Being a citizen and being a good citizen are far from the same thing. Being a good citizen and exhibiting signs of good citizenship is far removed from the legal distinction of being a citizen of one country or another. In fact, people who are technically not citizens of a country may exhibit all the signs of good citizenship not found in many of those who hold the country's passport.
CommunityCommunities are vital to culture's and country's proper functioning. A much-lamented facet of modern society is the lessening of community ties - how communities where once everyone knew everyone else are now becoming places where no one knows their neighbours and people go about their business without passing the time of day without each other. But in communities where good citizenship is evident, local ties flourish and people come together - both in bad times and in good. People who help out elderly neighbours, people who help to organise the local school's summer fete - these are people who exhibit signs of good citizenship. The youngsters who wash cars in the neighbourhood and sign Christmas carols at old people's homes at Christmas are too people who exhibit good citizenship.
VolunteeringOften called the third sector, volunteering is becoming increasingly important and is worth millions of pounds to the UK's economy. People who volunteer exhibit many many signs of good citizenship. There are many different ways of volunteering - and everyone makes an impact. From the people who work an afternoon a week at a local charity shop to people who raise thousands of pounds for charity on epic challenges, volunteers are widely regarded and of huge importance. Volunteers are good citizens for the simple reason that they give back to the community without taking anything away. Many people say that they enjoy the work they do - but it can still often be tough going. Think of people who man the phone lines at organisations such as the Samaritans - it can be thankless and heartrending work at times, but these people add an invaluable service to our community.
Public SectorOf course, not all jobs which are for the greater good of the community can be carried out through volunteering. Many people who are employed in public service can also be described as good citizens for their hard and selfless work for the greater good of others. Doctors who perform delicate and virtually miraculous operations on a daily basis are good citizens, as are the nurses who tend their patients. But more than this - the people who truly have thankless jobs. The people who clean our schools and hospitals and those who cook food for elderly people -without whom, they would not see anyone else and would not eat properly.
Of course, good citizenship cannot just be about the jobs we do - paid or unpaid. Good citizenship is more than this. Good citizenship should be evident in everything we do and say. We should all strive to be good citizens in our words and actions - smiling at people in the street and thanking the shopkeeper as he or she hands us our change are both small examples of how we can be better citizens. Above all, good citizenship is about putting the needs of the community and the needs of others above oneself's own preferences.