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THE NEED FOR HEROES
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VOLUME XXXIX, NO. 16 APRIL 16, 1986 THE NEED FOR HEROES FOR a very small minority, two great questions have become one. They are: "What can I do about my own life?" and "What can I do about the course of present history?" Most people regard the second question as hopeless for the reason that there seems little or nothing one individual can do that will affect the large events which go on around him. Studies of what are regarded as popular opinion give them little reason to change their views. Mass opinion seems shaped by emotional response to the general trend of happenings, reflecting the dominant motivations of great masses of society, and these motivations are formed by habits of thought which often were centuries in the making. History, then, is beyond our reach, and it seems much more reasonable to do what we can about our own lives. There is surely some truth in this outlook, but is it the whole truth? If we have given attention to the study of past history and biography we may have good reason to think that there have been some individuals who, by reason of vision and extraordinary character, have actually altered the course of events, but we regard them—or used to regard them—as heroes and therefore unlikely to appear in the present. For the most part, people try to adapt their personal lives, more or less opportunistically, to what is going on, using what abilities we have as we can, sometimes with decency, sometimes not. As a sports commentator said recently concerning both professional and collegiate athletics, an activity which provides many of the young with their models, "The simple fact is that it is irrational for an athlete or a coach to behave ethically today." Musing in discouragement about the more general situation, Martin Buber, years ago, said: We are justified in regarding this disposition as a sickness of the human race. But we must not deceive ourselves by believing that the disease can be cured by formulae which assert that nothing is as the sick person imagines. It is an idle undertaking to call out, to a mankind that has grown blind to eternity: "Look! the eternal values!" You could call this an oblique comment on the fate of Socrates, who chose death, as he explained in the Crito, in preference to compromise of his "eternal values," which would be, he said, a betrayal of the city of Athens, to which he owed so much. Did Socrates have a hand in the shaping of history, despite his death at the hands of the Athenians? One could say that he had a hand in shaping the careers and decisions of other martyrs who knew and honored the Athenian gadfly's life, but they, too, were defeated by history. In short, we hardly know how to measure and evaluate the influence of Socrates, although we are bound to admire him. There is another approach to this question of "influence." A. H. Maslow, who sought and formulated the principles of health—mental and moral health—which he called "self-actualization," began his professional career as a behaviorist. But when his first baby was born, and he looked at and studied the infant, he began to wonder about the adequacy of John B. Watson's account of human beings. His next step came in the form of a particular "influence." In The Farther Reaches of Human Nature ("Self-Actualizing and Beyond"), he said: My investigations on self-actualization were not planned to be research and did not start out as research. They started out as the effort of a young intellectual to try to understand two of his teachers whom he loved, adored, and admired and who were very, very wonderful people. It was a kind of high-IQ devotion. I could not be content simply to adore, but sought to understand why these two people were so different from the run-of-the-mill people in the world. These two people were Ruth Benedict and Max Wertheimer. They were my teachers after I came with a Ph.D. from the West to New York City, and MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE 2 they were most remarkable human beings. My training in psychology equipped me not at all for understanding them. It was as if they were not quite people but something more than people. From this beginning Maslow developed a science of human excellence, of human achievement. He had himself an obvious effect on history; a growing number of people began thinking about human potentialities. It is time, perhaps, in this day of "mass" societies and the writing of history in terms of the endless detail of everyday enterprises and declining manners, to reread Carlyle's On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, first published in 1841. On its first page Carlyle declared, . . . Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here. They were the leaders of men these great ones; the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are properly the outer material result, the practical realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world: the soul of the whole world's history, it may justly be considered, were the history of these. Two years ago, in the Times Literary Supplement for April 20, 1984, John Clive, reviewing a new biography of Carlyle, concluded his remarks by saying: As for Carlyle's political ideas, one may readily agree with Mazzini's critique, that "the forms of government appear to him almost without meaning; such objects as the extensions of suffrage, the guarantee of any kind of political right, are evidently in his eyes pitiful things, materialism more or less disguised." But when Mazzini went on to remark, in a tone of incredulity, that what Carlyle seemed to require was that men should grow better, that the number of just men should increase, who among us, even while at first dismissing such a requirement as beyond reason, or Utopian, does not in some corner of his mind and heart share Carlyle's hope that such a change might indeed come about? And moreover Volume XXXIX, No. 16 that