Because according to this book, I sure as hell ain't.
My parents picked up this little gem for a quarter at a yard sale. It has provided us with hours of entertainment. Let's take a look at it, shall we? First of all, can anyone guess what year this book was written and published?
If you said 2001, you're correct!
I particularly like how the author gets oddly specific with that last bulletin.
Now, you might be wondering why anyone might write a book about good citizenship in the year 2001. From the introduction:
Today good citizenship means less to us. We worry far more about our demons than our duties. According to a 1995 U.S. News and World Report column by John Leo, entitled "The Unmking of Civic Culture": "Starting in the 1960's, the nation's sense of itself has been deeply influenced by the rapid spread of therapies, encounter groups, self-help, the language of self-esteem and personal grown and an array of New Age notions, some of them quasi religions based on the primacy of self... This culture of therapy has positioned itself as the antidote for America's fragmentation and the decline of civic culture." We belong to fewer civic groups, vote less, and spend more time doing things by ourselves, for ourselves. No wonder it feels like everything's going to Hell.
Wait a second....
Apparently the advice she culled from self-help experts didn't actually help her. So instead she chose outdated government pamphlets about how to brush your teeth. Lady, I'm pretty sure that the problems you have in life will not be solved by saying the pledge of allegiance. But yet, here is this book.
Apparently, being a good citizen starts with living healthy as an individual. Here are some of my favorite points from the list of things to do to live said healthy life:
- 2. Take a bath daily, a cold bath in the morning if the body reacts satisfactorily; warm cleansing baths at least twice a week.
- 7. Have a bowel movement at a regular time every morning.
- 15. Take at least two glasses of milk every day, as a beverage or in cooked food.
- 16. Drink no tea or coffee.
- 21. Sleep nine to ten hours every night.
- 30. Protect yourself by the preventative measures against diphtheria (the Shick Test and toxin-antitoxin).
Fuck America, you can't take my imported tea and coffee from me. I NEED IT. Because who sleeps 9 to 10 hours a night!? I certainly don't. We're all terrible citizens for our caffeine addictions. Instead, this book really stresses drinking milk. I hate milk. At least I'm doing really well at avoiding diphtheria, like literally everyone else in an industrialized nation past the new millennium.
The healthy living section also stresses the importance of eating meat. Here's all the reasons they provide for eating meat:
This is literally it. There is no other information about meat other than this vaguely threatening page, and one other illustration that lists it as part of a "fit" diet, which also obviously includes milk.
In the next section, it talks about how to be a good citizen in your family. It talks about family order and how if everybody does their chores, everyone will be happy!
Gee, I didn't realize that reverting back to rigid gender roles would make society better! I guess feminism happened because women got bored or something.
I'm just gonna leave this picture right here, because I'm still not entirely sure what the meaning of it is. I can't tell if these things are supposed to be good or bad things.
Next, you have to be a good citizen in your neighborhood, namely by not having a shitty looking house, throwing block parties, and not abusing animals:
That's one creepy ass dog. I still don't understand why the author was so specific about the neighbor's dog. She never explains it, or really anything else in the book for that matter. It's just a book of "don't do this, do this", with little to no reasoning behind it. Look lady, if you want us to eat all that meat because it's all domestic, why not just say "you'll be a better member of your community by trying to buy locally grown food, because you'll be supporting other people in the community and keeping yourself healthy in the process." And we have to follow scouting materials from the 1930's why, exactly? How is much of this information really pertinent to today's issues? Couldn't you have... I don't know, updated some of this information for at the very least the beginning of the new millennium?
The best picture of the entire book, however, is this one:
The Drunkard. His kids are all on their way to a Dickensesque orphanage. He's not a good citizen, clearly. Let's get rid of all the alcohol, because that's the cause of bad citizenship, definitely not because of societal forces like poverty, racism, and sexism!
My parents and my boyfriend's dad took one look at this and saw right through it. They lived in dysfunctional families who still followed these "good citizenship" guidelines and still had fucked up childhoods. I'm going to guess that these kinds of rules aren't actually going to solve society's problems.
But damn if this book isn't hilarious.