21 Things a 21st-Century American Citizen Should Know

  1. We live in a world that is more interdependent than it has ever been before.The Earth from Space
  2. We live in a world that is plagued by economic inequality.
  3. In fact, we are no longer a middle-class country.
  4. We live in a world that is subject to many types of instability.
  5. The fact that I have the time to write about these things, and you have the time to read about them, and we both have the time to think about them, means that we are very LUCKY.
  6. In many places in the world, people live on $2.00 a day.
  7. 25% of the world’s deaths are due to diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, AIDS, and malaria.
  8. These people in other parts of the world — the poor and the dying — have no less capacity for intelligence and effort than we do.
  9. People in other parts of the world often do not succeed because they lack the things we take for granted, such as constant electricity, clean water, reliable transportation, stable government, and access to education.
  10. We should help children all over the world go to school. (Read here and here.)
  11. We should consider extending loans that change lives.
  12. We live in a country that may cease to be the dominant power in the world (see this book).
  13. Even if that is the case, it is still in our best interest to help build a good world.
  14. To do this, we need to act in a spirit of cooperation and give other countries the feeling that we are pulling for them (see #1).
  15. Creating a post-carbon future for ourselves with help us become a middle-class country again.
  16. American citizens should work to help ensure maximum energy efficiency within their own communities.
  17. American citizens need to do more than just vote because, even with the best person in the White House, there will be gaps that citizens can fill by giving of themselves in some way.
  18. We need to elect a President with an agenda for an interdependent, stable, and sustainable future — who will work on that agenda each and every day.
  19. We need to elect a President who will pass sweeping energy and health care bills during his or her first 100 days in office.
  20. We need to elect a Congress that will extend and/or make permanent the tax credits for alternative energy.
  21. We need to work to create systems that turn people’s good intentions into real change.

The above list is my humble attempt to paraphrase comments made by President William Jefferson Clinton during his lecture at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 17, 2008.

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