book5 by fjhuangjun


									1. Hit the Nail on the Head
         Alan Warner
      Have you ever watched a clumsy man hammering a nail into a box? He hits it
first to one side, then to another, perhaps knocking it over completely, so that in the
end of he only gets half of it into the wood. A skillful carpenter, on the other hand,
will drive home the nail with a few firm, deft blows, hitting it each time squarely on
the head. So with language; the good craftsman will choose words that drive home his
point firmly and exactly. A word that is more or less right, a loose phrase, an
ambiguous expression, a vague adjective, will not satisfy a writer who aims at clean
English. He will try always to get the word that is completely tight for his purpose.
      The French have an apt phrase for this. They speak of “le mot juste”, the word
that is just right. Stories are told of scrupulous writers, like Flaubert, who spent days
trying to get one or two sentences exactly right. Words are many and various; they are
subtle and delicate in their different shades of meaning, and it is not easy to find the
ones that express precisely what we want to say. It is not necessary to think hard and
to observe accurately. Choosing words is part of the process of realization of defining
our thoughts and feelings for ourselves, as well as for those who hear or read our
words. Someone once remarked: “How can I know what I think till I see what I say?”
This sounds stupid, but there is a great deal of truth in it.
      It is hard work choosing the right words, but we shall be rewarded by the
satisfaction that finding them brings. The exact use of language gives us mastery over
the material we are dealing with. Perhaps you have been asked “What sort of a man is
so-and-so?” You begin: “Oh, I think he‟s quite a nice chap but he‟s rather…” and then
you hesitate trying to find a word or phrase to express what id is about him that you
don‟t like, that constitutes his limitation. When you find the right phrase you feel that
your conception of the man is clearer and sharper….
      Some English words have a common root but are used in very different senses.
Consider human and humane, for example. Their origin is the same and their
meanings are related, but their usage is distinct. A human action is not the same thing
as a humane action. We cannot speak of a Declaration of humane rights. — There is
a weapon called a humane killer, but it is not a human killer.
      We don‟t have to look far afield to find evidence of bad carpentry in language. A
student, replying to an invitation to dinner, finished his letter: “I shall be delighted to
come and I am looking forward to the day with anxiety.” Anxiety carries with it
suggestions of worry and fear. What the writer meant was possibly eagerness. Anxiety
has some kinship with eagerness but it will not do as a substitute in this context.
      The leader of a political party in Uganda wrote a letter to the Press which
contained this sentence:
            Let us all fight this selfishness, opportunism, cowardice and ignorance now
      rife in Uganda and put in their place truth, manliness, consistency and singularity
      of mind.
      This stirring appeal is spoilt by a malapropism in the last phrase, the word
singularity. What the writer meant, I think, was singleness of mind, holding
steadfastly to the purpose in mind, without being drawn aside by less worthy objects.

Singularity means oddity or peculiarity, something that singles a man out from other
      Without being a malapropism, a word may still fail to be the right word for the
writer‟s purpose, the “mot juste”. A journalist, writing a leader Christmas, introduced
a quotation from Dickens by saying:
           All that was ever thought or written Christmas is imprisoned in this
Imprisonment suggests force, coercion, as if the meaning were held against its will. It
would be better to write contained or summed up. Epitomized might do, though it is
rather a clumsy-sounding word. Searching a little farther for the “mot juste” we might
hit on the word distilled. This has more force than contained or summed up.
Distillation suggests essence and we might further improve the sentence by adding
this word at the beginning.
           The essence of all that was ever thought or written about Christmas is
distilled in this sentence.
English has a wide vocabulary and it is a very flexible language. There are many
different ways of making a statement. But words that are very similar in meaning
have fine shades of difference, and a student needs to be alive to these differences. By
using his dictionary, and above all by reading, a student can increase his sensibility to
these shades of difference and improve his ability to express his own meaning exactly.
      Professor Raleigh once stated: “There are no synonyms, and the same statement
can never be repeated in a changed form of words.” This is perhaps too absolute, but
it is not easy to disprove. Even a slight alteration in the wording of a statement can
subtly shift the meaning. Look at these two sentences:
      (1) In my childhood I loved to watch trains go by.
      (2) When I was a child I loved watching trains go by.
At first glance these two sentences are exactly the same. But look more closely and
you will see that there are very tiny differences. In my childhood is a shade more
abstract than When I was a child. Watching perhaps emphasizes the looking at trains a
little more than to watch. This is a very subtle example, and it would be possible to
argue about it, but everyone would at once agree that there is a marked difference
between the next two statements:
      (1) He died poor.
      (2) He expired in indigent circumstances.
In one sense expired is a synonym for died and in indigent circumstances for poor, but
when the whole statement is considered, we cannot maintain that the two are the same.
The change in words is a change in style, and the effect on the reader is quite different.
It is perhaps easier to be a good craftsman with wood and nails than a good craftsman
with words, but all of us can increase our skill and sensibility with a little effort and
patience. In this way we shall not only improve our writing, but also our reading….
      English offers a fascinating variety of words for many activities and interests.
Consider the wide range of meanings that can be expressed by the various words we
have to describe walking, for example. We can say that a man is marching, pacing,
patrolling, stalking, striding, treading, tramping, stepping out, prancing, strutting,

