Quleen Kaur Bijral Bijral
Columnist, The Logical Indian
Image Source: smashingmagazine
Stepping out of our homes, we hope not to cross any frustrating episode of road rage, dumps of garbage, unclean streets and other unpleasant sights. Such scenes due to their gross repetition have become so naturalised and common to us, that we look the other way than take a step to put a stop to it. For instance, the fast rate in which a public area is prone to defacing and other acts of vandalism shows the lack of civic sense in the public. The responsibility of the public to preserve the life of the public property is either lacking or not considered relevant at all. We can daily witness how one negligent action in the public like littering, bullying in bus, public urination etc can provoke the other to do the same without any concern for a civic sense. It sure disturbs us to find other people breaking the social etiquettes of public space and property yet we still follow the same example hence continuing the vicious cycle. The result is that most of the public areas such as parks, roads, railway stations, public loos etc have become a widespread symbol of pollution, chaos and rubbish. The common attitude of ‘others are doing it, so we can too’ has become so ingrained in our minds that a holistic awareness into the situation is important.
What is Civic Sense
Civic sense implies a responsible adherence to the social mannerisms, decorum and rules of appropriately using the public property. It is based on the notion that the public space and property is to be used in such a manner that the other person is not inhibited or allowed excess use of the same. We can use our personal property the way we deem fit but by the same example we cannot lay a sole claim to the public property as well. The principle and ethics of balanced and shared use of the public property is vital in keeping the society clean and fit for peaceful habitation. It is only when civic sense is considered as a fundamental step towards the making of responsible citizen, the society at large can benefit from its far-reaching advantages.
Why Civic Sense is Sidelined?
Freedom is important to all of us; there is no question about it. While discussing about civic sense, it can sound like one is trying to curtail one’s freedom. But, this is not the case. When we ask the public to refrain from littering, the impression they get is we are attempting to either restrain them or punish them for being a free citizen. This mentality has to be checked so that the need of civic sense is not confused with the imposition of cruel duties on the public. Civic sense is needed to make the public space a comfortable and beautiful locale which will not put a lock on one’s freedom but a caution to it so that our freedom does not restrict the freedom of the other.
Since our childhood we are taught to clean our room, belongings and other disciplinary matters of sanitation and order. In the school, the same goes for keeping the class and the school premises clean. This training is mostly implicit i.e. it is left to the students to understand that the need of cleanliness should also be adopted in public places. There is no deliberate attention given to the importance of civic sense, hence while the students keep the house and classroom clean, they do not realize the importance of it or why this habit should also be implemented in the outdoors. Social life is not only about excelling in studies, in careers, and personal life; we are living in the society and so considerable importance should be given to the issue of civic sense. The point is to co-exist peacefully without stepping on other people’s need for fresh air, water, clean roads and parks etc.
We as a people are generally afflicted with this temperament that our one episode of littering will not make any difference. And when we all think this way, one event naturally leads to a dump pilling here and there. This mentality can be rectified by a concerted awareness into the issue of civic sense and how its implementation can revitalize as well as conserve our public areas in terms of aesthetic beauty and sanitation.
In my personal experience, I have seen people mocking a person who picks up litter from the ground and throws it in the bin. Even when his act defines the marks of good civic sense, such a person is ridiculed for apparently showing off. This act shows how irrelevant and inconsequential we consider the need for a civic sense. True, we realise the importance of keeping the cities clean, but when it comes to doing it our self, we let it pass. It is time we take a step to acknowledge that it is our duty as a citizen and as a society at large to ensure the sanitation and order of our public place and property.
Civic Sense: It is Time to Take Note
Despite the unawareness regarding civic sense, it is not something which is a difficult task or something not feasible. In order to inculcate the essentials of civic sense, reading a book or acquiring professional skills is not required. What is needed is general awareness into what civic sense is, and how easily it can be implemented. Following the simple paradigm of respecting the freedom of others and knowing our duties can bring an optimistic and refreshing outlook in our life; it will also keep our mind and body free of the nonsense of noise, garbage, stench, and other frustrating aspects of places neglectful of civic sense.
The common culprits or social crimes which make our public life a nuisance have to be checked for this ethical process to work. It is time we say NO to – Littering, Vandalism, Racism, Bullying, Apathy for the Senior Citizen, Sexual Misconduct in Public areas, Cutting in Queues, Spitting, Pissing, Reckless Driving, Smoking, Staring, and other issues because if they make us uncomfortable, they also make others uncomfortable too.
The Logical Stance: What you can do
Make civic sense a part of your curriculum in academics or home tutoring.
Spread awareness by becoming an example of a responsible citizen. If you will litter, others will follow. So do not, and become the change you want.
Respect for the fellow sitting next to you in the bus, driving ahead of you, standing in a queue etc. goes a long way to ensure civic sense is imbibed in the society
Teach about civic sense and do not dictate or impose it. Policing from your part will only make matters worse hence make sure when you make people aware about it, you do so with a gentle approach than with a harsh authority.
If there is laxity shown by the municipal corporation, then highlight the issue than grow indifferent to it or wait for others to file a complaint.
Finally, it is should be remembered that Civic sense is not only about a duty towards a clean city but a right to clean city as well. It comes with a responsibility but also with a power so you can decide and have a say in the betterment of your surroundings and environs than leave it to the government. It is a habit forming activity, which requires a concern for the place you have to work and live in. Civic sense should no longer be tacitly understood rather its sensitisation should be done in a concrete and open manner. Talk about it than ignore it. We
all know about it but do not know it is also to be implemented. It is high time. Let’s do this. Not a second longer
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