Civic sense, or rather the lack of it, is a topic that has been widely discussed and argued in India. Somehow, most Indians do not care much for civic sense. And this attitude is prevalent across all sections of society. People today are so driven towards their personal goals that civic sense as an ethic has become a low priority, almost a nuisance.
But this attitude could be harmful for India in the long run. Civic sense has dropped to an all-time low in recent years, as is rather obvious from the current state of society. Let's see what people and specifically parents can do to curb this downswing.
What is Civic Sense?
Civic sense is nothing but social ethics. It is consideration by the people for the unspoken norms of society. A lot of people assume that civic sense is just about keeping the roads, streets and public property clean. But civic sense is more than that; it has to do with law-abiding, respect for fellow men and maintaining decorum in public places. A lot of foreign countries function in a smooth manner because of the strong civic sense amongst its people.
With the exception of a couple of lessons in school, not a lot of attention is given to civic behaviour. Schools and homes do not teach their children about the importance of civic sense and how it could make a difference to the country as well as the quality of their lives. Let's see why civic sense is so important.
Why is Civic Sense important?
Separatism, vandalism, intolerance, racism, road rage etc. are all examples of lack of civic sense. People are becoming less and less tolerant of each other, of other's cultures, backgrounds, and other similar traits. India has really diverse people and the need of the hour is general civic sense. It is not uncommon to read or hear about communal friction. Even living in the city has become difficult because people have no consideration whatsoever for fellow city-dwellers.
When civic sense is absent in a society, it leads to a lot of problems. Disregard for the law is a primary cause for lacking civic sense. A person who has high civic values does not resort to shortcuts and unethical tactics to get his work done. And being unethical in daily activities does not benefit anyone, as the behaviour only gets emulated by other members of society. Ultimately, the situation will reach a point where hardly anything can be done to restore it.
For example, being inconsiderate towards fellow society members will only come right back at you. You have to be social, mature and unbiased when it comes to situations in public. The current state of public transport, for example, is disheartening. And we have no one to blame but ourselves for this condition.
There are spit marks, urine, vulgar graffiti, random garbage and overflowing sewers at every nook and corner of India. NO city in this country has managed to fight the menace. It is easy to pin everything on the government, but people must first question themselves and their own civic sense. Roads are not dirty because nobody cleaned it, but because somebody dirtied it in the first place.
And such dirt and grime is not acceptable to anybody; it exists only because everybody does it. Even swine flu, which is quickly spreading across the country, was caused by the absence of hygiene. It does not help that people are irresponsible with the disposal of bio-waste. And people continue to indulge in such behaviour in spite of knowing the harmful effects.
Using 'everybody does it' is an excuse and only an excuse. In India, even prominent personalities indulge in proud displays of lack of civic sense. Take for example, ministers who delay planes with complete disregard for other passengers or companies that freely pollute rivers and lakes. It is difficult for a country to change its mindset when its leaders themselves are setting bad examples, round the clock, all the time.
How can you teach Your Child about Civic Sense?
When you teach your child about civic sense, you also teach him about civic responsibility. Children need to be taught civic sense early because unlike a specific skill, civic sense is a school of thought in itself. It is belief in hygiene, respect for other members of society, and humane behaviour.
So how do you go about teaching your child civic sense? Begin by teaching him to keep his immediate surroundings clean and tidy. If he learns to appreciate cleanliness, he will be able to practice it outside of home as well. Explain to him that just because other people dirty their surroundings does not mean he should too.
Encourage him to mix with people from different backgrounds and not harbour prejudice against them. India is a mix of a variety of people and patience and tolerance in your child will make him more accepted and respected. You can also tell your child about the relevance of different festivals and explain to him the spirit behind each. This way, he will not see the differences but the similarities between his religion and another's.
With such small steps you can teach your child about civic sense and the importance of it in his life. And by teaching your child about civic sense, you are not only making him a better human being but also doing your bit for the future of the country.