Looking back on the year, we feel like we have been riding a high-speed roller coaster, turning us over and over and leaving us wobbly in our knees. While some were looking forward to the newly-elected president to shake things up, others were worried about what would happen next. Neither were disappointed.

Turmoil sprouts positive change

The political party of the current president seems to be shrinking. Twenty-three percent of voters 18-29 have switched parties. Older voters, like me, have left, too. And some Republican leaders are stepping up to voice concerns, indicating they may bolt to start anew.

Within our societal cyclone, movements begin with positive impact. #MeToo is a current, best example. Real change to end harassment and foster mutual respect is long overdue. In the next election, more women are running for office, another good shift. Add in corporate and state leaders stepping up to environmental initiatives – global and local – and another constructive shift advances. An example is, as the Federal government abandons the Paris Agreement, business leaders promise to abide and do their environmental part, as are several states and cities.

We pick-up the tattered threads and begin to weave. We search to find our citizenship soul.

Start with voting

As this year closes, revisiting what constructs our citizenship soul is worth our time. In every form of government, soulful citizens press change. In democracies like ours, freedom exists in which citizens can lead change. Other forms of government produce greater challenges for change-oriented citizens, like in Venezuela, yet we see how repressed citizens can foster significant change, like in the past example of Egypt’s Uprising.

Within our freedom, we cannot be lax, yet we are. The U.S. voter turnout trails other developed countries. Voting statistics is a measure of how we invest in the direction of our cities, states, and nation. Right now, we are about half-invested.

We can do better. To do so, we need to find our citizenship soul again.

citizenship soulSoul of our citizenship: Who are we?

While voting is just a sign of how well our citizenship soul is engaged, we need to look deeper into what revs up our spirited involvement and participation. We need to understand some differences in our choices.

Motivations: Do or Complain

We need to peer into our soul and ask:

  • Do we want to get involved for positive change?
  • Do we just want to complain about the stalemate?

Complainers will always exist, but we need to dig deep and understand what motivates us the most. More than this, we need to understand that complainers never change anything. It is against their mindset. If complaints disappeared, the complainers would lose their foothold.

Converting complainers into doers is a challenge. Keeping doers engaged is another. Issues are the ignition to both. Motivation to do starts with embracing the issues that matter.

Issues: Wide or Narrow

Too often, citizens focus on one or two issues at the expense of others. Narrowly focused issues keep us bound and lets character lapse. Only focusing on an issue or two is like a rotting apple. Eventually, it impacts our core.

Only focusing on an issue or two is like a rotting apple. Eventually, it impacts our core.


We don’t need to be involved in every issue, but we need a portfolio of issues that matter to us and to our communities. When we develop our issue portfolio, we can look for linkages between issues. For example, if education is one of our key issues, connecting this to poverty, jobs, and incentives broadens our focus of impact. No issue stands alone; there are always connections to others.

Exploring the connections and widening our viewpoint helps us recapture our citizenship soul. It also broadens how we move toward solutions of deeper, positive, and lasting impact.

Individual: Change Agent or Past Protector

Looking hard at ourselves is essential. Many of us revel in the past. We wish for the “good old days.” The good old days are a myth. They were never as good as we remember. Underlying issues and challenges were present in the past, too. We conveniently forget those parts in our stories.

We cannot protect the past. Change is always nipping at our heals. We can either get bitten or bite back in the way we want to see change have a more positive impact. Left alone, change will create gaps. Change agents understand the shifts and work to close gaps while producing a better use of transformations.

Community: Build or Divide

We Are the World” is a song that brought a diverse community together. In 1985, not only did it bring a diverse group of musicians together, it brought together many citizens from around the world to support Africa. A mission. A diverse community. An impact.

In our communities, we have a choice to divide or build. Divisions create smallness. Builders create bigness in thought and action. Building is positive momentum as inclusiveness grows. Without diversity, building becomes exclusive, and divisions grow.

Good builders collaborate widely and diversely to get the best talent and ideas for the best outcomes.

Future: Guide or Diminish

Finding the soul of our citizenship connects to our future. It doesn’t mean urban is better than rural, one nationality is better than another, or one generation is better than another. Quite the opposite. Finding our citizenship soul means we find the “and” rather than the “either/or.”

Guiding our future enlightens our soul and sparks action within others. Kinetic citizenship happens when we guide. Tearing down others dampens, discourages, and diminishes. Nothing good comes from disparaging groups or individuals.

We need to find our inner good soul guide again and lead with it.

Engaging our future citizenship soul

Next year will not be like last year or ten years ago. Next year is a new year with new changes. One change we need to ignite is finding our soul of citizenship. Too many gaps and unaddressed issues exist. Without soulful citizenship, the gaps will expand, and the issues will grow.

We need to:

  • Do more, complain less
  • Understand a portfolio of issues and start meaningful conversations and actions
  • Be a thoughtful change agent in our communities, states, and country
  • Build a better future by listening, understanding, and finding common ground
  • Guide others in positive ways, building each other up while always learning

A key metric of whether we are successful in finding our citizenship soul will be the primary and general election turnout. The actions we take between now and the next election matters in getting more individuals involved and active. We cannot wait our turn to vote, but we need to turn out to vote. We cannot wait to solve problems with new leaders. We must pursue solutions with the leaders we have and then support the ones that will engage progress that makes productive sense.

As we close out one year and turn to the next, let’s do the important work of being a citizen. No organization is exempt. We must find and renew our citizenship soul in our businesses and communities.

Our future depends on finding our citizenship soul, and it is up to you and me.


Photo by Swaraj Tiwari on Unsplash