« IndietroContinua »
sentiment, a deed, or a person, by which we become truly inspired. It is not the intellect, but the heart and will, through which and by which we are controlled. It is not the precepts of life, but life itself, by which alone we are begotten and born unto life.
"Now, there are two ways in which living power, personal power, the power of a will, may enter a soul and give it life; the one is when God's will works upon us, and the other when our wills work upon one another. God's will may directly penetrate ours, enabling us to will and to do of his good pleasure; and our own wills, thus inspired, may be the torch to kindle other wills with the same inspiration. It is in only one of these two ways that a human soul can be truly inspired; and, without a true inspiration, no amount of instruction, whether in duty, or life, or anything else, will change a single moral propensity."
Even though a Lincoln may rise above his hereditary position or his surroundings, they are the school in which he is trained; the gymnasium in which his mental and moral fibre is strengthened. Family and social life form thus the element of man's environment by which he is mostly moulded, and to which he most naturally and completely conforms. Let us therefore briefly trace the origin of this new element of man's environment, and then notice the effect upon him of conformity to its laws, and see whither these would lead him.
We have already seen that intra-uterine development of the young was being carried ever farther by mammals, and we found one explanation of this in the *Seelye: Christian Missions, p. 154.
fact that each mammalian egg represented a large amount of nutriment, and that the mammal had very little material to spare for reproduction. Very possibly, too, the newly hatched mammals were exposed to even more numerous and greater dangers than the young of birds. Even among lower mammals the young is feeble at birth. But the human infant is absolutely helpless. And the centre of its helplessness is its brain. Its eyes and ears are comparatively perfect, but its perceptions are very dim. Its muscles are all present, but it must very slowly and gradually learn to use them. Its language is but a cry, its few actions reflex. The new-born kitten may be just as helpless, but in a few weeks it will run and play and hunt, and after a few months can care for itself. Not so the child. It must be cared for during months and years before it can be given independence. Its brain is so marvellously complex that it is finished as a thinking and willing and muscle-controlling mechanism only long after birth. This means a period of infancy during which the young clings helplessly to the mother, who is its natural protector. And during this period the mother and young have to be cared for and protected by the male. And the period of infancy and the protection of the female and young are just as truly, though in far less degree, characteristic of the highest apes as of man.
I can give you only this very condensed and incomplete abstract of Mr. John Fiske's argument; you must read it for yourself in his "Destiny of Man." And as he has there shown, this can have but one result, and that is the family life of man. And we may yet very possibly have to acknowledge that family life of a very low
grade is just as truly characteristic of the higher apes as of lower man. And thus the family life of man is the physiological result of, and rooted in, mammalian
And the benefits of family life are too great and numerous to even enumerate. First of all the family is the school of unselfishness. All the love of the parent is drawn out for the helpless and dependent child, and grows as the parent works and thinks for it. And the child returns a fraction of his parents' love. Within the close bond of the family the struggle for place and opportunity is replaced by mutual helpfulness; and this doing and burden-bearing with and for each other is a constant exercise in the practice of love. And with out this mutual love and helpfulness the family cannot exist.
And slowly man begins to apply the lessons learned in the family to other relations with partners, neighbors, and friends. Slowly he discovers that an entirely selfish life defeats its own ends. A voice within him tells him continually that love is better than selfishness and ministering better than being ministered unto. dawns upon him that it is against the nature of things that other people should be so selfish and grasping; a few begin to apply the moral to themselves, and a few of these to act accordingly.
And what a change the few steps which man has taken in this direction have wrought in his life. Says Professor Huxley: "In place of ruthless self-assertion it demands self-restraint, in place of thrusting aside or treading down all competitors, it requires that the individual shall not merely respect, but shall help his fellows; its influence is directed not so much to the sur
vival of the fittest as to the fitting of as many as possible to survive. It repudiates the gladiatoral theory of existence."
It is a vast change from the "gladiatorial theory to that of "mutual helpfulness." Call it a revolution, if you will. Revolutions are not unheard of in the history of the animal kingdom any more than in human history. We have seen, first, digestion and reproduction on the throne of animal organization, then muscle, and finally brain. Each of these changes is in one sense a revolution.
A little before the summer solstice the earth is whizzing away from the sun; a few weeks later it is whizzing with equal rapidity in almost the opposite direction. In the very nature of things it could not be otherwise. But so silently and gradually does it come about that we never feel the reversal of the engine; indeed the engine has not been reversed at all. Very similar is the change of the struggle of brute against brute to that of man for man. Indeed human development seems now to be almost at such a solstice where the power that makes for love is almost exhausted in opposing the tendency toward selfishness. We shall not always stay at the solstice; soon we shall make more rapid progress. And unselfishness like the family relation is firmly rooted in mammalian structure.
And man owes almost everything to family life. First the child gains the advantage of the parent's experience. He is educated by the parent. In a few formative and receptive years he gains from the parent the results of centuries of human experience. The process is thus cumulative, the investment bears compound interest. And yet this is peculiar to man only
in degree. Have you never watched a cat train her kittens? And the education of the child in the savage family is very incomplete.
The family is the first and fundamental of all higher social and political unities. And without the persistence of the family the larger social unit would become an inert mass. All the individual ambition, all desire for family advancement, must be retained as still a motive for energetic advance. And all the training which social life can give reaches the individual most effectively, or solely, through the family. Society without the family would be like an army without company or regimental organization. Thus the very existence, not only of training in love and mutual helpfulness, but even of society itself as a mere organization, depends upon the existence and improvement of family life. And as so much depended upon and resulted from it, it could not but be fostered and improved by natural selection. The tribe or race with the best family life has apparently survived. But all social animals have some means of communicating very simple thoughts or perceptions. The simplest illustrations of this are the calls and warning cries of mammals and birds. It is not impossible that the higher mammals have something worthy of the name of language. But man alone, with his better brain and better anatomical structure of throat and mouth, and the closer interdependence with his fellows, has attained to articulate speech. And this again has become the bond to a still closer union.
Now our only question is, How does social life enable and aid man to conform to environment? We are interested not so much in his happiness as in his progress.