Within every human being lies a deep-rooted desire to learn truth; a mighty urge that may have been awakened in a moment, by a book, a poem; or a slow imperceptible growth arising in the wellsprings of the consciousness. In most of us it becomes overlaid with the cares of minor and immediate activities, but at times it will arise and cause the whole being to turn inward into the roots of universal nature, seeking the strength that we feel is there, the knowledge just beyond our horizon, and the source of the love that links us with all the world.
Could this force be made to act through all human beings at once, what a magnificent picture of unity in diversity might this not call forth! If all the peoples of the earth were suddenly to become fully aware of their common humanity, sensing the divine core of Nature as their own and determining to live one-pointedly towards that center of themselves, the earth would blossom overnight into a paradise. The mean and selfish differences which now turn one against another would give place to a true brotherhood, in which every man would feel equally the joys and sorrows of his fellows, would know their strength and their weakness, and would understand.
Is this then so impossible? "Except ye become as little children . . . " This phrase deserves study. Children in the sense of foolish and irresponsible? Or giving way to childish tantrums? Certainly not!
In what way then do children hold an advantage in understanding? In innocence? Yes, but not in the usually accepted sense of being newly created beings without previous experience. We have every reason to believe that the souls who imbody themselves have formed very definite habits and characteristics before birth in who knows what conditions of life. They have unmistakable predilections and tendencies not accounted for by heredity. No two babies are alike even at birth.
All children, nevertheless, have this in common: they are without prejudice. They are born without concern for such things as whether the Joneses sport a Ford or a Cadillac; they care naught whether their parents, and they, be labeled Episcopalian or Parsi, and their skin may be black or red without causing them the slightest discomfort. The fact is that a child's bright eyes see life undisguised, and that, as we grow, we add lens upon lens to the distorting spectacles through which we view the world when we become "educated."
What can be more absurd than our lopsided sense of values? Imagine the scorn that would greet a hostess who dared to serve wine in coffee-cups! We have a most rigid set of rules that we must abide by in matters of clothing, food, houses, and customs. If as much consideration were accorded to mental habits, emotional nourishment and moral qualities, we should be forced into much greater tolerance for one another and into making a good deal more effort towards bettering our condition.
The fault in our civilization lies in the placement of our center of gravity. As long as this center, around which we build our behavior pattern, remains in the superficial and evanescent portions of our nature, so long will we continue to be prodded by a multitude of irrelevancies and be forced into an artificial bearing that takes no account of the needs of the soul. Our children will continue to be taught unnumbered non-essentials inhibiting the natural growth to which the soul is entitled and for which it seeks life; and so the next generation of adults adds more complexities to the already intricate mesh of custom of its forebears, and leaves still less inclination for the inner life, without which man is but a beast.
In order to counteract this tendency it is needful that we initiate a spiritualizing impulse that may be carried on by succeeding generations, gathering momentum in the lives of our successors, so that long after we are forgotten the fruit of our efforts may be a more harmonious world.
The advantage of the child's awareness lies in its being completely uncolored by any artificial fads. A child will react the same towards a beggar or a king, judging the man by an instinct of attraction or repulsion, which springs from its unspoiled nature. The longer a child can be protected against the intrusion of unwarranted prejudice, the more surely will its native longing for truth urge it to learn the essential facts about the universe surrounding it. The youth growing into manhood with his faculties of mind awake and active will then be enabled to live truly and harmoniously with the world around him.
To dwell on past mistakes in ourselves and others is morbid and creates fear, which gives rise to deception and loss of the self-reliance needed for continued progress in evolution. Therefore it is essential that censure and criticism be replaced by a genuine desire to help and a renewed effort to replace weakness with strength. In a family where this is recognized may be found a common ground of understanding based on a concerted effort to achieve and maintain an ever higher standard of behavior. In such a family there will be mutual respect and tolerance and the helpful co-operation that ensues among people engaged in a noble work together. Parents can learn more than they are wont to admit from their children's freshness of outlook and many a shoddy opinion may be discarded in the face of a child's simple "Why?" Why not accept this gift of pristine simplicity and to the best of our ability become "as little children"? At least, let us not force the fluid minds of the young into the multiform artificial molds we occupy against our better judgment. Children need the guidance of adults in acquiring good habits of behavior and must receive parental discipline of a type that will teach them to administer self-discipline when the mind and judgment become active. However, let us greet our children as individuals; not as creatures of our making to be molded willy nilly into little copies of ourselves, nor as superior beings who can do no wrong and who must express all the tendencies, good and bad, of which human nature is composite; but as equals in cosmic experience, requiring our guidance to adapt themselves to the conditions of the world.
Individuals, be it noted, are imbued as all things with a spark of the universal divinity, which, if encouraged to become paramount in the life, may so shine forth that their generation and those of the future will benefit by their having lived.
Let us then have done with the spectacles of opinion, belief, fashion and the like; and living in accord with what we know to be true, with all that we sense to be good, humanity will find itself welded into a conscious fraternity, with each unit in its proper place, yet all pointing with all others toward the true north.
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