Thoughts For Parents
( Originally Published 1924 )
IN a very few years — a moment in time — you and I and all the others who to-day carry on the life of the world, those who are bearing the burden of civilization with its tremendous projects, its infinite ramifications, its almost godlike control of nature's forces, will be gone, wiped out by that never-ending pestilence — old age. The children of today will take our places.
These children came into the world in absolute ignorance. They must advance from a state in which they cannot even distinguish themselves from the objects about them, into one of competence for carrying on the load we must lay down. To do this, they must attain a mastery of all that is in themselves, so that they become tempered and controlled instruments of will ; they must have at their command the store of wisdom of the past and present, with the ability to take and to use it; they should know toward what goal the race is striving, and that service, self-sacrifice and willing cooperation are necessary to its achievement.
To change from babyhood to such development is no small undertaking, particularly when it must be done in a limited time and in accordance with nature's limitations and laws. To provide the right conditions, the inspiration and the training for this development-period is the problem of the home and the school. To do it well is imperative. It is far better to build less hugely, and to provide for the permanence of the structure by the wise training of those who will use it and add to it, who will prepare their successors and again pass it on, than it is to elaborate and expand our physical greatness at the expense of those whose world it soon will be.
Historians warn us that civilizations of the past have fallen back into barbarism when the complexity of the civilization became too great for the intelligence and education of the people. Our civilization to-day is by far the most complex of all the world has seen. The burden of carrying and administering it becomes greater day by day. If preparation for its wise use fails to keep pace, then this civilization too may sink back as others have done, and the race will once more be compelled to start its slow laborious climb toward the light.
To every adult of this generation, then, there comes this challenge: "Are you helping to prepare the finest gift you can leave behind you, that of children greater than their parents, ready to meet their private and public problems bravely and intelligently, trained to achieve nobly, quick to give them-selves unselfishly?" If we fail to meet this challenge — "after us, the deluge"!