it might be worth working for? Do I sound like a missionary myself? It's all Carlyle's fault. What are human beings capable of? Since the eighteenth century, we have been told that selfinterest—the satisfaction of needs and appetites— is the whole story of our lives. The nineteenth century consolidated the tale by instructing us that the naked apes were our ancestors, to whom the rarest of our abilities are owed. We ourselves have done little or nothing in the accomplishment of evolution—it all took place from random causes, without plan or purpose, according to Charles Darwin. It may be a toss-up whether this is better or worse than to have been the creation of a whimsical and tyrannical Jehovah, who demanded only obedience of us, not understanding, and who turned us out of the Garden for caring to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Since that time, the great men of history have been embodied heresies, independent souls who found authority in themselves. The scientific revolution may have set us free from old beliefs, yet it provided no heroic models for us to live by, with all its rules contained in biology. What is a great man, then? A "sport of nature," an impressive accident. In Unfinished Animal, his book about the nature of man, Theodore Roszak spoke of the "secular consensus" which we all share, but is nonetheless wrong because "it does not go deep enough to touch what is most fundamental in human nature, and so it cannot understand our discontent or bring us fulfillment." It gives no real account of the potentialities of man. There is nothing to inspire or uplift either old or young. Roszak finds it necessary to go back five hundred years in European history for a conception of man that will serve us in this way—to the last half of the fifteenth century and the extraordinary figure of the Italian Revival of Learning—Pico della Mirandola. Pico lived but thirty-one years, yet in that time, as a learned man and educator, he challenged the doctors of the Church to debate with him nine hundred theses. Papal advisers, however, found numerous heresies in Pico's MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 3 contentions and the Pope forbade the debate, so that Pico could publish only his introduction or preface to the theses. It had the title, Oration on the Dignity of Man. In it, under the garb of allegory, he declared that the nature of man is determined by each one for himself. Unlike the animals, whose species types were fixed, man, he affirmed, could raise himself to divine stature or reduce himself lower than the brutes. In short, man creates himself. In Unfinished Animal, which came out in 1975, Roszak comments: In Pico's statement, we have, for the first time in the modern West a vision of human nature as unfulfilled potentiality, of life as an adventure in selfdevelopment. Humanness, Pico tells us, is not a closed door but an open door . . . leading to an open door. And he invites us to make our way through all these doors, discriminately experiencing the fullness of our identity. . . . He asks us to see ourselves as a grand spectrum of possibilities whose unexplored regions include the godlike as well as the diabolical. Had Pico's program for human development become, as he wished, the educational standard of our culture, Western society might have freed itself from the literalism and dogmatic intolerance of Christian orthodoxy, without rushing into the dismal materialism that dominates our scientific world view. We might have found our way into a new culture of the spirit, open to universal instruction, grounded in experience capable of liberating the visionary dimensions of the mind. But the fate of Pico's way was to become a dissenting counter-current to the cultural mainstream: either a saving remnant or a lunatic fringe, depending on one's viewpoint. But Pico's idea of man, while overshadowed by countless other influences, has not been entirely lost. In the twentieth century it was echoed by Ortega, in both a book and an article, who put the conception in language that is acceptable to the present generation. Man, he said, has two uniquely human powers. He does not only "react" to the circumstances and events of his life, but is able to withdraw within himself and reflect about himself and what he should do. The other power is to "take his stand within himself." These powers are not "gifts" but his intrinsic nature. "Nothing that is substantive has been conferred upon man. He has to do it all for himself." If, he Volume XXXIX, No. 16 goes on, we follow Descartes and adopt the view that we are thinking beings, we should find ourselves holding that man, by being endowed once and for all with thought, by possessing it with the certainty with which a constitutive and inalienable quality is possessed, would be sure of being a man as the fish is in fact sure of being a fish. Now this is a formidable and fatal error. Man is never sure that he will be able to carry out his thought—that is, in an adequate manner; and only if it is adequate is it thought. Or, in more popular terms, man is never sure that he will be right, that he will hit the mark. Which means nothing less than the tremendous fact that, unlike all other beings in the universe, man can never be sure that he is, in fact, a man, as the tiger is sure of being a tiger and the fish of being a fish. . . . While the tiger cannot cease being a tiger, cannot be detigered, man lives in perpetual risk of being dehumanized. With him, not only is it problematic and contingent, whether this or that will happen to him, as it is with other animals, but at times what happens to man is nothing less than ceasing to be man. And this is true not only abstractly and generically but it holds for our own individuality. Each one of us is always in peril of not being the unique and untransferable self which he is. The majority of men perpetually betray this self which is waiting to be; and to tell the whole truth our personal individuality is a personage which is never