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Let’s find a dustbin

Perhaps it is our collective laziness and impatience that shadows our basic civic sense

Let’s find a dustbin

So what does civic sense mean to me?

To be honest, questions of this sort can bring a great deal of emotional distress for a plethora of reasons. It could invariably lead to a bit of self-introspection, which is, at the very least, an uncomfortable concept if you know what I mean.

As rare as its cousin: common sense, it is a general perception that civic sense is something that can only be inculcated in one’s younger years, being next to impossible to learn when one advances in age.

What I am trying to understand is this: I am chewing a piece of gum, and I don’t see any dustbin nearby. I am aware that no one is watching me, will I or will I not throw the gum on the street or wherever I want to, knowing that no one will know it was me who did this?

The answer to this is the cornerstone of basic civic sense, in my opinion. Not in the classic sense of the term; this is, in fact, what determines one’s overall attitude towards civility and civic sense in an individual.

My answer to the question above would perhaps be a yes. Yes, it might cross my mind at least once to throw away the gum somewhere conveniently, if I couldn’t spot any dustbin nearby and I was aware that no one was watching me. But that is when I am here, in the comfort of a society I’ve grown up in. On my recent trip to New York, which is not an exceptionally clean city, I made it a point to locate dustbins and dispose of my trash in them.

So maybe our behaviour is relative to the place and society we are a part of in any specific moment; truly, we often observe people being quite respectful in public spheres outside the comfort of their native societies.

Also read: When the food has been served

There are two conclusions that one can draw from this. First, enforcement of some sort of law is imperative for citizens to abide by a code of public etiquette. Second, this behaviour needs to be inculcated in younger generations by actively ‘showing’ it to them from an early age. As we’re aware, children often learn by imitation alone.

As cliched as it may seem, societies are built or transformed in this manner, and at times it just takes one person to ‘initiate’ the change. We are talking of a slow and gradual process here, but maybe this is all we need to solve this age-old issue that we as a society have been inflicted with.

So let’s start by looking for a dustbin for a change, shall we?

Wajiha Hyder

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The writer is a member of staff. She can be reached at [email protected] and tweets @wajihahyder

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