Between December 2019 and January 2020 (just weeks before the pandemic), Smithsonian staff and their storytelling partners at the Peale, Baltimore, traveled to multiple states in the U.S. to ask residents of those states about voting experiences, the current state of American democracy, what issues brought them to the polls, how they made a difference in their communities, and what Americans' civic responsibilities were, among other complex questions.
Cassia Oliveira (00:00): Because we all live in a society, we all have rights and responsibilities. As a US citizen. Some basic responsibilities would be obey the law, pay taxes. And, and those are kind of basic, but I think the ones that really set us apart are the ones that we do in terms of respecting others and giving back to the community. I feel that when you are giving a lot, that it is actually our responsibility to share some of that wealth. And it doesn't necessarily should be in terms of money, right? It can be in terms of your time and what you can give back to your community. So for me, because I am an educator, I feel that one way that I can give back to my community is to educate them. Because in some ways I feel that ignorance can actually be lethal.
(00:55): So, you can actually save lives by, by educating individuals. And, uh, being able to educate college level kids is, is something that is very dear to me and I'm very grateful for that opportunity. Going back to the fact that I am a biologist, I actually feel that sometimes we need to stop and reflect on some of our other responsibilities. And for me, respecting our planet is actually something that I feel that many people don't even understand. We share the planet with millions and millions of other species, but at the same time, we are sometimes so selfish that we just destroy our environment. So for me, I actually feel that to be a good citizen is also to be able to respect our environment.
(01:51): And if we live in society, we need to respect each other. Yes, we can have different opinions, we can have different views, but we should all remember that we have basic responsibilities to one another. One issue that is also related in biology is that the issue with vaccines on how now we have this rise of people that are against vaccines, but again, we live in a society and if your free will is affecting the health of others, those that are most vulnerable, those that are sick, those that can't get vaccinated. In a way, I feel that that should also be a responsibility that we all, if we want to share the benefits of society, we need to pay our own duties in terms of our own responsibilities.
Asset ID: 2023.02.01.c-d
Themes: Civic Duty, Education, Teaching, Biology, Voting, Respect, Environmental Issues, Citizenship, Responsibility, Vaccines, Public Health
Date recorded: December 4, 2019
Length of recording: 0:02:46
Related traveling exhibition: Voices and Votes: Democracy in America
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Arkansas Humanities Council, Little Rock
More information or related assets: https://arkansashumanitiescouncil.org/voices-votes-democracy-in-america/