completely realized, a stimulating Utopia, a secret legend, which each of us guards in the bottom of his heart. It is thoroughly comprehensible that Pindar resumed his heroic ethics in the well-known imperative: "Become what you are." In short, people who rely on habit, on "doing what comes naturally," and who lack models—we have called models heroes after Carlyle—and are unaware of the fact that without effort toward self-improvement we shall almost certainly go downhill, have hardly accepted their responsibility as humans. We have been speaking of the need of our time for heroes. What then is a hero? There might be many answers, but in the memory of man the idea of the hero originated in what we call "mythology." Fortunately, mythology is no longer a discredited source—or much less so than in the recent past—so we go to Joseph Campbell's now MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 4 classic text, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, for an account of the first heroes. He says: The standard path of the mythological adventure of the .hero is a magnification of the formula represented in the rites of passage: separation— initiation—return. . . . A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow men. Prometheus ascended to the heavens, stole fire from the gods, and descended. Jason sailed through the Clashing Rocks into a sea of marvels, circumvented the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece, and returned with the fleece with the power to wrest his rightful throne from a usurper. Aeneas went down into the under-world, crossed the dreadful river of the dead, threw a sop to the three-headed watchdog Cerberus, and conversed, at last, with the shade of his dead father. All things were unfolded to him: the destiny of souls, the destiny of Rome, which he was about to found, "and in what wise he might avoid or endure every burden." He returned through the ivory gate to his work in the world. Some heroes are understood and loved, copied, and later worshipped. But Prometheus was unappreciated and cruelly punished by Zeus. 'There is true prophecy in this, since ingratitude is the portion of most Prometheans, especially in our own age. This was seen and understood by Eschylus as his play, Prometheus Bound, makes clear. As Eric Havelock explains in the essay which accompanies his translation of the drama from the Greek: Its actors, with varying degrees of irony or protest, all give witness that philanthropy is not requited, that the benefactor is evilly treated, that pity wins no pity in return, almost as though this were a historical law. It is not suggested by the victim that his benevolence was mistaken. He nowhere expresses regret for his policies. Rather, the drama seems designed to reconcile the Promethean to carry this burden of non-requital, as if it were a functional element in his task. And this is true. Working in actual history, the Promethean intellect can never be repaid in kind for its services, for if it were, the services would be recognized in the category of the Volume XXXIX, No. 16 familiar; and its objectives, to be familiar, would have to be short range. They would therefore lose that touch of imaginative science which makes them Promethean. The Promethean heroes, then, are doomed to punishment by the short-term thinking of the majority, who suppose they know what is the practical thing to do. But the Promethean is a fore-thinker whose understanding includes the universal processes of nature and who knows that his choice of accepting ingratitude is right, since the time will come when disaster will overtake his opponents in the form of a massive reaction by both man and nature against the short-term policies. Yet as Havelock says: . . . it remains true that in the development of man, "Zeus" has a headstart. The Controllers and Executives of this world by their very presence enjoy honor in this world, for that honor represents what they want and must have, in order to be what they are. The intellectual must by definition be pushed to the wall, because his science cannot be competitive. To compete for power would destroy his premises and his mental processes. So far as he does compete, he puts his own premises away from him. So, by that virtue which is his, he is called upon to bear an emotional burden which his rival does not have to shoulder. Every time he attempts a fresh effort at foresight he risks offense to the established chain of command. The only drama in modern times like the ordeal of Prometheus is the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor by Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov. Here the Inquisitor is the mastermind of the Establishment who rests his case on human weakness and appetite instead of the high and heroic potentiality hidden or latent in every human being. He drafts into his service those who combine managerial tendencies with a calculating psychology and execute his commands. The promoter and advertiser claims that his activity serves the rule of democratic decision in giving people what they want. He is only their servant, he says, although his offerings crowd out the entire range of intelligent alternatives. The choices he presents are limited to a monotonous MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 5 similarity in opportunities for self-indulgence and even waste. And eventually, through endless repetition, he comes to believe his own claims, declaring himself an altruist who has the good of the people at heart. But actually, he is no more than a tempter, an exploiter of gross appetite and a manipulator who gives direction to desire. Meanwhile, a small band of heroes remain immune to the appeals of these modern "inquisitors," who use the instruments of mass persuasion instead of brute force to obtain the conformity of all those who have become "consumers." The sixteenth-century poet and friend of Michel de Montaigne, Etienne de la Boetie, described in precise detail the difference between a conqueror and an