13 April 1957
Per discussing the “books” given by Boards of Education with Kurt and Blanche yesterday evening.
Blanche: They talk about more money to pay teachers’ salaries: stop the Board of Education from supplying books and the board will have plenty of money to pay teachers. A good bit of graft in book business deals with board. Taking them out of public financing, the public does not know what is going on – If parents see new books their kids bring home that are not better than the books the youngsters is discarding – the parents holler. Under the Board supplied idea of books – parents are removed from the immediacy of the situation and it is difficult to evaluate. Also – when parents who do not buy books – no vested interest – the kids are not proper taught proper respect – and that parent loses touch with his child’s learning, even if interested – the gap widens between child and parent – parent and school.
Responsibility is heavily insulated from the need for responsibility because responsibility is not made a personal concern.
Blanche feels this book giving started during the depression. At that time there was a need for it – now – with most people earning what they do – we are far removed from depression days.
For family is really in need are always given free books very quietly.
From: Profit in the Wilderness (story of Albert Schweitzer):
We have to wrestle with conditions so as to make sure that men were imprisoned and work, and being worn out by it, may nevertheless preserve the possibility of a spiritual existence. We have to wrestle with men, so that, in spite of our being continuously drawn aside to the eternal things which are provided so abundantly for our age, they may find the road to inwardness and keep it. We have to wrestle with ourselves, and with all and everything around us, so that in time of confused ideals, ignoring every claim of humanity, we remain faithful to human ideals, transplanting them into the thought of our own age and attempting to realize them.”
Europe in the busy years following the armistice, when he had first found himself as a lecture and concert artist, capable of restoring his ruined African enterprise. In that world he saw the world driving to fresh disaster all the tendencies toward downfall and the decay which he had noted and deplored 20 and 30 years before.
The flight from rationalism, the flight from thinking, had for a generation been bad enough in all conscience, but never had there been such organized efforts by social, political, and even religious bodies to discredit individual thinking and persuade men to yield their minds to the authority of groups seeking strength not in ideas but in an enforced unanimity. Everything a man saw or read, everyone he encountered, the associations which claim his loyalty, all drove in on the same propaganda of self-distrust and dependence. Men seemed no longer to have any spiritual confidence. Efficient no doubt, they were, in material things, yes, but mentally and spiritually stunted. How incredible that a generation which had achieved so much in discovery and invention could sink so low as to relinquish its right to think for itself. What spiritual bankruptcy! All men must see it and in reference for life reverence for life, find again the desire and ability to think. The mission was definite – and clear: to wake men sleeping souls and make them think.
Schweitzer was saying quietly that there was such a thing as right and wrong, that what advanced life was right and what hindered life was wrong and that, since life was the ultimate factor in any world made up of human beings, the basis of any enduring society was reverence for life. Without ethical standards men were beasts and it should not be surprising to anyone if they acted like beasts.
Lao Tse: Chinese philosopher and sage who had known wars and victories two centuries before Socrates and six centuries before Christ page 205 – profit of wilderness: “At the celebration of any victory the general should act as he would at a funeral” etc.
Reverence for life! And after 2500 years scarcely a handful believe in it. All the more reason to stand and work in the world as one who aims at keeping men’s inner life and making them sounder at heart by making them think!
Let no man judge his neighbor. The one thing that matters is that each (one) shall value what he possesses as something with which he expects to serve. Whether this is accompanied by his keeping and increasing his wealth, or by surrendering it, matters little. In most varied ways wealth must reach the community if the latter is to benefit by the best way. (The idea of welfare for all not in the sense of government allotments [but] by concern and recognition of spiritual needs and humane concern.) Let each decide according to the responsibility determined for him by the circumstances of his life.
(This is the same reasoning permeating through Romance of Commerce). He who saves his own skin and cares for no other is a spiritual bankrupt and can never find any peace.
Reverence for life . . . bids me think of others and asked me to consider whether I may allow myself the inward right to pluck all the fruit that my hand can reach. Open your eyes and look for a human being or some work devoted to human welfare which needs a little time or friendliness, a little compassion, or sociability, or work. There may be a recluse – an invalid – an old woman or a child. Or some good work needs volunteers who can offer a free evening or run errands. Who shall enumerate the many ways in which the costly piece of fixed capital, a human being, may be employed.
NOT OURS TO KEEP could be a novel about materialism, pride, avarice, stupidity, people who want power over others. A sort of combination of Eric Fromm – Schweitzer – Paul Brunton.
Life in the world is not ours to keep. There is only one certainty – Death is the great leveler, we none of us can escape it, for life in this world is not ours to keep – so why try to grab all the food off the tree, forgetting the welfare of others? The we – experience – in our egocentricity.
“Opportunist policy may have temporary six senses to record, but in the long run assuredly it ends in failure.
“. . .Thus, it may happen that in obedience to consideration for the existence of another, I may do what to ordinary opinion seems to be folly. Yes, it may even be revealed as folly by the fact that my renunciation is not been of the slaves benefit to him for whom it was made. And yet I was right. Reverence for life is the ultimate Court of Appeal. What commands has significance even when it seems foolish or futile.”