Teaching the Child Patriotism - Part 4

Part 4

A LITTLE boy many years ago was marching down Fourth Avenue in New York, his face bright with interest and his whole air that of one who has important business on hand. A gentleman who met him was curious to know what was in the child's mind and stopped him.

"Where are you going so fast, my little man?" he asked.

"I'm going to the Bible House," replied the boy promptly. "You see the _Morning Star_,--that's the missionary ship, has just got in, and I paid a penny to get that ship, and so it's part mine, and I'm going down to hear all about it."

The gentleman who told this story was old, and the incident had occurred in his young manhood, but he said he had never forgotten it, for it ill.u.s.trated better than anything he had ever seen the effect upon the mind of a personal share in any enterprise.

The child who has worked in a garden is likely to watch its growth and progress with an interest which he could not otherwise feel. In the same way he can be made to appreciate his home better if he has daily light tasks to do in maintaining its order and comfort; but these tasks should, if possible, be made regular ones, and their performance should become a habit. If they are done only now and then, they are much more likely to be felt as a burden.

The maintenance of the ordinary home requires great labor and expense.

Without unduly distressing them, children should be made to understand this, and that it is only fair that each member of the family should do his part in keeping it up. In the households of the rich, such a course is hard to manage, for servants do all the work; but in the average home where but one servant, or none at all, is kept, a little ingenuity on the part of the parents will accomplish it, without "nagging" or tiresome repet.i.tion.

In one family of five children, where there was no servant, but where the standards of the mother were high, there was naturally an enormous amount of work to do. The eldest child was a girl of twelve, the next, a girl of ten. Then came a boy of eight, and so on down. The older ones were in school, but all helped cheerfully in the household work as far as they were able.

The boy of eight, who may be called Chester, was a thoughtful little fellow, and when he saw his mother rising at four or five o'clock every morning to wash or iron or cook; then, all day long cutting out little garments, running the sewing-machine, tending the teething baby, or engaged in the never-ending task of cleaning the house, his tender heart was deeply moved.

He was a great reader and the lady who superintended the village library came to know him well, and often had long talks with him. From his extensive reading, coupled with a naturally rather "old-fashioned" way of expressing himself, his remarks were often of a nature to amuse her, but she never laughed at him, and so was able to keep his confidence.

One morning Chester appeared with his weekly book, and as the librarian was alone, he sat down for a little talk. His face was long, and as he dropped into his chair, he sighed heavily.

"What is the matter, Chester?" she asked kindly.

"My mother is sick," he replied dejectedly. "She is sick in bed. My father got the breakfast, but he isn't much good,--and we children helped, but we ain't much good either. Not anything goes right when my mother is sick."

"But she will soon be well. Probably she has been working too hard."

"Yes, that's it," agreed Chester wearily. "My father says so. He tells her to let things go more, and she says she tries, but she wants the house to look so nice,--and see how well she mends my stockings,"--rolling up one of his knickerbockers, "and it is work, work, work for my mother from morning to night. Oh, Miss Smith,"

concluded Chester in a tone of anguish, "the lot of woman is very hard."

Miss Smith had never had such difficulty to control herself as when she heard this monumental sentiment from the lips of this diminutive urchin, but she managed to utter steadily, "Still, it must be a comfort to your mother to have so many good children to help her," to which Chester gravely a.s.sented.

There are not many children who so fully appreciate their mother's responsibilities; but it is well that, without complaint or whining, the mother should, in such circ.u.mstances as those which have been described, make her family understand that her "lot" needs all of the amelioration that they can supply; and they will love and value their home all the more, the more they do for it.

The same thing is true of the affairs of your town or city. If you do nothing for it, you are likely to care nothing for it.

In Miss McCracken's interesting book, "Teaching Through Stories," she tells of a little girl, who, from reading the story, "The Microbe Which Comes Into Milk," became convinced of the importance of pure milk. In this tale, emphasis is laid upon the rapidity with which milk deteriorates, if it is left standing in the sun, and the harm which often comes to babies in consequence.

A little later, a neighbor, who had a small baby, reported that this child rang her bell early one morning, about ten minutes after the milk-man had brought the baby's milk, and said anxiously, "Your milk-bottle is standing out on the piazza in the sun. Aren't you afraid it will spoil if you don't put it in the ice-chest?"

It is but a little way from an interest in the pure milk of an individual baby to an interest in pure milk for all babies. This little girl will probably grow up to see that laws are enforced for pure milk, and for the cleanliness of cows and stables. Even though she may never develop an enthusiasm for any other branch of politics, it is a good thing to have one woman working hard for pure milk.

All children can be taught to see that good laws for such matters are a part of patriotism; and that a man who does not try to help to get such laws, even though he may shout for political candidates and hang out flags in front of his house, is not a true patriot.

It is not often that one person can work in many different directions; but if each one will choose some reform in which he is particularly interested, and hammer at that until it is accomplished, he will have done something fine for his country. He may meet with all kinds of discouragements, but let him hold on. Again, he must be reminded that patriotism is seldom easy.

Even after you have succeeded in getting your ordinance pa.s.sed, you may have trouble in having it enforced. Worst of all, the clever rascals on the other side may manage to get your hard-won law repealed,--and there is your long task all to do over again.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty just as much now as ever. Look across the ocean, and you see what it is costing the nations of to-day.