exploiter by relating the astute policies of Cyrus, the Persian king of the first century B.C.: When news was brought to him that the people of Sardis had rebelled, it would have been easy for him to reduce them by force; but being unwilling either to sack such a fine city or to maintain an army there to police it, he thought of an unusual expedient for reducing it. He established in it brothels, taverns, and public games, and issued the proclamation that the inhabitants were to enjoy them. He found this type of garrison so effective that he never again had to draw the sword against the Lydians. Truly it is a marvelous thing that they let themselves be caught so quickly at the slightest tickling of their fancy. Plays, farces, spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, pictures, and other such opiates, these were for ancient peoples the bait toward slavery, the price of their liberty, the instruments of their tyranny. Not derring-do in battle, but self-restraint, was the heroism needed by the Lydians, and this quality, more than anything else, is what is needed in the heroes of today. Volume XXXIX, No. 16 MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 6 REVIEW EXTRA-SENSORY PERCEPTION WE have for review three books on parapsychology from McFarland & Co., Box 611, Jefferson, North Carolina 28640, a publisher which has apparently undertaken to issue material produced by Duke University's Psychology Department and the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man. The books are J. B. Rhine: On the Frontiers of Science, 1982, $19.95, edited by K. Ramakrishna Rao; The Basic Experiments in Parapsychology, 1984, $29.95, also edited by Rao; and Advances in Parapsychological Research IV, $29.95, edited by Stanley Krippner. Of the three, the most interesting for the general reader is the one on J. B. Rhine, since he is the man who did the pioneering research in extrasensory perception, and is by far the best known among parapsychologists. The other two books will be useful mainly to those who are active in this area of psychological research and wish to have available the bibliographies and summaries of investigations that they provide. The temper and hope of the parapsychologists, however is well stated by Evan Harris Walker in his Introduction to Advances in Parapsychological Research: Today the winds of change blow the sounds through the halls of science, beckoning tomorrow's revolution in paradigm. The signs are there not only in the evidence for the reality of psychic phenomena, but in the inadequacies of the current physicalistic paradigm for dealing with discoveries in physics and the needs of psychology. The change will come, in a revolution of our most basic understanding of the nature of reality—in an awareness of the connectedness that bonds us together, guiding our destiny. It is in that goal that we see the future of parapsychology. J. B. Rhine was the greatest leader this field of study has known. We may all hope that his importance not only as a visionary, but as a pivotal scientist, will be recognized universally. Rhine's ambition was that the essential nature of the person, the mind so neglected by behaviorists, would find its way to acceptance and respectability among Volume XXXIX, No. 16 psychologists, as well as to a wider audience. But we cannot hope that those in psychology who now so adamantly oppose everything parapsychology means will change their minds and open a rear door that we may enter, hat in hand. Revolution, as Kuhn reminds us, is the way science works. We must be ready to engage our opponents and to show why our ideas are superior to theirs. Either parapsychology is a harvest of false illusion or the meat and fiber of biology, the focus of psychology, and even the material conception of physics on which all science stands. In this the present paradigm must be replaced by a fuller, richer understanding of our ultimate nature. This statement of the position of the parapsychologists recalls the question raised in the first issue of the Journal of Parapsychology (March, 1937) by William McDougall who was responsible for the line of psychic research undertaken at Duke University. Does the truth lie, he asked, "with those few philosophers and scientists who, with or without some more or less plausible theory in support of their view, confidently reject well-nigh universal beliefs, telling us that the physical is coextensive with the mental and that the powers and potentialities of mind may be defined by the laws of the physical sciences?" The nonspecialized reader, knowing either from personal experience or from classical literature and history of the "well-nigh universal beliefs" in thought-transference (telepathy), clairvoyance, and prophecy, of which McDougall spoke, may wonder why so little attention is given to this enormous mass of testimony to what are now called "Psi" phenomena. The reason may be that for those brought up in the age of science, and exposed by education to the requirements of the scientific method, the riches of tradition prove little or nothing to a modern man. Yet for those uninstructed in this artificial skepticism, and sensibly reliant on common sense, the elaborate effort to demonstrate telepathy as a fact by producing evidence that will satisfy the scientific mind seems an excess of effort to prove what "everyone knows." Today, in these days of the declining prestige of the "hard sciences," this seems even more the case. So it is that the experiments described in this volume, so carefully MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 7 designed to prevent both error and fraud, may be of little interest to the general reader. Yet because of the subservience of the world of learning to scientific authority, workers in parapsychology regard the persuasion of other scientists as their main task. What does parapsychology include? In his Introduction to The Basic Experiments in Parapsychology, the editor, Ramakrishna Rao, says that "parapsychology is concerned with 