Monday, 13 August 2018

The Civic Ideal : Sister Nivedita

The mind of our civilisation is awake once more, and we know that the long ages of theocratic development are perfected, while before us lies the task of actualising those mighty ideals of the civic and national life by which the theocratic achievements of our fathers are to be protected and conserved. We are now to go out, as it were, into the waste spaces about our life, and build there those towers and bastions of self organization and mutual aid, by which we are yet to become competent to deal with the modern world and all its forces of aggression. The bricks lie there, in abundance, for our work. The elements abound, in our history, our literature, our traditions, and our customs, by which we can make of ourselves a strong and coherent people. It needs only that we understand our own purpose, and the method of its accomplishment. As the architect builds to a plan, so is a nation fashioned by its own dreams. And he who knows this, knows also how to use his power of dreaming. The very doctrine, that everything in life is the work of desire, would teach us this. For it follows as an inevitable inference that the world is changed by those who best know how and what to desire. It may even be, after all, that there is no castle in the world so formidable as a well-built 'castle in the air'!

 

But the elements of nationality are civic and to these civic components it is that the individual stands most directly and most permanently related. The man who would not stir a finger to help his village to the recovery of grazing-rights is not the man to bleed and die in the country's cause. The man who will not suffer some slight risk and discomfort for national good, is not the man to whom to entrust the banner of an army. By civic duty we are tested for national responsibility. By the widening of the smaller accomplishment, we immeasurably extend the possibilities of the larger. It might be said, however, that we have at the moment but little idea of what is meant by the civic life or the civic ideal. This is true; nevertheless we have but to give the words our close attention, and undoubtedly the day will come, when, for our love and faith in them, we shall be ready to die.