prowling, plodding, strolling, shuffling, staggering, sidling, trudging, toddling,
rambling, roaming, sauntering, meandering, lounging, loitering, or creeping.
      The foreign student of English may be discouraged and dismayed when he learns
that there are over 400,000 words in the English language, without counting slang.
But let him take courage. More than half of these words are dead. They are not in
current use. Even Shakespeare used a vocabulary of only some 20,000 words. The
average Englishman today probably has a vocabulary range from 12,000 to 13,000
words. It is good to make your vocabulary as complete as you can, but a great deal
can be said and written with a vocabulary of no more than 10,000 words. The
important thing is to have a good control and command over the words you do know.
Better know two words exactly than three vaguely. A good carpenter is not
distinguished by the number of his tools, but by the craftsmanship with which he uses
them. So a good writer is not measured by the extent of his vocabulary, but by his
skill in finding the “mot juste”, the word that will hit the nail cleanly on the head.

                                                         From: Alan Warner, pp. 34-38.

2. Beware the Dirty Seas
             Geoffrey Lean
      Every year 100 million holiday-makers are drawn to the Mediterranean. With
one-third of the world‟s tourist trade, it is the most popular of all the holiday
destinations; it is also the most polluted.
      It has only 1 per cent of the world‟s sea surface, but carries more than half the oil
and tar floating on the water. Thousands of factories pour their poison into the
Mediterranean, and almost every city, town and village on the coast sluices its sewage,
untreated, into the sea.
      The result is that the Mediterranean, which nurtured so many civilization, is
gravely ill — the first of the seas to fall victim to the abilities and attitudes that
evolved around it. And the pollution does not merely stifle the life of the sea — it
threatens the people who inhabit and visit its shores.
      Typhoid, paratyphoid, dysentery, polio, viral hepatitis and food poisoning are
endemic in the area, and there are periodic outbreaks of cholera.
      The mournful litany of disease is caused by sewage. Eighty-five per cent of the
waste from the Mediterranean‟s 120 coastal cities is pushed out into the waters where
their people and visitors bathe and fish. What is more, most cities just drop it in
straight off the beach; rare indeed are the places like Cannes and Tel Aviv which pipe
it even half a mile offshore.
      Less than 100,000 of Greece‟s four million coastal people have their sewage
properly treated — and Greece, as our map show, is one of the cleaner countries of
the northern shore.
      The worst parts of the sea are the Israeli/ Lebanon coast and between Barcelona
and Genoa, which flushes out over 200 tons of sewage each year for every mile of its

       Not surprisingly, vast areas of the shallows are awash with bacteria and it doesn‟t
take long for these to reach people. Professor William Brumfitt of the Royal Free
Hospital once calculated that anyone who goes for a swim in the Mediterranean has a
one in seven change of getting some sort of disease. Other scientists say this is an
overestimate; but almost all of them agree that bathers are at risk.
       An even greater danger lurks in the seductive seafood dishes that add so much
interest to holiday menus. Shellfish are prime carriers of many of the most vicious
diseases of the area.
       They often grow amid pollution. And even if they don‟t they are frequently
infected by the popular practice of “freshening them up”— throwing filthy water
over them in markets.
       Industry adds its own poisons. Factories cluster round the coastline, and even the
most modern rarely has proper waste-treatment plant. They do as much damage to the
sea as sewage.
       Fifteen thousand factories foul the Italian Ligurian riviera. Sixty thousand pollute
the Tyrrhenian Sea between Sardinia, Sicily and the west Italian coast! The lagoon of
Venice alone receives the effluents of 76 factories.
       More filth comes washing down the rivers from industries far inland. The Po and
the Rhone are the dirtiest, followed by the Ebro and the Llobregat in Spain, by the
Adige and the Tiber in Italy, and by the Nile.
       Thousands of tons of pesticides are blown off the fields into the sea, detergents
from millions of sinks kill fish, and fertilizers, flushed out to sea, nourish explosions
of plankton which cover bathers with itchy slime.
       Then there is the oil — 350,000 tons pouring each year from ships, 115,000
tons more from industries round the shore. Recent studies show that the
Mediterranean is four times as polluted by oil as the north Atlantic, 40 times as bad as
the northeast Pacific.
       Apart from the nine-mile-wide Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean is
landlocked, virtually unable to cleanse itself. It takes 80 years for the water to be
renewed, through the narrow, shallow straits, far too slow a process to cope with the
remorseless rush of pollution.
       Weak coastal currents keep sewage and industrial waste close to the shore and
gently spin floating oil and tar towards the beaches. And the sea‟s feeble tides can do
little to help remove it.
       Of course, the people of the Mediterranean have always used the sea for their
wastes. The canals of Venice, the waters of the Bosphorus and the sea off the Nile
Delta have been health hazards for centuries.
       But the pollution has increased round the shores to 100 million and a further 100
million tourists come annually. The population of the French and Italian rivieras
trebles every summer.
       Three tourists visit the northern shore every year for every yard of beach. With
the numbers of holiday-makers expected to double in the next 20 years, it is hard for
even the best treatment plants to cope.
       The good news is that the countries of the Mediterranean have been coming

