In the year 2009 January, U.S president Barrack Obama in his inauguration speech said many things that touched on the issue of citizenship. That which citizenship entails has been like a mystery to many. Citizenship appears like some sort of amorphous and complicated concept that cannot be assigned a clear-cut definition. Even so, the duties, rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship are the things that describe what citizenship is (Benninga & Quinn, 105). In his speech, Obama mentions the spirit of service among citizens. He emphasizes this point and goes ahead to give the illustration of a fire fighter trying to salvage life and property of the citizens. According to Obama, all citizens have the duty to serve. He refers to it as the duty to serve the nation and offer services in the best interest of the public. In his speech, the president clearly states that the destiny of the country is determined by the determination and faith of the American people. This paper compares Obama’s view on citizenship with the views put across by our course outline.
Obama says that all citizens have duties and responsibilities to themselves as individuals, to their sovereign state as well as to the world at large. From this statement, it is clear to see that the president upholds responsibility among the citizens. He expects all citizens to dedicate their potential to the well-being of the nation. He encourages input by all people to make easy a difficult task. Again here Obama is seen to uphold the spirit of teamwork among the people. The president’s speech describes him as the son of a man that could have served the nation in the smallest way, not because he was not willing but because the society could allow him due to the discrimination that existed back then. What Obama is trying to put across to the American people is the point that all Americans should be treated equally because the potential in each individual is unseen but could impact greatly on the prosperity of a nation.
The views of president Obama on citizenship can as well be compared by the second definition of citizenship from our course material. Citizenship is the right to reside, hold some occupation and participate in the process of determining the political future of the country (Shklar, 96). This definition has been criticized as being incomplete as it does not address the link between the country and individuals. Even so it can possibly be compared to the views of the president in his inauguration speech. The statement that he is the son of a man that could serve the country in the least capacity; and that he is now president means or rather implies that everyone as long as they are citizens of the United states has the right to work in any capacity within the borders of the country as long as they are competent. It also means that despite him being the son of a once worthless person, here he is trying to shape the political future of the country.
In my view citizenship apart from being registered by the government agencies as being affiliated to a country, entails the spirit of patriotism, the urge to work hard to see the country develop and become a world leader and the willingness to serve. Citizenship in my opinion entails a situation of peaceful co-existence devoid of discrimination and prejudice; a state where the administration provides equal opportunities to all irrespective of color, gender or creed. It is no puzzle then, why my Opinion and that of President Obama can be compared and interpreted to mean one and the same thing. This is because from Obama’s speech he condemns the discriminations and prejudices to which the people of his father’s time were subjected. He does not think that was good citizenship. The idea of patriotism is brought out in Obama’s words. He speaks of patriotism and loyalty.
Benninga, Jacques & Quinn, Brandy. Enhancing American Identity and Citizenship in Schools. Applied Developmental Science. 15.2 (2011): 104-110.
Shklar, Judith. American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. New York: Harvard University Press, 1991