'psychic' abilities that can be studied empirically; that is to say, it is concerned with those abilities that can be studied by observation and experimentation under controlled conditions." Parapsychology, then, is the systematic and scientific study of psi. The abilities that lend themselves to this scrutiny are broadly referred to as psi. Basically, two forms of psi are distinguished: extrasensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK). ESP is the ability to acquire information that is shielded from the senses; PK is the ability to influence external systems that are outside the sphere of one's motor activity. ESP is differentiated into telepathy (ESP of another's thoughts) and clairvoyance (ESP of external objects and events). Precognition and retrocognition refer to ESP of future and past events. The experiments regarded as especially significant are reported in this book. J. B. Rhine: On the Frontiers of Science is of interest in two ways. First, there are contributions from members of his family—his wife and eldest daughter—and close associates at Duke, where he and Mrs. Rhine had joined William McDougall in 1927; second, articles by a number of colleagues place him in the field of parapsychology as the pioneer in developing methods of research. Both he and his wife obtained Ph.D. degrees in botany in the University of Chicago. J. B. was religious in his youth, but in college he began to look critically at his inherited beliefs. "This led," she says in her chapter, "to complete disillusionment." He adopted "a thorough-going mechanistic outlook, an outlook that persisted for a period of years, including several in the Marine Volume XXXIX, No. 16 Corps" during World War I. Returning to college after the war, he began to wonder if the human spirit survived the death of the body. After attending some séances and having contact with mediums, while in graduate school, he decided that this was not a fruitful avenue of research. He turned to the question of whether human nature "includes any aspect beyond the physical." This remained the underlying theme of his lifetime of research. He decided to apply the scientific method, as he had learned it in the study of botany, to this question, but found that no jobs were open in the area of psychic research. Finally, because of his intense interest in the subject, he was invited by McDougall to join the psychology department at Duke University. McDougall thought well of him and he admired McDougall intensely. Rhine's daughter, Sara Feather, who also contributes a chapter, relates that he told her, speaking of McDougall, "This is the greatest man you will ever meet." Rhine was very much an outdoor man. Elizabeth McMahan, who as a student and worker had more than 37 years of close association with him, tells this story: Not long after I came to the Parapsychological Laboratory in 1943, Dr. Rhine learned that my father was having great difficulty during those war years in finding field hands to help with harvesting the sorghum cane that was the major cash crop on the family farm. It appeared that much of the cane would have to go unharvested. Dr. Rhine immediately arranged to spend a two-week "vacation" on our farm, working daily in the cane fields from dawn until long after dark, stripping the stalks, loading the cane carts, feeding the mill, canning the molasses. He did the hard physical work of three or four regular field hands. I can recall the way he motivated the other workers with his cheerful bantering and by his headlong example. In a chapter on Rhine in relation to the history of ideas, Brian Inglis recalls that early in this century the medical profession was quite convinced that there was no relation between mind and body and that bodily ills have only physiochemical causes. People with functional MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 8 diseases were said to be hysterical or neurotic. Inglis writes: How completely this grotesque idea captured the medical profession can be seen from the writings of the maverick F. G. Crookshank, who was forever reminding his colleagues that as people sweat from embarrassment and have bowel movements from nervous tension, it is absurd to reject out of hand the possibility that the emotions may precipitate skin disorders or colitis. "I often wonder," he remarked sadly in 1930—when Rhine was beginning his researches at Duke—"why some hard-boiled and orthodox clinician does not describe emotional weeping as a 'new disease,' call it paroxysmal lachrymation, and suggest treatment by belle donna. . . . Ludicrous though it might sound, a good deal of contemporary medicine and surgery seems to me to be on much the same level." What this shows is that psychical research, in order to stage a comeback, had to break through two layers of doubt. When people were being assured that their minds could in no way be responsible for the behavior of their bodies, how much more difficult it had become to accept the possibility that their minds might be able to transcend the barriers of space and time and still more that their minds might influence other bodies psychokinetically. How, then, did Rhine make his way with his teaching of ESP? His first book, Extra-Sensory Perception, published in 1934, had great impact, because it reached the general public, only shallowly affected by scientific and materialistic skepticism, and because, through the years, Rhine was not ashamed to write to and for non-specialized readers. A list of his writings shows contributions to several professional journals, but also to Forum, American Magazine, and American Weekly. And his thoughtful books kept coming out. He won over the public, who read and admired him, while most scientists, especially the psychologists, resisted his evidence. Meanwhile, the mathematicians approved his statistical techniques, and the validity of his work is now widely taken for granted, no matter what the psychologists say. This book on J. B. Rhine is both interesting and useful. Volume XXXIX, No. 