It's a new year and the time for resolutions. But this year is different than the last. In just a couple weeks the 45th US president will be inaugurated, which highlights the important role our country's citizens play.
At the MCA, we strive to inspire a sense of civic engagement and responsibility in our public, to provide the experiences that continually reawaken us to a fresh consideration of the world and people around us, and the lives we live. Beyond the museum, there are many ways that our visitors can exercise their civic role every day. Here are some ways our staff are resolving to be better citizens in 2017.
1. Listen more
The United States has a uniquely diverse population. In order to thrive, we all need to cultivate tolerance and a willingness to engage other viewpoints, and this requires that we respect others in conversation. During a discussion between Gloria Steinem and Page May for the 2016 Chicago Humanities Festival, May gave this bit of advice: once you’ve spoken, listen while three others have their say before you speak again (see 31:49).
If you can, help take care of your community and country by giving to organizations that are doing the work that you are passionate about (even a few dollars help!).
A great way to invest in your community is to get involved personally, whether it's serving food at a local food kitchen, spending time with a child in a mentorship program, or helping lead activities at a museum. If you're looking for ideas, visit VolunteerMatch.org or, for those in the Chicago area, Chicago Cares.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
4. Stay informed
Read local, national, and global news from a trusted news source regularly and critically … if it sounds too good to be true, it just might be.
5. Read more in general
When I think about how I understand my role as citizen … the most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels. It has to do with empathy. It has to do with being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of grays, but there’s still truth there to be found, and that you have to strive for that and work for that.
—President Barack Obama