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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/392

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

effort, therefore, on the part of the schools has uniformly been to enable the child, when grown to manhood, to successfully guard his own interests and secure his personal ends. There has been no general or continued effort to so train and so develop him that he will contribute to the welfare of society. The result has been to center and to fasten his attention upon his personal interests, and to cultivate in him selfishness instead of an altruistic spirit, which is the truly social spirit, and which alone will produce harmony among the classes now in collision. Why has the child been taught to read, to write, to cipher? Primarily because a knowledge of these has seemed to be absolutely essential in securing his so-called rights among his fellows. Only recently has his relation to society been seriously considered. His ethical side is now demanding cultivation more loudly than ever. So far as education is purely intellectual, it only trains him for a fiercer part in the great human struggle for personal ends, and tends to diminish the severity of that struggle in such degree only as purely intellectual culture indirectly contributes to the ethical, through attention to subjects related to the ethical.

Back of all social discontent, back of all forms in which it appears, we find the primary cause of social disorders in the presence of erroneous ideas among men, particularly the presence of erroneous notions concerning the relations which exist among men. There are certain fundamental ideas upon which the social edifice is built—pivotal ideas about which the social world turns. In each of these ten thousand others germinate; and the ten thousand are wrong if the one is wrong. The following are examples of these erroneous, fundamental, pivotal ideas, which have become stock notions of the people: Cæsars and Napoleons are civilizers; royalty is related to the gods; the Creator made some to be served, others to serve; legality is justice; standard belief is more important than standard character; morality divorced from religion is dangerous. Any social structure founded upon such ideas alone is a monstrosity. To-day we stand face to face with the fact that these very ideas, and others like unto them, form a very large part—entirely too large a part—of the foundation of modern society.

All existing governments and all other institutions have been at some time simply abstract ideas in somebody's brain, and afterward have become concrete realities; right ideas giving birth to right institutions, wrong ones to wrong institutions. This same relation of cause and effect which exists between ideas and institutions, exists also between ideas and the character of individuals, and between ideas and the character of the relations which exist among individuals. Just so far as individual character and existing relations among men are right, they are the product of