How many of us have received that unwanted letter in the mail informing us that our name has been drawn for jury duty and we are summoned to appear on a certain date at a certain time? Sometimes our names get drawn more than once per year. How some of you avoid ever having your name drawn is beyond me. I must admit I have never actually had to serve on a jury. I am not sure that it would be considered an honor to do my duty, but I feel it would be a privilege to serve. Everyone has the right to a fair trial in front of a jury of peers, and the letter to report is a court order. How fair is it that one person agrees to serve on the jury and another person finds an excuse not to? I wonder how hard it actually is for the courts to find enough fair and honest community members willing to do their duty.

Civic obligation, also known as civic duty, encompasses the federal, state and local laws that we must follow as law abiding citizens of our community. It is an action that a citizen of a country is required by law to perform. It is our responsibility to perform our civic obligations. Examples include obeying the laws, serving on a jury, registering to vote, and paying income taxes and other taxes honestly and on time. Everyone who lives in the United States, whether citizens or not, is expected to follow these rules. Registering to vote is required in order to vote in an election but it is not required by law that we vote. Voting, instead, is a civic liberty.

Military service is also a civic obligation of the citizens of a country. At times throughout history, military service in America has been mandatory. A draft is the mandatory enrollment of individuals into the armed forces. During the years when the draft was mandatory, a person who refused to perform this civic duty could be arrested. One example was Muhammad Ali when he refused to be drafted during the Vietnam War. He disagreed with the war and stated that serving in the military was against his religion. He was arrested. His conviction was later overturned, but the point is that he disobeyed the law by refusing. Draft veterans had no choice but did their civic duty and served their country. The American military today is an all-volunteer military and has been since 1973. Citizens are no longer obligated by law to join the armed forces, but all young men are required to register with the federal selective services when they turn 18 or within 30 days of their 18th birthday. It is their civic obligation.

A civic duty is a social responsibility expected from all the members of a society. The use of the term originated in 1787 when the government of the United States ratified the constitution and declared that the concept of a civic duty was that the citizens owed an allegiance to their government and that the government in turn would protect its citizens.

Respecting the rights, beliefs and opinions of others is another civic obligation that most of us tend to forget about. It is our responsibility to watch the news, read the newspaper, and stay informed of what is going on in our community, our state and our country. A well-informed citizen can make better decisions. We need to participate in the democratic process more by getting involved to either run for office ourselves, advocate for whom we feel is a good leader, or just by voting.

So, is the value of civic obligation worth keeping and nurturing in today’s society? Does it benefit us as Americans living in Paulding County? Everyone is expected to do their duty by obeying the laws, paying their fair share of taxes, serving on a jury or being a witness in a trial, and respecting the rights, beliefs and opinions of others. I will do my civic duties to benefit my community. If we all commit to doing the same, we will make our community a better place to live. Thank you for being a responsible citizen, for performing your civic duties and for serving your community.