together to work out how to save their common sea.
     But it will be a long time before the measures they approved take effect in
cleaning up the sea.

                                           From: S. Greenall and M. Swan, pp. 92-95.

3. My Friend, Albert Einstein
        Banesh Hoffmann
     He was one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known, yet if I had to
convey the essence of Albert Einstein in a single word, I would choose simplicity.
Perhaps an anecdote will help. Once, caught in a downpour, he took off his hat and
held it under his coat. Asked why, he explained, with admirable logic, that the rain
would damage the hat, but his hair would be none the worse for its wetting. This
knack for going instinctively to the heart of a matter was the secret of his major
scientific discoveries — this and his extraordinary feeling for beauty.
     I first met Albert Einstein in 1935, at the famous Institute for Advanced Study in
Princeton, N.J. He had been among the first to be invited to the Institute, and was
offered carte blanche as to salary. To the director‟s dismay, Einstein asked for an
impossible sum: it was far too small. The director had to plead with him to accept a
larger salary.
     I was in awe of Einstein, and hesitated before approaching him about some ideas
I had been working on. When I finally knocked on his door, a gentle voice said,
“Come” — with a rising inflection that made the single word both a welcome and a
question. I entered his office and found him seated at a table, calculating and smoking
his pipe. Dressed in ill-fitting clothes, his hair characteristically awry, he smiled a
warm welcome. His utter naturalness at once set me at ease.
     As I began to explain my ideas, he asked me to write the equations on the
blackboard so he could see how they developed. Then came the staggering — and
altogether endearing — request: “ Please go slowly. I do not understand things
quickly.” This from Einstein! He said it gently, and I laughed. From then on, all
vestiges of fear were gone.
     Einstein was born in 1879 in the German city of Ulm. He had been no infant
prodigy; indeed, he was so late in learning to speak that his parents feared he was a
dullard. In school. Though his teachers saw no special talent in him, the sign were
already there. He taught himself calculus, for example, and his teachers seemed a little
afraid of him because he asked questions they could not answer. At the age of 16, he
asked himself whether a light wave would seem stationary if one ran abreast of it.
From that innocent question would arise, ten years later, his theory of relativity.
     Einstein failed his entrance examinations at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic
School, in Zurich, but was admitted a year later. There he went beyond his regular
work to study the masterworks of physics on his own. Rejected when he applied for
academic positions, he ultimately found work, in 1902, as a patent examiner in Berne,
and there in 1905 his genius burst into fabulous flower.

