We’ve all seen and experienced big acts of citizenship; an individual or corporation sponsoring a major project, event or undertaking. History is also littered with the stories of magnificent acts of contribution to the betterment of society. But I contend it is small acts of citizenship that are the true glue and measure of how civilized a society is.
Take the individual giving up their seat for another, often on public transport, I’ve witnessed it in crowded waiting rooms and other venues as well. Often, it’s for a senior, or a mother, or someone who just needs a break at that moment. It’s a beautiful act. An acknowledgment by one citizen to another that in that moment and in that small way the stronger provides reprieve to the person feeling too tired to stand.
Another small act of citizenship is not littering and, sometimes, going out of the way to clean up others’ litter. Anyone who has been to a developing country, outside the tourist zone, notices the garbage. Not only is this due to lack of municipal service, but also due to the population not believing they are citizens. Citizens feel ownership over their public spaces and participate in maintaining them. Calgary is a very clean city and I believe it’s because of our sense of ownership. Everyone wants to live in a clean and beautiful place and together we achieve that by not tossing out garbage in the streets.
One is easily dwarfed by the significant contributions of others in making our City great, but it is our everyday acts that make our city consistently one of the most livable and highly rated in the world.