Thursday, July 17, 2008

Citizen or Resident?

Just so you all know. I'm not happy with this post. It's not the most coherent. There are underlying meanings to some things that I don't think I communicated effectively. I've got serveral ideas muddled together here. But it's been struggling with me all day now and I thought that maybe if I just posted it I could gain a better perspective on it and fix it.

"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
Theodore Roosevelt
in a letter to the president
of the American Defense Society
January 3, 1919

A comment on my Stagecoach post by Carteach0 got me thinking. Thinking on the meaning and differences between being a citizen and being a resident.

A quick browse through my dictionary and a few online ones showed me something. On the surface they both mean living somewhere. Both the following definitions below are from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (because I like copy/paste verses having to type them out).

  1. an inhabitant of a city or town; especially : one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman
  2. a: a member of a state
    b: a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it
  3. a civilian as distinguished from a specialized servant of the state

  1. a: living in a place for some length of time : residing
    b: serving in a regular or full-time capacity; also : being in residence
  2. present, inherent
  3. not migratory
But, citizen carries an underlying meaning of owing allegiance to the place you live. By owing allegiance to that place you become entitled to certain services that place can provide such as a common defense. A resident, conversely, while living there isn't entitled to those services because they owe no allegiance to that place.

Have we become a nation of residents? We seem to have a growing entitlement mentality, but no corresponding allegiance to support it. One thing I notice living abroad for several years was we americans were the only country that identified ourselves by another country. The Scots were scottish, Welsh were welsh, French were french, etc. We, on the other hand are German-American, or Arab-American, or... Well, you get my meaning.

Maybe we should be calling ourselves American.

But I digress.

People, for some reason, want to enjoy the benefits of citizenship, but not be subject to the allegiance. Can there be citizen-residents? I'd think that there can't be. Someone might say that it's a redundancy, but I'd say they are an oxymoron, mutually exclusive terms. You can't be both. And I'd go further to say that when you identify yourself as an hyphenated american you're trying to do just that. I'm not saying that you should lose or deny your heritage, but ask yourself this. Are you exalting your heritage to the exclusion of being an American? Is your pride in heritage stopping you from doing any sort of assimilation into America? Ultimately, are you proud or ashamed to be living here?

Remember for every benefit you take from citizenship, someone had to pay something in to provide for that. It may have been a grandparent on the beaches of Europe, or a parent working in an election campaign office, or a brother or sister over in the sands of the middle east. It could be something as massive as laying down your life to protect someone from a criminal or something as simple as just holding down a job.
If you think the world, the government, or someone "owes you a living" ask yourself what you've done to earn it.


Home on the Range said...

I have a friend who I just think the world of, but they were complaining in that their "tax stimulus" check wasn't big enough.

This person is NOT a citizen, and has absolutely NO plans to be, though they work legally in and pay taxes in the US.

I, on the other hand, a US citizen did NOT get a rebate check because I make too much money. MY money went to the non citizens and others like that.

Who complain.

I REALLY had to bite my tongue.

aepilot_jim said...

I'm almost ashamed to say I got a "stumulus" check. I took that thing and rushed right out and plunked it into my savings. I'm thinking of moving it over to a CD or MoneyMarket acct. But I'm definately not spending it if at all possible. Does that make me a bad man?

Carteach said...

Dang it Jim! *I* started writing a post on this subject, with the same title! I'll still write and post it, but get out of my head. It's getting crowded in here!

aepilot_jim said...

Hey, you started me Carteach. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.