THE CITIZEN AND THE HOME.
From: The True Citizen How To Become One
The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.--Anon
The fireside is the seminary of the nation.--Goodrich
Early home associations have a potent influence upon the life of the
Nothing proves more ruinous to the State than the defective education
of the women.--Aristotle.
The sorest spot in our municipal and national condition, is the
decadence of the home idea.--G. H. Parkhurst
The fact that children are so long in growing up, and pass so many years
together under the care of their father and mother, is most important in
the history of the race. During this long period of growth in the home
they become fitted, as they could not in any other way, to take their
places in the larger world of men and women. If children remained with
their parents as short a time as the young of animals do, it is probable
that men would never have risen above the state of barbarism. The home
has been the great civilizer of the world.
The home is more than the family dwelling; it is the seat of the family
life; and the family life stands to the life of the nation in the same
relation as the index to the volume, or the expression of the
countenance to the feeling of the heart. Our Saxon race has been
distinguished from its historic beginnings for its love of personal
liberty, and is the only race that has ever been able perfectly to
realize this blessing in its highest and noblest form.
If the word home could be squeezed into the language of the savage, it
could have no such meaning for him as it possesses for us. The hut of
the savage is simply a place to eat in and sleep in. He selects no spot
on which to plant, and build, and educate. He claims to occupy so much
territory as will furnish him with subsistence, but his "home," if he
really has one, is in the forest, like the game he hunts. It is a fact
beyond dispute, that all migratory people are low down in the scale of
The homes of any people are the very beginnings of its progress, the
very centers of its law and order, and of its social and political
prosperity. They are the central points around which the crystallizing
and solidifying processes of national life and growth can alone be
carried forward. We do not give sufficient prominence to this fact, in
our estimate of the forces which build up our national life. We
recognize art and science, agriculture and industry, politics and
morality; but do we realize, as we should, that, beneath all these, as
the great foundation rock upon which they all must rest, lies the home.
Or, to change the figure, the homes of our people are the springs out of
which flow our national life and character. They are the schools in
which our people are trained for citizenship; for when a young man
leaves the paternal roof, his grade and quality as a citizen is, as a
rule, fully determined.
The training of a good citizen must begin at the cradle, and be
continued through the plastic period of boyhood and carried forward by
his parents, until the youth crosses his native threshold to act his
part and assume his responsibilities in the broader field of his own
The home life of New England has been the most potent force, in the
building of this great nation. The homes of our Puritan ancestors were
really the birthplaces of these United States. What then was the
character of these homes? They were simple and even rude, as considered
externally--and especially when contrasted with the homes of the New
Englanders of to-day. But within, there was love and loyalty, reverence
and faith. In the early homes of New England there were so many strong
fibers running from heart to heart, and knitting all together,--and so
many solid virtues woven into the daily life,--that their influence has
done much to make our nation what it is.
A young man trained in such a home, will usually become an example of
sobriety, industry, honesty, and fidelity to principle. He will be felt
to be part of the solid framework which girds society and helps to keep
it healthy,--a kind of human bank, on which the community may draw to
sustain its best interests, and to promote its noblest forms of life.
The home is the birthplace of true patriotism; and a true patriotism is
one of the first and most important characteristics in the upbuilding of
any nation. It is not the wild plebeian instinct that goes for our
country right or wrong, which forms the real element of our strength.
Love of country, to be a real help and safeguard, must be a sentiment
great enough to be moral in its range and quality. Neither the power of
numbers, nor mere oaths of allegiance, will suffice. Patriotism always
falls back upon the home life and the home interests for its inspiration
and its power.
Whatever crosses the threshold to desolate the hearth, touches to the
quick one of the strongest sentiments of our nature. The old Latin
battle cry, "For our altars and our firesides," is still the most potent
word which can be given to our soldiers, as they advance upon the foe;
and the man who will not go forward, even to the death, for these, is
rightly counted as little better than a slave.
If you want a man upon whom you can rely in the hour of the nation's
peril, select the man who loves his home; for in proportion as he loves
his home, will he love his country which has protected it.
We therefore repeat that the homes of the people are the secret of our
country's greatness. Acres do not make a nation great. Wealth cannot
purchase grandeur and renown. Resources, however great and wonderful,
cannot crown us with national honor and celebrity. The strength and
prowess of any land lies in the character of its citizens; and their
character depends largely upon the character of their homes.
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