Adult and Juvenile
Homicide.’ Homicide Studies, 8.1 (2004): 5-3.
Levine, Peter. Reforming the Humanities Literature and Ethics from Dante through Modern
Times. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.