/ By Kurian Thomas /
Are we showing up as our best citizen selves every day? What are our responsibilities as citizens of this country? I invite you to take a look at Sworn Again America, a project to revitalize citizenship that is related to Civic Saturday, a popular traveling civic ritual that will be offered as an Upswell workshop on Thursday, November 15, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.
Fetzer Institute staff recently participated in a Sworn Again America exercise, which basically addresses the question, What am I saying “yes” to as a citizen? It is based on the premise that when immigrants become U.S. citizens, they swear an oath. For those of us who aren’t immigrants, we may take the spirit of that oath for granted. As such, if we paused and considered our citizenship, we might take a similar oath as a sort of “renewing our vows” to America—similar to how a married couple might approach renewing wedding vows. As a Fetzer staff, we took this oath:
I pledge to be an active American
to show up for others
to govern my self
to help govern my community
I recommit myself to my country’s creed
to cherish liberty
as a responsibility
I pledge to serve
and to push my country:
when right, to be kept right;
when wrong, to be set right
Wherever my ancestors and I were born,
I claim America
and I pledge to live like a citizen
Following our short session on this pledge, staff who participated remarked on the power of this exercise—of being together, of taking the oath to heart, and of saying it out loud. Some shared moving stories of attending naturalization ceremonies and the beauty of citizenship being strengthened through ritual, taking an oath, and of bonding and bearing witness together.
On your way to Upswell, I invite you to find a colleague, a friend, or relative, and together, take the Sworn Again Oath. Then commit to gathering with fellow citizens of goodwill at Civic Saturday on November 15, where Citizen University founders Eric Liu and Jená Cane will help Upswell attendees take a deeper dive into American “civic religion” and our creed of liberty, equality, and self-government that truly unites us. I hope to see you there!
Kurian Thomas is a program director at the Fetzer Institute.