25 October 1956
This morning Nancy was talking about her English class and Miss Joseph again. Seems Billy and many other of the youngsters find her a crazy-mixed-kid. Well I can see their point of view. Miss Joseph does not have an integrated mind. She runs off in all kinds of directions – blowing hot and cold. Yet from everyone, you can learn something.
Now lately Miss Joseph has been using the Bible in her class discussions on literature. Although her class orderliness does not exist,although she punishes a child, then multiplies the punishment, etc., she comes up with very lucid insights, too.
Now for instance, this business about the Bible. She said no one can understand the literature of the past (she is talking about Western civilization)unless they have an understanding of the Bible, sic. Religion. And in this case the Christian religion. She commented though even if you are a Jew – you should read the New Testament.
In this respect she is so correct. Although I will carry it somewhat further here. Unless you have a comprehension of the religious aspects of any civilization, Western, Eastern, early man – sun worshipers etc., you cannot obtain any depth of the rest of their culture. Just the Christian world in its music, art, literature is valueless unless you understand the Christian beliefs, so you cannot understand the cultural pursuits, the art, music, or literature of peoples who are the Buddhists in India, China, Japan, and Siam;or, the Mohammeds [sic] of the Islam world – the Arabs, the Turks, the North Africans.
So, whether the youngsters are this way or that about Miss Joseph is of no consequence. Whether they know it or not, Miss Joseph is trying to give them an insight into the world of literature – her particular field, in the cultural aspects of the Western civilization.
She might have added when she said the Jews should read the New Testament, that it would be good thing for the Christian members of herEnglish class to read the Talmud of the Jews – the Koran of the Muslims, and Buddhist teachings; or to point out to them that the Christian idea of a fiery hell was prompted by that desert where Christianity was born and the Muslim religion was born in contrast to the northern religions where geography shows climates are frozen, therefore they had entirely different ideas of the hell or heaven concept – sic. the Nords.
About here it is well in these notes to pay tribute to Lin Yutang. In his book “The importance of Living” he prods Western ideas of the pursuit of knowledge. In his chapter 12 – “The enjoyment of Culture” – hecovers hsüeh(scholarship); hsing (conduct); shih or shih chien (discernment or real insight).He says people who can only produce facts and figures and statistics have erudition but no discernment or taste. Erudition is a mere matter of cramming of facts or information, while taste or discernment is a matter of artistic judgment . . . To be well-informed, orto accumulate facts and details is the easiest of all things, but discernment in the selection of significant facts is a vastly more difficult thing and depends upon one’s point of view . . . Taste he allies closely with courage –the courage or independence of judgment versus being bulldozed by supposed experts. When a man is wrong he is wrong and there is no need to be impressed and overawed by a great name or by the number of books he has read and we had and we haven’t. He is unwilling to be convinced by any author until he is convinced at heart. If the author convinces him the author is right; if the author cannot convince him that he is right then the author wrong.
Getting back to Miss Joseph – what she is trying to do is give her English students a background and understanding of literature so that the youngsters – someday – can have not only scholarliness, but depth in discernment, or real insight into literature.
As the Lin Yutang says, the aim of education or culture is merely the development of good taste in knowledge and good form in conduct. The cultured man or the ideal educated man is not necessarily one who is well read or learned but one who likes and dislikes the right things. To know what to love and want to hate is to have tasted knowledge.
Confucius, he goes on, seems to have felt that scholarship without thinking was more dangerous than thinking unbacked by scholarship. He said: thinking without learning makes one flighty and learning without thinking is a disaster. Light the dark corner! Hold the torch high!
When it is all boiled down, life is people for the human race – and the human race is a part, but only a part of creation. However, let the human race live and solve their human status without ever forgetting the yare subject to greater forces within the structure of creation. If they never raised their eyes, thinking why they alone are creation, they lose their perspective of creation and too often assumed poses of conceit and arrogance that does the human race no good. Perhaps when human beings understand they are part of a whole – and not the whole, it will be easier for the individual to lose some of their conceit and with the loss of personal conceit be able to think of their fellow man as a brother because the heaviness of conceit will be replaced by cooler more objective thinking. Perhaps then the individual will think twice before crying out in outrage when his feelings are hurt but instead look to see what his actions are doing to the other fellow.
My thinking is a bit foggy on the subject. I can’t yet pin it down to my systematic checks and balance mental system to see how or whether or in what way it is applicable to all aspects of daily living I find it.
This is somehow a new kind of thinking process that is taking place in me.
It has to do with perpetuating oneself. What kind of values I want to perpetuate. It has to do with understanding one’s self and understanding one’s value in the scheme of life. It has to do with what is valuable in life –your own life, and in the life of the world around you.
And if I didn’t feel compelled to do this – I’m sure I would be doing something else – I wouldn’t be searching for some clarification in these notes.
in fact, I know that another reason why Blanche’s proposition of going into business with her held no particular appeal because I thought it’s only value was to make money and that wasn’t enough. If that is all I wanted, I could make money selling lipsticks and aspirin at the corner drugstore – I’m sure Gross would give me a job if I asked him for one. It is only my search for that “more than just money” which pulled me back to my economics book of years ago to read about international trade in the basic principles, the human aspects, involved that give me any kind of a purpose for going into business with Blanche. Her “How to Do it Book” on exporting didn’t give me sufficient drive to crack my brain trying to merely and only devise a sophisticated way of making money. I like the things money can supply – but I’m not in poverty – far from it! If one can make money doing something interesting– wonderful! But it is much better to have money the byproduct rather than the product.
Wouldn’t it be revolutionary and wonderful if businesses told of what and how many services to humanity they performed, how much use to people their product had, how much better life was with it, and their annual reports and their reports to their employees with a profit picture, their costpicture a necessary byproduct of the valuable lesson of their business. Or is this only for advertising people – the hucksters who are motivated not by failures but by profits alone!
An interesting thought!
This would be the plot of a play or story – it has been touched on in “Executive Suite” etc. Sure, I’m interested in profit – but I’m more interested in people – what my product can do to help them to a richer fuller happier life – not just one person – but a lot of people. Humanity is my objective – not profit any price. Honest products, good products. Not any old product and dishonest profits if necessary.
Yet – revolutionary or not, this idea of mine will eventually have to be the trend of the world of tomorrow, or we’ll blow ourselves to bits.
If labor is not drawn into the picture of the whole; if management talks only of profit, there will never be unity because if management stresses profit, that is what the worker will stress, and the whole pride of workmanship is lost because money is the product instead of the product, it’s functions, and its purpose for being produced.
A lot of money doesn’t make a good home, a good family, a good neighborhood, city, government, nation, or world unless with the money there is a sense of service and usefulness – basic usefulness – not reasons of false dimensions; good pride, not false pride that sets one man over and above another.
Many Christian leaders are wrong when they say material values are the work of the devil. Material values are good, but they are no good if they are the only value, material values are only no good when they are not linked to human values first. People come before cars and airplanes. They must always come before anything else is valuable in so far as the human race is concerned. When material values come before human values you’re bound to have trouble and strife because the human itself is then supposed to have less intrinsic value and dignity than things, material possessions.