The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged us to build the “beloved community” – a community of inclusion, justice and love. The Cultural Crossroads vision of mutual respect and a shared future imagines that “beloved community” – but we also recognize that there is a shared responsibility to achieve that future. With that in mind, Cultural Crossroads announces the creation of a new page on our website “Building Community” with links for organizations that will help you create that future. We firmly believe that most people want that community and will work to achieve that community. Check out our new page and let us know if you have other organizations and links that we should add.
This new enhancement to the Cultural Crossroads website is intended to encourage two mainstays of our American freedom: voting and volunteerism.
Because the basis of all civic participation is voting, the Building Community page begins with that topic: voter registration, how to register, how to volunteer to help others register to vote. It is an unfortunate fact of our times that the majority of US citizens do not vote and many are not even registered to vote. At Cultural Crossroads, we believe that voting is a responsibility, as well as a right, and we encourage all US citizens to exercise that right and fulfill that responsibility.
“We often talk about the preeminent position of the individual in American society, which reflects our thinking about how American society depends upon the individual. The position of the individual is, indeed, the basis of our law and our view of society. The Rule of Law is designed to protect the rights of the individual, not the rights of the majority (based on the obvious distinction that the majority is well-positioned to take care of itself, whereas the individual is in need of protection from that majority).
“It is less often and with less emphasis that we consider the role of the individual in American society — i.e., what is expected of the individual in return for that preeminent position? Thomas Jefferson famously referred to the role of an “educated electorate” in preserving our democratic ideals, but he further explained that such an educated electorate would thus be able to cast an educated vote. Even considering the narrow definition of “electorate” in his day, Jefferson probably never anticipated a situation where Americans, having the ability to vote, simply wouldn’t care enough to vote or to even register to vote.”*
The role of the individual citizen is not limited to voting. Volunteerism has a long and distinguished history in the United States. Psychological feeling of powerlessness may be the cause of a recent decline in volunteering. Even though the level of volunteerism has declined recently, statistics still show almost 44% of Americans report spending some time in volunteer work.
Volunteerism takes several forms, but all volunteerism works to improve our society. Whether you spend your free time greeting newcomers to your place of worship, serving meals to the hungry, registering new voters, building affordable housing or making phone calls on behalf of your favorite nonprofit, know that the hours you devote to betterment of our society make a real difference in our world.
We cannot build a new community by ourselves – it takes everyone working together to build a society that works for everyone!
*Some of this post is quoted from a post by Mary McCoy, President of Cultural Crossroads, in her personal blog, Balance Beams. The post in question is from Sept 15, 2017, entitled “Voting as an Act of Love.”