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ENDURE HARDNESS., Issue 15685, 26 December 1914
This was the counsel of the groat. Apostle of the Gentiles to his spiritual fieri Timothy. It is a wise oouner.l. Age cannot ptn-le- it. nor any progress cancel its necessity. But to reach this difficult achievement ono nrust begin early. How early? Perhaps not just as early a«s Oliver Wendell Holmes advised a- lady who afked him whon she should begin the training of her child. "Madam."' ho replied, "yearsj before it is born." But certainly it should bo begun very shortly after birth. If it is delayed beyond the early years of school it will bo too late. That is just the peril of our time, and our country. Wo are glad to rco that the principals of two schools—a boys' and. a, girls'—have hem calling attention to it. Tho head master of tho Auckland Boys' Grammar School (Mr Tibhs, M.A.) lias been .saying thai boys pet far too much pocket-money, while tho lady principal of tho Girls' Grammar School (Miss Butler) agrees with him cntiivly. '/. lio girls get tram fares wlien the-y ■., light to walk ; and they get momey to buy a lunch because it ie too much bother at homo to cut the broad or to prepare; tho meal. They are, moreover, a.l- j lowed all sorts of indulgences by day and night—indulgences that air© not cdueativo or Tho " party," tho picture show, tho theatre, and the dance—all these a.ro permitted with a degree, of parental laxity that interferes sadly with the steady work of t.ha school, or, worsa than all, makes for the thinning or frittering away of character. Art) we any better down here? This, is a .Scotch community, and Bcotchinc.il bavo the reputation of thrillincfcs iu regard to money. Yet \vc do i;ot think that wo can throw stones at Auckland in this relation. Xo ono who looks at our hoys and girls, who sees the numIters of them riding in truincurs or crowding picture shows, or buying sweets, or indulging in costly expenditure of one sort and another, ran help concluding that mo>t of ihem have a yreai deal more money an<l indulgence than is good for ihem. '"Knduro hardness" is an injunction that most parents would do well to teach their children. Tho evils of the neglect of this are many and grave. We are not contending that no money should he given to children ; on the contrary, wo think that they should receive an allowance of their own. And they should be trained to the proper use of money: but they should not get such an amount as would leave them independent of self-denial. It shoidd increase only as character grows: otherwise it will be tiie ruin of character. We sometime:! think that it might lie a good thing if all boys and girls could be brought up in the country, and only permitted to come into the city onco or twice annually until they were, say, 15 years of age. As it is now, their sense of wonder is destroyed. They .see so many things, go to so many entertainments, get so many tovs of every kind that nothing surprises them. This loss of the sense of wonder is a. most grievous thing. There can be no more unlovely object than a young life untouched by the mystery of the universe. What a trial it is to school teachers to have children who have seen eo many things that they have almost lost interest I in anything. "I take it.'" says Emerson. •"' that the end of ah education is to touch the springs of wonder." ''Let others wrangle." writer, St. Augustine; "I will wonder." And this is a saying attributed to our Lord : '* He that wonders shall rule. - ; It is not in the Gospels, but it is as true as anything thai is t here. Lordship will be his who can keep alive through \ school days and the after years the sense I of wonder. But the indulgences which are permitted to many children are fatal to its development and growth. Or take, again, this toy business. Is it nut getting overdone? Walk through the shops thi< Christmas week and study the enormous number and variety of these, inventions. There is nothing to-day which man doe? that is not reproduced on a, miniature scale for tho child's playtime. We all know that the value of a book is not what it. actually gives, but what it snggc-l--. There are some writers who are so e'en'and cogent and conclusive that they leave nothing for the reader's own mind to do. The intellectual food has been reduced to pap. The educative value of such a writer is practically nil. And it is the same with toys. They are so numerous and complete that they are. a peril to the originality of the young. They leave nothing to their own initiative. We are convinced that the very perfection of this toy business is a menace to the imaginative and inventive powers of the mind. Everything comes too easily, and so there is no stimulus to wonder, originality, and imagination. And when you subtract these powers from the bruin what have you left that is worth keeping? # * * * * -x- * So we come back to the counsel of Mr TibVs and St Paul—Endure Hardness. Boys and L'irh will be none, tho worse, but all the better, if they are taught that they cannot get everything. It is well for them to 1.