Civic duty. It’s a phrase you hear all the time during the build up to an election; a phrase used to describe why citizens are obligated to vote. But now that Chicago is a week removed from an election, “civic duty” pleas will vanish and you’ll no longer be reminded that you’re part of a community. Thank you for voting, feel free to resume your insular lives.
This is not the train of thought at Man Up Chicago. Typically, we are hesitant to stack the soap box on our high horse. Extreme preachiness is not priority here. But we also view civic duties to be a year-round obligations. With that in mind, we will present Chicago civic duties on this site every so often. And while the phrase “civic duty” encapsulates many things about living in a city, there is one axiom that can be used to sum up what this duty entails: Be aware of your surroundings. Or to be more exact:
-If you’re a tagger, take some art classes. Or at least write your name or gang affiliation legibly. The world doesn’t need anymore semi-literate taggers with shitty penmanship.
-Drive like pedestrians exist: This is a city where bipeds take advantage their finest evolutionary trait. They are crossing at stop signs. They are crossing at lights. So if you’re driving a car and you’re at a stop sign, or trying to turn right or left at a traffic light, look for pedestrians. They are not gnats who can be conveniently ignored. They will not fly away as you inch closer to them, or happily swerve around you as you block crosswalks. They are acutely aware of your existence. And next time they see you, they could be in a car that could crush yours like its monster truck fodder.
-Walk like automobiles exist (because they do): You don’t get to traipse obtusely in busy parts of the city. Walk with a purpose. Stop striding in front of cars that have a green left-turn arrow. Stop attempting to cross a street when it’s clear a traffic light will soon prevent you from having the right of way. You can jay-walk, but don’t inconvenience oncoming traffic when doing so. Pick your spots. When you’re a pedestrian in the wrong, you lose the right to act indignant when someone honks at you. Accept that you fucked up, move on, and be thankful you don’t live in a country where people could give a shit if they mow down pedestrians.
-Look up from your phone: We’ve all been guilty of texting (or using a smartphone app) and walking. But we shouldn’t do it on busy streets. People are trying to get to their destinations without zigzaging around others who can’t bother to look up from their phone. If you must walk around with your eyeballs glued to your Super AMOLED, Retina phone display, do it on an empty street. Preferably somewhere in Indiana.
-And on a very personal note, take care of your property. Especially if you own an empty lot on the corner of Ravenswood and Wilson. Especially if you put up a chain-link fence that now slouches onto the sidewalk like hurricane-ravaged palm tree. Respect your neighbors. Respect your land. Respect yourself. Or buy 20 acres outside of Cook county where you can set up eyesores out of everyone’s eyesight.
Have your own civic duties you’d like to share? Post them in the comments or email us.