16 MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 9 None of this is meant to claim that there was no drought, no famine in Africa. COMMENTARY AFRICAN DISASTER A BOOK that has come in for review has so much importance that we use this editorial space to tell about it at once. The title is Africa in Crisis, the author Lloyd Timberlake, an experienced journalist, the publisher New Society Publishers, the price in paperback $9.95 plus a shipping charge of $1.50, from the publishers at 4722 Baltimore Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19143. The first chapter tells briefly what it's about: What it does mean, country by country, is spelled out in detail in Africa in Crisis. This book explains how famine is not necessarily the result of drought, how people and policies cause drought, how drought reveals the misuse of natural resources and the vulnerability of the rural poor. . . . It examines the causes and cures of environmental degradation, and the background against which this degradation has occurred; debts, falling commodity prices, high interest rates, extreme population pressures, inappropriate aid . . . It dissects the roles of over-cultivation, overgrazing, deforestation, erosion and the decline of food production. It examines the fuelwood crisis and the misuse of water resources, and explains how Africa's environmental diseases and loss of wildlife are both a cause of and a symptom of the continent's decline. In each instance, it offers examples of places where Africans are setting things right, proving that the problems are not insoluble. As Mr. Timberlake puts it "In 1985, 30 million Africans were hungry because of the drought." In a "normal" year, 100 million Africans are malnourished and severely hungry. "So when do we declare a famine?" The bitter paradox of this question goes on and on: It is said that because of drought in Angola, one third of all children were dying before they reached the age of five. But one sixth of all children die before their first birthday in a "normal" year. The UN said that 10 million people had "been forced to abandon their homes and lands in search of food and water up to half of these are overcrowded in temporary shelters and large numbers have fled to urban areas." But in a "normal" year in Africa, hundreds of thousands of people abandon their homes and move into "temporary" shanties in the big cities. Volume XXXIX, No. 16 MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 10 CHILDREN . . . and Ourselves A YOUTH PROGRAM THAT WORKS THE generalized youth scene in the United States, as described by Paul Goodman in Growing Up Absurd twenty-six years ago, has changed hardly at all. Such books are in no way dated, save, perhaps, for the color and cultural backgrounds of the young. Goodman's point is that there are very few jobs which call out actual human capacity and in their fulfillment supply the worker with reason for selfrespect. As Goodman said in 1960: In our society, bright lively children, with the potentiality for knowledge, noble ideals, honest effort, and some kind of worth-while achievement, are transformed into useless and cynical bipeds, or decent young men trapped or early resigned, whether in or out of the organized system. My purpose is a simple one: to show how it is desperately hard these days for an average child to grow up to be a man, for our present organized system of society does not want men. They are not safe. They do not suit. Goodman, a perceptive and capable writer, understood this, but he was too intelligent to suppose that the youth he is writing about had the same understanding of their predicament. He believed, however, that they felt it, and responded in ways that might be expected: In despair, the fifteen-year-olds hang around and do nothing at all, neither work nor play. Without a worthwhile prospect, without a sense of justification, the made-play of the Police Athletic League is not interesting, it is not their own. They do not do their school work, for they are waiting to quit; and it is hard, as we shall see, for them to get parttime jobs. Indeed, the young fellows (not only delinquents) spend a vast amount of time doing nothing. They hang around together, but don't talk about anything, nor even—if you watch their faces— do they passively take in the scene. Conversely, at the movies, where the real scene is by-passed, they watch with absorbed fantasy, and afterward sometimes mimic what they saw. If there is nothing worth while, it is hard to do anything at all. When one does nothing, one is threatened by the question, is one nothing? Volume XXXIX, No. 16 Goodman shows how and why the conventional remedies seldom accomplish much, mainly because, being devised by people who are in the system, they are part of the system and largely in contradiction with what the young people need. There are, however, some rare and wonderful exceptions— instances in which the administrators involved have freedom to do what they believe in and think is right, and win the enthusiastic support of those who work with them. An example is the work of Joanna Lennon with the East Bay Conservation Corps, a privately organized and funded group which provides opportunity for work to young people in Oakland, Calif., and other East Bay cities. John Dreyfuss describes this activity in the Los Angeles Times for Nov. 21, 1985. He calls the East Bay Corps "a combination school and employment agency" which provides jobs for young people who "otherwise would very likely spend their lives on welfare, behind bars, dealing dope or, at best, serving hamburgers at fast food counters." Joanna Lennon, the 36-year-old director of the East Bay Corps since its beginning more than two years ago, spoke of its work as affording practical assistance to youth and also work on environmental problems in our deteriorating environment, "in a single package." Dreyfuss writes: East Bay Corps members are in their late teens to mid-20s. They include people like Charles Krauter, 19, who would be "broke