-.irn that rarly. We heard of a. boy to whom his mother once raid : " Now, '■Tommy, you know that if you're naughty "you can't go to heaven." And Tommy philosophically accepted the rituation. He Mid: "Well, I -was at tho circus last "week, and to a party and a pantomime "tho week before-. I suppose a boy can't "go everywhere." It is a century or thereabouts siiu'e Wordsworth, in one of his noblest sonnets, complained about the decay of "plain living and high thinking." We wonder what, he would say if he were with us to-day The growth of luxury is on- of the most marked feature of modern civilisation. Wo have reached iho point where- the means of satisfying our need* have gone far in advar.ro of the, needs themselves. And so luxury has becom-o a. modern disease. ******* What du wo mean by luxury? Not the posses-ion in abundance of the good- of life. Before we came to this Dominion the Maori, who had not a pair of boots, or .1 coal io his back, was not poor or even ill-otf. Now, if he ha.-, thorn not. he is both. To his ancestors the modern Maori would appear lusuriou-. So, aNn, the artisan of to-day, with his pipe and piano, his beef and his beer, would seem to his forefathers a century ago to he rolling in wealth ami the good things of i this life. Thus, luxury is a relative term. It is not determined by the amount of wealth possessed or expended. It is determined by the motive, and end that regulate; tho possession and expenditure. All such expenditure as increa-ei the moral well-being of the individual and tho community is legitimate. All that does not is criminal luxury. That, principle is farreaching. It covers «uch questions as hooks, pleasures, pictures, down to property and money. The question we huv-ft to ask is : Do Ihe?e. things contribute to the ethical culture of ourselves or others? If they do it is all right. If they do not they are illegitimate luxuries. Or we may put it in another way : Would wo enjoy our books, jewellery, dress, dinners, gardens, flowera, pictures, and so forth just til" faino if everybody else had them
—say our chimney sweep or our washerwoman? Jf not, then it ip obvious that thoy ar>o n<jt serving moral ends; they are only serving to put us in a eeparat* claes. Thoy are, in fact, valuable becauso oth-ersi cannot possess them. Thi« is the, euste cur#o that rends society asunder. It is the nogmlion of the spirit of brotherhood. It if; not ,i vic<> of tlio rich only. It is »Jao % vico of t-he poor. It is, jit fact, a vice" of all classes. It- is the, attempt* of multitudes in every walk of life to set ahead, of their fellows—not in character, but in possessions. This is arorfc of luxury that is growing amongst us, and which, if not checked by a- higher spirit, will yet wreck civilisation. Christianty condemns it in. the name of brotherhood, political economy in tlio namo of utility, and ethics in th-e name of righteouriKfs. Xono of these, however, rulo out, the pcxs&e.sfiion of boa-ntiful and costly things, but they all rule them out when pursued or poeacsaed for wrong ends or at wrong times. It was not a crime in Xoro to fiddle, hut it. was a crime for him to fiddle when Ronio war, ****■«■* * It is quite possible, that not the h:\ci of the good rwmlU that may come out of this war in Europe may be tho checking of this passion for luxury, which had been threatening our Empire. But if the next generation is to ha delivered from it, tho boys and girls of to-day must Ix- rightly educated. A littlo whil« ago there was much talk of the simple life. It was only a variation of the earlier phase of Wordsworth's " plain living and high thinking." There is need to reiterate these cotmsek. and there ie- no other plao« where it can be so effectively don.' as in the homos and tho schools. In China it- is s»aid that the great culprits have the choice of strangling themselves with a, silken cord or of choiring themselves, with gold leaf. It, is a- nice refine-ir.-ent of cruelty. But we- need n-ot go to China to find this method of do'troyins life It is in every day about our own doors. Roys and girls, votine men and. young women of power and promise, are. destroyed by the .-silver and the sold of too thoughtless or too indulgent parents. The wealth and possessions flowly acquired by eccnomical fathers audi ■mothers .are Id' 1 , in a lump f" children, who "nave never been through the school of oxperieiice. and whose, character is soft- and untaught. And f-o it- comes about that the coim-teno.* are fail of pro-n-iislns: Jivofi; strangled by the silver cord or the iruld leaf. The stream of existence runs strongly .down towards s'lf-innulc;-ence. It needs a, |iowerful will to dam it back. Rut it must- b- done if the individual and the nation aro to be saved. Long, long ago Herodotus; wrote: ". ! t is a. law of Nature "that faint-hearted men should be the "fruit of luxurious .countries. for we "never find that the same, soil produces "delicacies and heroes": and the lapse of the centuries has only added endk-.s:-: illustrations to the words of the. old Creek historian. It is a. living poet -William \V;,tson--who addresses to America the warning -. And as thou art vast, So are thy perils vast-, that oveiniorn In thine own House are bred; nor least of those That, fair and fell Delilah, Luxury. That .-hears the hero's strength :ivny. | and brings Palsv on nations. Flee her loveliness. For "in the end her kisses are a. sword. The principals of the Auckland Uraniumi Schools have, done well to ca.ll attention to this peril of pampered scholars, and tienecessity, if we would be. a strong nation, to .steadily set before us Wordsworth's ideal of "pla-in living and high thinking."
ENDURE HARDNESS., Issue 15685, 26 December 1914
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