From Tasmania in the south to Scotland in the north stretches the readership of the New Era. From that readership come many interesting, provocative, and stimulating thoughts about citizenship and one’s duty to country.
The New Era queried representative young Latter-day Saints in seven English-speaking countries—variations on the flags of English-speaking nations are featured on this month’s cover. Here are some of the sentiments of the young people:
Do you think that a government should demand its citizens’ loyalty?
Girl, 21, Canada—“No. Such a demand would result in feelings of anger and resentment and would defeat its own purpose.”
Boy, 14, Canada—“Yes. If it can’t demand loyalty, then no one in society can feel mutual trust or security.”
Boy, 20, USA—“There is a big difference between demanding loyalty and deserving it. Ideally a country should deserve it.”
Boy, 15, Servicemen’s Stake—Europe—“A government that demands loyalty will only get surface loyalty; and when real loyalty is needed, it won’t be there.”
Girl, 15, Ireland—“Yes, but demand is not a good word. A better word is expect.”
Girl, 18, USA—“No. That’s like trying to make a person love you by force. Life isn’t like that.”
Girl, 17, Canada—“If a government demanded loyalty, I would be fearful of its moving from a democratic system to a police-state situation, where a gun would keep order, rather than the will and loyalty of the people.”
Girl, 22, Australia—“If a government didn’t demand loyalty, there would soon be no government.”
Do you feel your country owes you anything? What?
Boy, 15, Canada—“The right to worship and the right to work.”
Boy, 17, USA—“Protection.”
Girl, 17, Scotland—“A good education.”
Girl, 21, Canada—“My country has already given me all it owes me—freedom and opportunities.”
Boy, 15, Servicemen’s Stake—Europe—“My country owes me all the rights indicated in its constitution—which to me are the right to create and enjoy life and the right to raise a family.”
Girl, 13, New Zealand—“It owes me the right to help it improve.”
Boy, 19, USA—“Essentially, my country owes me the right to develop and pursue my eternal destiny. In the eternal sense, the country is of short duration. I’m going to be around for a long, long time—forever, I hope!”
What do you think you owe your country?
Boy, 15, Canada—“I owe my country and its citizens good deportment in maintaining our common ideals and mores of worth.”
Girl, 18, New Zealand—“I owe it my commitment to national values that are for the betterment of all.”
Boy, 22, USA—“I owe my allegiance to morally sound policies and my service—even my life—in time of desperate need.”
Girl, 18, Scotland—“My earnest effort and fair play to help repay her for my education, medical bills, and allowances that have kept me for eighteen years.”
Boy, 21, Canada—“Since I have received an education here and the opportunity to work, I owe it the commitment to stay here and work.”
Girl, 14, Australia—“I owe it the life of a good Christian.”
Girl, 16, England—“Affection and some sympathy—and always a disposition to assist.”
What do you like best about your country?
Boy, 22, Ireland—“The beauty, which is incredible. But at present the people make it hard to live here.”
Girl, 17, Canada—“The spaciousness. There are still places where man has not been.”
Girl, 12, Australia—“I love my country’s active growth.”
Boy, 14, Australia—“I like the thought of being free from wars.”
Boy, 15, New Zealand—“I like the friendship everyone offers me.”
Girl, 14, USA—“Its freedoms.”
Boy, 15, USA—“The thing I like best about my country is that I am one of its citizens.”
How would you change your country?
Boy, 13, Canada—“Provide more jobs for the uneducated.”
Boy, 15, Canada—“Disparity exists between some minority groups—I’d change that.”
Girl, 18, USA—“I’d put a stop to riots.”
Boy, 18, Scotland—“I feel our legal system is archaic in some ways, in need of revision.”
Girl, 18, Scotland—“I’d only change the weather.”
Boy, 21, USA—“Sure changes are needed. Aren’t they everywhere? All I know is that more of them need to begin with prayer.”
What are some ways in which you feel you could express good citizenship?
Girl, 21, USA—“Just not be a litterbug, for one thing.”
Boy, 20, USA—“Let’s face it—a good citizen votes intelligently, doesn’t criticize constantly, and, at least right now, does his bit to keep the environment clean.”
Girl, 17, England—“If I were to drop my prejudices, I’d be able to give concern to others. People act better when they’re treated better.”
Boy, 22, USA—“By encouraging honesty—in taxes, in judicious response to governmental leadership, and in the use of its resources.”
What is your reaction to voting at age 18?
Girl, 18, Canada—“I feel responsibility, and I want to use it to perpetuate the ideals and goals that will make my country even better for the next generation than it has been for me.”
Girl, 18, USA—“It scares me to think that I’ll be a part of the citizen voters. I’ll really have to study.”
Boy, 18, Servicemen’s Stake—Europe—“One thing for sure—you cannot vote wisely by just listening to your friends.”
Girl, 18, USA—“This is the time when most youth in the USA are finishing courses in civics and government. We should take those principles and apply them.”
Boy, 18, USA—“To tell the truth, I’m concerned. The youth on college campuses are so brainwashed by hearsay, popular opinion, radicalism—if this is any indication, I think it will be an emotional vote.”
Girl, 18, USA—“It’s going to be an interesting experience. I just hope the youth of the Church can learn to disagree at the ballot box but still love and appreciate each other as brothers and sisters in the gospel. Some people think that if we’re all members of the same church, we should all vote the same way. That’s stupid. We all think differently and are constructed differently—so why shouldn’t we look for different things in politics? Any Republican who cannot love a Democrat or vice versa just doesn’t know much about the gospel yet.”
When you see your flag or sing your national anthem, how does it affect you?
Girl, 14, Scotland—“It makes me go funny inside.”
Boy, 20, USA—“Sometimes the song brings tears to my eyes—for what it all represents.”
Girl, 19, Ireland—“I immediately think of the sovereign of the land. I respect her as my Queen and the figurehead of the people of the United Kingdom.”
Boy, 17, USA—“I had three brothers in the war last year. When I said the pledge of allegiance in school, it really meant something to me.”
Boy, 24, Canada—“I think of the words and realize that they represent ideals that my fellowmen consider important. I join with them in respect for those ideals.”
Do you think that there will ever be a worldwide government?
Boy, 22, New Zealand—“Any Mormon could answer that—yes, in the Millennium.”
Girl, 12, England—“Yes, when Christ comes.”
Boy, 19, Canada—“For the present, no. From observing the United Nations, it seems that neither the leaders nor the world’s peoples could handle a world government.”
Girl, 17, Servicemen’s Stake—Europe—“No. There is too much greed for power, and people are still too selfish.”
Boy, 15, USA—“There are too many divisions in cultural and political beliefs for one world government to succeed. But if everyone accepted the goals of the priesthood, then we could all unite.”
Girl, 18, USA—“No worldwide government can exist until an international consensus exists on value systems. To me, that’s the great hope of the gospel in terms of universal brotherhood. In the meantime, it gives me personal happiness.”
Girl, 20, USA—“Yes, when the Savior comes. But we live not knowing when that is; it could be years—even generations—away. So we all need to spread the ideals of peace for which Christ stands. That is the only hope for world understanding that any of us have in our present world condition.”