and bumming around" without the East Bay Corps; Terry Lindsey, 18, who dropped out of high school and just "stayed at home," and James Kelley, 25, a respected crew leader, who shot a robber, was jailed and then got extra time for fighting. . . . the East Bay Corps is small (about 100 members) and privately sponsored. . . . Lennon estimates 20% of her corps members are on parole an average of eight get fired every month for offenses ranging from insubordination to smoking dope, and corps members themselves estimate that half of them smoke marijuana during breaks. While there is no "typical" corps member, they are mostly black (84%) and mostly male (77%). And, according to Lennon, they are mostly illiterate and unable to hold decent jobs when they first walk through the East Bay Corps' doors. . . . Joanna Lennon is now seeking more Latino, Asian, American Indian, and Anglo youths. The MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 11 East Bay community, she says, is made up of men and women of every color and she wants the conservation corps reflect the community. One goal of the East Bay Corps is to prepare its members for jobs, so they can be employed as something more than domestics, dishwashers, or fast food clerks. . . . The corps also strives to improve the environment in the widest sense of the word— everything from home life to wildlife. Most importantly, Lennon said, the corps seeks to improve such intangibles as self-esteem and quality of personal relationships of its members, and to give them an understanding of their communities and the importance of participation. "Our main objective here is to prepare young people for life. Getting a job is a kind of added benefit of that, but what we think is most important is for us to help corps members clarify their goals and objectives in every facet of their lives." Throughout the country, Dreyfuss says, there is an interest in establishing such corps because of the widespread unemployment of youth. Three fourths of the now existing corps in the U.S., which number 35, were founded during the past two years. The East Bay Corps was begun in 1983 by Richard Hammond, a San Francisco lawyer who worked in the Jerry Brown administration. He saw the need for the corps in the East Bay region around Oakland, raised the needed funds, and hired Joanna Lennon to get the corps going. The East Bay Conservation Corps charges fees for its services, bringing in 83% of its budget of $1.3 million. Private and government grants make up the rest. All observers agree that the program works and works well. Dreyfuss describes some of its features: The East Bay Corps requires at least one full, unpaid day a week of academic work to supplement the four paid days of physical labor, and the corps is raising money for an unusual, computerized, individualized learning center. "One of the things that makes the East Bay Conservation Corps a role model is that Joanna Lennon's staff is so very good, and she is such an excellent program director," said Peg Rosenberry, project director for the Human Environment Center, a Washington, D.C., information clearing house for conservation corps. "Her staff is so good because of its empathy for the kids and its real caring for where Volume XXXIX, No. 16 the kids are coming from and what they need to have to get them on a new road," Rosenberry said. Rosenberry noted that the East Bay Corps further serves as a national role model because it is the country's only year-round corps operating primarily on a fee-for-services basis. The principal advantage of the fee-for-service system—as opposed to the much more common, governmentally sponsored corps—is that a fee-for-service arrangement vastly increases independence from political pressures. The big disadvantage is that such programs have a less stable funding base than government programs. "We run like a business," Lennon said. "The community must buy into our program or we go out of business. To teach corps members that they must give to their community, they must be part of that community. Therefore the community must become part of our program by contracting with the corps for work, or we can't achieve our purpose." Dreyfuss reprints some of the testimonials from employers of the Corps. The director of the Yosemite Institute said: "What I did not realize at the time I agreed to the project was that when the East Bay Conservation Corps says they will work, they mean hard work. The total amount accomplished by your corps members in just over a day of work would take our small staff weeks to match, or literally thousands of dollars if done by outside contractors." The academic work of the members is on two nights a week and on Fridays when they attend classes which instruct in reading, writing, and math. Members whose work is below a certain grade level must take courses to improve themselves. They also learn how to use a measuring tape, write a check, use and care for tools, and do first aid. For most corps members, school is probably their most difficult responsibility. They struggle with the simplest academic tasks. The struggle is made easier by individualized study plans. Every corps member's lessons are tailored to his or her ability and background. See the Los Angeles Times for last Nov. 21 for a more complete report on Joanna Lennon and her work. MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 12 FRONTIERS News from England ACCORDING to the November-December Not Man Apart—which now comes out six times a year—the people of England are moving toward vegetarianism, with several motivations. The writer, Martin Stott, says that songs like "Meat is Murder" are "topping the charts" and a book, The Food Scandal, now on the bestseller list, discusses vested interests in the British food industry. On the defensive, the food industry has begun a campaign celebrating the nation as a country of "meat-eating John Bulls," while more astute firms are moving into the "whole food" and "health food" markets. Stott describes the coming of