You think that our fathers gained it for us in the Revolution, and that, however others may have to fight for it, it is secure for us; and all that we have to do is to sit back and enjoy it. On the contrary, some form of tyranny is always just around the corner, waiting to devour us.

It is not impossible that a wrong issue of this war may force us to fight on our own soil again for it.

In any case, there are plenty of social and commercial tyrants only waiting to lay hands on us. Sometimes it is a rich corporation, stretching out shrewd tentacles to entrap us. Its managers may be philanthropic and courteous, even religious, tyrants,--but despots none the less. It may be a company of racetrack gamblers, defeated for a while by a fearless governor, but stealing back to power as soon as his back is turned. Different states may have different tyrants,--or an arrogant party of socialists may "tie up" the whole country. There is almost every minute some movement going on, calculated, if it succeeds, to hamper or destroy our liberty. Mr. D. L. Moody once said, when he was commenting upon this phase of our national life: "Anything that is going to hurt this nation we ought to fight. Anything that is going to undermine this grand republic or tear out its foundation, you and I ought to guard against with our tears and our prayers and our efforts."

Explain this often to your children. It will strengthen their determination to defend their country.

One of our young reformers in a public address lately pleaded for a wider recognition among the people of the good work of honest officials.

"There are enough among us to find fault when things are not done right," he said, "but there are few who will take the trouble to commend the man who does well. He keeps on with his efforts, whether he gets any praise for it or not, but he is often immensely cheered and refreshed by an appreciative word. If his morality is not of the heroic kind, he may fall away and cease to put forth any special effort to do his work well, just for lack of encouragement."

He ill.u.s.trated his point with the story of the small boy who was sweeping the sidewalk when some ladies appeared to call upon his mother.

One of them asked pleasantly, "Is your mother at home?"

His rather rude reply was laden with significance.

"Do you suppose," he growled, while a slight twinkle broke through his scowling eye, "that I would be sweeping here if she wasn't at home?"

In spite of the fact that a well-fed, well-clothed and well-educated people, like the Germans, for instance, will bear an autocratic government, which kindly does everything for them, but gives little opportunity for individual initiative; it cannot be compared, in its salutary effect upon its citizens, with one which calls forth the powers of judgment and decision in every one, and feeds self-respect, discouraging toadyism and caste, like a republic. An autocracy, if wisely administered, undoubtedly means greater order and efficiency, until the democracy has mastered its new problems and its people have become thoroughly educated. Rough working of new machinery is almost inevitable; and the modern democratic idea has not, even in our own country, in the absence of the votes of half the people, been allowed proper s.p.a.ce for expansion, though England, France and Switzerland are hewing at it also. A hundred years longer will show what it can do, if demagogues do not overturn it. If our republic fails, another will arise upon its ashes, for the n.o.ble principles upon which it was founded are the highest yet conceived by man, and are immortal.

This truth cannot be too early or too strongly impressed upon our children. There are enough men, like our distinguished capitalist, who do not believe in it. Their plausible arguments may undermine the convictions of our young people, unless we furnish them with solid reasons for our higher belief.

As Mr. Benjamin C. R. Low has recently written in a fine poem, "America is so new!"

We are new. We realize that we are an experiment. Whether this experiment, the greatest the world has ever seen, is to succeed, depends upon the kind of patriotism that is instilled into our children. They must be thoroughly inoculated with the truth that both peace and war make incessant, expensive and personally sacrificial demands upon every citizen, and that these demands must be met by them, or else America is lost.

There must be no "slackers" in this everlasting conflict.



Entire abstinence from intoxicating drinks as a beverage, would, with all its attendant blessings, in the course of a single generation, carry comfort, competence and respectability, with but few exceptions, into all the dwellings in the land. This is not a matter of probability and conjecture. It depends upon principles as fixed and certain in their operation as the rising of the sun.--HORACE MANN.

WE are accused by our foreign visitors of being a sickly nation, and the numerous exemptions from military service among our young men for physical defects, have reinforced their contention. Our ice-water, our ice-cream soda-water, our custom of bolting our food, and our over-heated houses, make it impossible, they say, that we should ever be a strong and healthy people. And so, of course, we can never hope to be a "world-power!"

Many other indictments are brought against us in this line, most of which, if the ardent accusers would only think of it, might be brought with equal justice against every other civilized nation.

Thus, excessive alcoholism, in which we have been said to be second only to Great Britain, evidently applies somewhat to other countries, in which the new prohibitory laws are declared to have worked a social and industrial revolution. Drunkenness must have prevailed there to a considerable degree, since the condition of the people has been so much improved by a prohibitory law.

We are all ready to concede, even though prohibition has won to its support so many of our states, that there is still room for improvement in the public opinion of a large part of the country, regarding the merits of "wet and dry."

It is stoutly maintained in certain social circles that the daily presence of wine upon the family table is more likely than its absence to promote temperance there. This theory does not commend itself to most of us, and our position is strengthened by the facts recently proclaimed by science, which go to prove that not only do drunkards abound among the families which serve wine upon their tables, but that the use of any alcoholic beverage lowers efficiency and is distinctly injurious to health, in spite of exceptions. We always hear of these shining exceptions, while of the vast army of those who have succ.u.mbed, no records are available.

Dr. Eugene Lyman Fisk, in one of his interesting articles, states that recent scientific researches have proven that "alcohol has been found to be a depressant and a narcotic, often exerting, even in small daily doses, an unfavorable effect on the brain and nervous functions, and on heart and circulation, and lowering the resistance of the body to infection."