WHAT CONSTITUTES GOOD CITIZENSHIP.





MEMORY GEMS.



A great nation is made only by worthy citizens.--Charles Dudley Warner



Nothing is politically right that is morally wrong.--O'Connor



The noblest principle in education is to teach how best to live for

one's country.--G. T. Balch



The good citizen will never consent that his voice and vote shall

sanction a public wrong.--A. M. Gow



Let our object be, our country, our whole country, and nothing but

our country.--D. Webster





An old English picture represents a king, with the motto beneath, "I

govern all;" a bishop, with this sentence, "I pray for all;" a soldier,

with the inscription, "I fight for all;" and a farmer, who reluctantly

draws forth his purse, and exclaims with rueful countenance, "I pay for

all." The American citizen combines in himself the functions of these

four. He is king, prophet, warrior, and laborer. He governs, prays, and

fights for himself, and pays all expenses.



It is neither desirable nor possible, however, for men to be wholly

independent of one another. Their very nature reveals the fact that they

are intended to be associated in the bonds of mutual intercourse and

affection; and such forms of associated life we see all about us, in

the life of the family, the community, and the nation.



For a body of human beings to attempt to live together without regard

for each other's interests, would be certain to lead to confusion, if

not to disaster. There would be no security for life or property; no

recognized standard of values; no ready and certain means of

communication; nor any of the higher conveniences which mark the life of

our own land and age. That which is needed to insure these necessary

benefits, is some common understanding, or some such generally accepted

agreement, as finds expression in those forms of government which have,

for these very reasons, become common to all civilized lands.



It is in this idea of associated life that citizenship finds its real

beginning. But between the formulation of the idea, and such citizenship

as we now enjoy, there have been long centuries of slow growth and

steady development. Each of these succeeding centuries has marked a

decided improvement in the condition of mankind; and the outlook for the

future of the race is more hopeful at the present than in any period of

the past.



Men like to praise old times. They are fond of telling about "the good

old days," when there was simplicity, and a rude but rugged virtue, and

men were gay and happy. But if you were to take these men up, and carry

them back there, and let them sleep where men slept then, and let them

eat what men ate then, and let them do what men had to do then, and take

from them what men did not have then,--you would hear the most piteous

whining and complaining that ever afflicted your ears.



Do not be misled by such of our empty-headed reformers as would tell you

that the workman's lot is harder at the present than in the far-away

centuries of the past; for their statements cannot be verified, but are

untruthful and pernicious in the highest degree. The sober, industrious,

self-respecting artisan of to-day has the privilege of entrance to many

places and families which were closed against the merchants and

manufacturers of one hundred years ago; and he stands possessed of

opportunities such as were not possible even to the men of the last

generation.



Citizenship stands inseparably connected with the family. The family is

practically a little state in itself, embodying on a smaller scale, all

those vital and fundamental principles which make up the larger life of

the nation. It is in the family that we first come under government. Our

earliest lessons in obedience are those which arise from the authority

of our parents and guardians. It is in the home that we discover that we

cannot do altogether as we please, but that others, as well as

ourselves, must be regarded. And it will not be difficult to discern

that, in the various phases of home life, we have represented almost all

the forms of government which have become embodied in the various kinds

of national administration now prevailing in the various parts of the

earth.



In a well-ordered home, the authority would be such that every one could

have the largest freedom of action consistent with the general good.

When the freedom of any one made itself a cause of annoyance to the

rest, it would have to be curtailed. As fast as the children grew to

deserve more liberty, it would be given them; but always on condition

that they prove themselves worthy to be entrusted with this larger life.



But with this increase of freedom and privilege, comes the increase of

responsibility. Every member of the family who is old enough to

appreciate its privileges, is old enough to share its burdens. Some

specific duties should be assigned to each, however simple these may be;

and for the performance of these duties, each should be held to be

personally responsible. Precisely this is needed in the larger sphere of

the state; and when this can be attained and maintained, the good of the

state will be both effectually and permanently assured.



A true lover of his country will have, as his ruling idea, that the

state is for the people, and that America has been made to make and

sustain happy Americans. No nation is in a satisfactory condition when

large portions of its population are discontented and miserable. The

comfortable classes will generally take care of themselves; but they

need to know that their own prosperity is bound up with the condition of

the uncomfortable classes. And even if it were not so, it would be their

duty to advocate such social reforms as would tend to raise men

intellectually, morally, and circumstantially. The carrying into effect

of all this opens up a vast realm of service for the public good; and

the proper performance of this service, in all its several branches,

constitutes good citizenship.



Speaking in general terms, we may say that a citizen of a country is one

born in that country. If you were born in the United States, then you

are a citizen of the United States. This one simple fact endows you with

all the privileges of our great nation, and, at the same time, lays upon

you a measure of responsibility for the nation's welfare.



In addition to those who are trained for American citizenship in

American homes, we have among us a large body of men who are "citizens

by adoption." Millions of people have emigrated to America; and to these

it has become the country of their own free choice.



We are sorry to observe, in certain quarters, a growing disposition to

regard all immigrants as "a bad lot"; for while we concede that many of

those who come here, might certainly be much better than they are, we

would yet remind you that these "citizens by adoption" have repeatedly

proved their loyalty to our national institutions, and their

willingness to die in following our national flag.



Every good citizen will give attention to public affairs. He will not

only vote for good men and good measures, but he will use his personal

influence to have others do the same. Ours is a government of the

people, and is neither better nor worse than the people make it. We

should study the needs of our country, and keep ourselves well informed

on all the current questions of the day, and then, by an honest and

intelligent exercise of the privileges which the nation grants us, prove

ourselves citizens of the very highest type.





WAR ON TIMIDITY What Shall I Do? facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback