There seem to be a lot of “issues” around at the moment that roughly fall under the idea of citizenship.   The hands that are shooting up at the front probably want to point out that we are subjects, not citizens.  I think thats a bit of a disingenous point these days.  We have a constitutional monarch who fulfils her constitutional role of Head of State rather well.  And mostly stays out of view the rest of the time.  Unlike, say, a certain US President.  So lets go back to this thing called citizenship.

It sounds like a quaint idea from before we crowned the consumer and is definitely at odds with the “its my rights innit” brigade.   Whether its so-called anti social behaviour or the preference of the 10,000 mostly ethnically Pakistani men who annually reject all British women, preferring to import illiterate and vulnerable young brides, plenty of people clearly don’t want to play by the rules of citizenship.   That is to say accepting their own responsibilities towards and impact on the wider communities of which they are a part.

I’ve heared views expressed by people who living in places changing from homogenous whiteness to more mixed communities that they now feel out of place in their own neighbourhoods.   In particular hearing around them languages that they do not understand in the place of English can feel threatening.  To an extent I can understand. Language is intrinsically connected to culture and the sense of belonging that gives people their stake as a citizen.   Even simply losing a regional accent can be seen as betraying your roots.  The refusal by immigrants to learn English is a refusal to socialise with the rest of us.

I’m not sure though how far other complaints are about rejecting change per se.  My grandparents saw in their 84 year lifetimes the introduction of the pill, the introduction of cheap telecommunications and computers and the development of the NHS.  They also saw the aftermath of two world wars and dragged themselves out of real poverty.   The world moved on and they tried to keep up.   As citizens ourselves I think we too have a responsibility to stay a part of a world that is changing and different lives to which through globalisation we are more and more intricately connected.   Or as my grandparents might have said, there needs to be a bit of give and take on both sides.

Tackling the idea of social responsibility – the essence of citizenship – amongst born and bred miscreants might be harder. I’d rather see policies look at rewarding the people that comply though – whether it be paying your council house rent on time or ensuring your children hand in their homework – than that ignore this quiet majority.