As a citizen of the United States you are given an incredible gift — citizenship in a stable, affluent democracy. In return, you have two duties as a citizen: 1) Vote, and 2) jury duty. Sadly, most people don't even vote, even though so little is asked of us. Even if you are feeling jaded and cynical, and feel your vote won't make a difference, you should still do it. As for jury duty, it's amazing how many people try to get out of it. Although not perfect, our justice system is pretty wonderful and fair. But without citizen support it's not going to function.
Now, while I'm proud to be an American, I'm even more proud to be an Earthian. I think we live on an incredibly beautiful planet and we have a duty to protect and preserve it. So, here are a few simple duties that I suggest for Earth citizenship:
- Always be a peacemaker, starting with your own relationships, your family, your friends, government, and countries.
- Acknowledge everyone as your brother or sister, and every animal as your pet.
- Always work toward the goal of zero impact on the Earth. The goal should be to leave your planet in better condition than the way you found it.
I think of the United States as just one state among many. We are no better or worse than any other country. We all have our problems. When I hear talk about "American Exceptionalism," I just want to barf over this silly arrogance. We are all equal and we are all one.
Saving the Planet
Should we do this to save the Earth? I mean, the Universe is a cold and indifferent place. Who's really going to care if we make the Earth uninhabitable. And I recently read that there are 100 estimated Earth-like planets in our galaxy. So, what's the big deal if some locust-like species destroys one? And should we do this to save the human species? Naw. What happened to all those big woolly mammoths 10,000 years ago? No one knows for sure, but that's right about the time when humans discovered agriculture. I'm not suggesting a coincidence, I'm just saying that species are always coming and going. Who in the Universe is going to miss us when we are extinct? So, ultimately, the reason that we should be good Earth citizens is because it is right, moral, and just. We owe it to our children to give them just as beautiful and clean a world as we had. It's only fair. We also owe it to the millions of animal species that we co-exist with. That's where the "right," "fair," and "moral" part comes in.
Every time you jump in a car you are putting carbon and smog into the atmosphere. This stuff doesn't go away. Many items that you throw in the garbage will take 500 or more years to decompose. Every herbicide and pesticide you put in your lawn goes into the ground. Every chemical you flush in your toilet goes somewhere, especially if you have a septic system. Slowly, by the death of a thousand cuts, we are poisoning our home — the air, water, and soil. We created this highly technological society to make our lives easier, and all we've succeeded in doing is slowly killing ourselves. STOP, don't flush that old prescription down the toilet — the filters at the water plant won't get it out. STOP, it's not necessary to have a chemical-soaked golf course lawn. Let it go back to nature. STOP, you don't really need that cigarette. START bringing those reusable bags to the grocery store. It's just a collection of small behavior changes, done collectively, that can make a massive difference in the wellbeing of our planet. Think about it.
If we're destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there's got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that. — Ellen DeGeneres