THERE are three terms which are often confused in popular usage, viz., housing, housekeeping, and home-making. Each one has a distinct meaning, and yet they all go together to make up one whole, and that a very important concern of the housewife. We may use as an analogy the human body. There is first its structure or its anatomy, then its physical activities or its physiology, and finally its spiritual life or its soul Housing is the material form which shelter takes; housekeeping is the direction or maintenance of the physical aspects of the house, while home-making is the crown of all, the nurture and development of that spirit which finds expression in the popular phrase, "There's no place like home."
Much of the so-called "bad housing," when closely scrutinized, proves to be bad housekeeping and bad home-making. Changes in housing laws will not better these conditions. There must be education for housekeeping. But more important still for right living and the welfare of society is education for home-making. This means the education of husbands and fathers as well as of wives and mothers. Little can be accomplished for the betterment of the home until this fact is recognized by public opinion and the significance of the home - not of its processes merely - is recognized equally by men and women.
As the civilization of our time grows more complex, the relation of the individual to other individuals and to the community becomes more dependent and intricate. The change manifests itself in many forms, among which one of the most important and obvious is the larger control over the individual and his activities assumed by the state, showing itself by the adoption of new statutes and the organization of new administrative machinery.
One of the latest phases of individual activity to be taken over by the community is that of the householder. The earlier attitude of the law towards a man's dwelling was shown in the adage that "A man's house is his castle," expressing the idea that at the outer door all rights of the outsider, even the public, ceased, and beyond that point the power of the occupant was complete.
This view of the rights of the householder has had to yield to the modern conception of the relations of men to each other, and the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" receives quite different answers now, when the brother's right to life and health are had in mind, from those given in the older days, when men's minds were centred on obtaining freedom from official control. In this respect, as in other directions, it is recognized more and more fully that the limitations of one man's freedom may be absolutely essentia! to the enjoyment by another man of ordinarily favorable conditions.
The law has always recognized as a basic principle in the use of property the maxim, "Thou shalt not so use thine own as to injure another's"; and in this principle support was found for the whole theory and law relating to nuisances, public and private. In these days the health has become a matter of public interest and control, as the public peace long has been; and control of the use of a man's house has been taken over by the public with something of the same completeness with which the use of the streets and highways long has been regulated.
The forms which the regulation has assumed are first, preventive, exercised by administrative boards or officers with large and incisive powers of inspection and direction; and second, penal, enforced by the ordinary criminal processes of the law. The control thus exercised is usually in this country a matter of state, rather than of federal, control, largely delegated to the local units, and varies greatly with the needs of different localities and their respective stages of civic development Because of the wide range of these variations, it would seem worth while for householders, either individually or through special or general clubs, to make a study of the subjects over which control has already been assumed in the most progressive communities, and to discuss the tendencies manifesting themselves. There should be the twofold purpose of informing the members of those communities which have taken an advanced position what obligations have been laid upon them, and of suggesting to members of those communities which are backward in this respect what they may reasonably demand of their legislative bodies and to what objects the public opinion of their neighbors may profitably be directed.
But however important the legal relations of the householder to the community at large may be, it is not the only nor perhaps the most important subject for study. To be sure, a long step in advance is taken when a householder realizes that society is 110 longer an aggregation of isolated units, enters into the modern spirit of the obligation of the individual to the community, and heartily obeys the laws which control the rights of householders in the use of their property. But he does not reach the full conception of the modern view until he realizes that there is a finer and higher ideal than that of merely conforming, however intelligently and willingly, to the regulations laid down by the community in which he dwells, and considers the sacrifice of the seeming liberty a trifle in comparison with the larger opportunity for the best citizenship. No matter how specific, detailed, and exacting the body of sanitary law in a community may be, there is a large uncontrolled field of obligation and duty which the true citizen should enter. His house may conform in every respect to the law, but the way in which he may use it is largely a matter of choice. Here he should rise above and beyond the law and make his house a unit of health, not only for himself and his family, but for the community at large, through the wise, intelligent, and public-spirited way in which its use and activities are directed.