the new mood. Until the organized disruption of fox hunting, fur farming, and vivisection laboratories was orchestrated into moral panic headlines, vegetarians were portrayed as cranky and rather painfully ascetic non-conformists. A change in attitudes toward the production and consumption of food has shifted the consensus. . . . A recent opinion poll revealed that more than one and a half million Britons are now vegetarian, with another one and a half million foreswearing red meat. This number is increasing by 30 per cent a year, and the trend is particularly marked among women and the young. The push toward vegetarianism isn't propelled by conscience alone. The same poll recorded that 17 million people ate less meat last year than the year before, because of lower standards of living and Britain's high rate of coronary heart disease, the highest in the world. Another factor at work: The actions of animal liberation groups, who are often condemned for their attacks on the homes of animal experimenters, have led to questions about the ethics of respected scientific bodies. A break-in at experimental laboratories run by the prestigious Royal College of Physicians revealed evidence of systematic cruelty in experiments. The Royal College was later convicted of systematic cruelty charges, which were upheld on appeal. Whatever the reasons, the ground is beginning to shift, and politicians are taking notice. Volume XXXIX, No. 16 So is big business. "The Imperial Group, which is Britain's largest cigarette manufacturer, now produces the 'New Era' line of vitamin pills, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies." One way or another, change is taking place. Other news from England comes in the form of a page-long story in the London Sunday Times (Aug. 18, 1985) sent to us by a reader. The story is an interview with Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, arranged for by the Prince because of the subject proposed—his interest in and support of the Intermediate Technology Group founded twenty years ago by E. F. Schumacher and a few of his associates. The interview took place in the private garden of Kensington Palace, the Prince spotlessly dressed in conventional garb, the perfect image of an "Establishment Prince." But, the Times writer said, "his words are not those of the Establishment Prince: he is speaking of alternative attitudes to life, of his gentle, inner side, of why, again in his own words, that is where it all ultimately lies." Schumacher challenged the conventional economic views of the times, maintaining that the pursuit of power, of bigness, could destroy the Western way of life within fifty years. Later Small Is Beautiful, the title of Schumacher's seminal work and the book that first aroused Charles's interest, entered the language as a catchphrase that had come to epitomize the Schumacher ideal. But it was in the Third World where Schumacher's ideas were most far-reaching. He argued that traditional Western aid was ultimately harmful to the Third World, that it was merely robbing the poor of the rich countries to give to the rich of poor countries; there was little point of passing on modern Western technology to the Third World when only the rich and the powerful there would take advantage of it . . . Since Schumacher's death eight years ago the organization [Intermediate Technology Development Group] has grown in stature and now advises many of the more mainstream Third World charities—such as Oxfam, Christian Aid, and the Save the Children Fund, of which Charles's sister, Princess Anne is MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 13 president—on long-term, small, simple, cheap, peaceful solutions. Unable by reason of his demanding duties as prince to become involved in the work of the Intermediate Technology Group, Charles had nevertheless found that-in his travels he had been able to see things that others had not had opportunity to see. thinking of the Japanese agricultural sage, Masanobu Fukuoka. The contents of the Permaculture Activist are for readers looking for down-to-earth material—factual and educational. Indeed, his overseas trips in the past 10 years had reinforced his earlier interest in Schumacher, even though at the time "a lot of people poo-poohed it." But he had been able to see for himself "a lot of huge capital intensive projects, usually sophisticated technological developments, and so on," which were not necessarily what people living in poverty really needed or wanted. This, it turned out, was a recurring theme in Prince Charles's current thinking: that ordinary people, and not the powerful institutions, know best. . . . This did not just apply to the developing countries, either: we in the West had lessons to learn from Schumacher too. "I think that in the First World, we may have gone wrong in that area, in trying to make things on too large a scale, on having a rather bureaucratic solution to the whole thing. 'The expert professionals know best'—whereas in fact I believe they don't always." The interviewer concluded his long report: Within hours, he would be seen live by hundreds of millions of television viewers opening the Live Aid concert at Wembley. It would be another uncomfortably hot day, and all the television viewers would see would be that same Establishment, conformist prince in his dark suit and tie, and the sensible haircut: what they would not see would be the man inside. * * * The second issue of the Permaculture Activist, issued quarterly by the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA), located on a 23-acre farm on Whidbey Island in Washington state, is filled with usable information about nut and fruit trees. This paper gives expression to the themes developed by Bill Mollison, founder of the Permaculture movement which began years ago in Tasmania and Australia and has spread around the world. The activities are in harmony with the Volume XXXIX, No. 16 MANAS Reprint April 16, 1986 ...
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