      Among the extraordinary things he produced in that memorable year were his
theory of relativity, with its famous offshoot, E=mc2(energy equals mass times the
speed of light squared), and his quantum theory of light. These two theories were not
only revolutionary, but seemingly contradictory: the former was intimately linked to
the theory that light consists of waves, while the latter said it consists somehow of
particles. Yet this unknown young man boldly proposed both at once — and he was
right in both cases, though how he could have been is far too complex a story to tell
      Collaborating with Einstein was an unforgettable experience. In 1937, the Polish
physicist Leopold Infeld and asked if we could work with him. He was pleased with
the proposal, since he had an idea about gravitation waiting to be worked out in detail.
Thus we got to know not merely the man and the friend, but also the professional.
      The intensity and depth of his concentration were fantastic. When battling a
recalcitrant problem, he worried it as an animal worries its prey. Often, when we
found ourselves up against a seemingly insuperable difficulty, he would stand up, put
his pipe on the table, and say in his quaint English, “I will a little tink”(he could not
pronounce “th”). Then he would pace up and down, twirling a lock of his long,
graying hair around his forefinger.
      A dreamy, faraway and yet inward look would come over his face. There was no
appearance of concentration, no furrowing of the brow — only a placid inner
communion. The minutes would pass, and then suddenly Einstein would stop pacing
as his face relaxed into a gentle smile. He had found the solution to the problem.
Sometimes it was so simple that Infeld and I could have kicked ourselves for not
having thought of it. But the magic had been performed invisibly in the depths of
Einstein‟s mind, by a process we could not fathom.
      When his wife died he was deeply shaken, but insisted that now more than ever
was the time to be working hard. I remember going to his house to work with him
during that sad time. His face was haggard and grief-lined, but he put forth a great
effort to concentrate. To help him, I steered the discussion away from routine
matters into more difficult theoretical problems, and Einstein gradually became
absorbed in the discussion. We kept at it for some two hours, and at the end his eyes
were no longer sad. As I left, he thanked me with moving sincerity. “It was a fun,” he
says. He had had a moment of surcease from grief, and then groping words expressed
a deep emotion.
      Einstein was an accomplished amateur musician. We used to play duets, he on
the violin, I at the piano. One day he surprised me by saying Mozart was the greatest
composer of all. Beethoven “created” his music, but the music of Mozart was of such
purity and beauty one felt he had merely “found” it — that it had always existed as
part of the inner beauty of the Universe, waiting to be revealed.
      It was this very Mozartean simplicity that most characterized Einstein‟s methods.
His 1905 theory of relativity, for example, was built on just two simple assumptions.
One is the socalled principle of relativity, which means, roughly speaking, that we
cannot tell whether we are at rest or moving smoothly. The other assumption is that
the speed of light is the same no matter what the speed of the object that produces it.

You can see how reasonable this is if you think of agitating a stick in a lake to create
waves. Whether you wiggle the stick from a stationary pier, or from a rushing
speedboat, the waves, once generated, are on their own, and their speed has nothing to
do with that of the stick.
      Each of these assumptions, by itself, was so plausible as to seem primitively
obvious. But together they were in such violent conflict that a lesser man would have
dropped one or the other and fled in panic. Einstein daringly kept both — and by so
doing he revolutionized physics. For he demonstrated they could, after all, exist
peacefully side by side, provided we gave up cherished beliefs about the nature of
      Science is like a house of cards, with concepts like time and space at the lowest
level. Tampering with time brought most of the house trembling down, and it was this
that made Einstein‟s work so important — and controversial. At a conference in
Princeton in honor of his 70th birthday, one of the speakers, a Nobel Prize winner,
tried to convey the magical quality of Einstein‟s achievement. Words failed him, and
with a shrug of helplessness he pointed out to his wristwatch, and said in tones of
awed amazement, “It all came from this”. His very ineloquence made this the most
eloquent tribute I have heard to Einstein‟s genius….
      Einstein‟s work, performed quietly with pencil and paper, seemed remote from
the turmoil of everyday life: But his ideas were so revolutionary they caused violent
controversy and irrational anger. Indeed, in order to be able to award him a belated
Nobel Prize, the selection committee had to avoid mentioning relativity, and pretend
the prize was awarded primarily for his work on the quantum theory.
      Political events upset the serenity of his life even more. When the Nazis came to
power in Germany, his theories were officially declared false because they had been
formulated by a Jew. His property was confiscated, and it is said a price was put on
his head.
      When scientists in the United States, fearful that the Nazis might develop an
atomic bomb, sought to alert American authorities to the danger, they were scarcely
heeded. In desperation, they drafted a letter which Einstein signed and sent directly to
President Roosevelt. It was this act that led to the fateful decision to go all-out on the
production of an atomic bomb — an endeavor in which Einstein took no active part.
When he heard of the agony and destruction that his E=mc2 had wrought, he was
dismayed beyond measure, and from then on there was a look of ineffable sadness in
his eyes.
      There was something elusively whimsical about Einstein. It is illustrated in my
favorite anecdote about him. In his first year in Princeton, on Christmas Eve, so the
story goes, some children sang carols outside his house. Having finished, they
knocked on his door and explained they were collecting money to buy Christmas
presents. Einstein listened, then said, “Wait a moment.” He put on his scarf and
overcoat, and took his violin from its case. Then, joining the children as they went
from door to door, he accompanied their singing of “Silent Night” on his violin.
      How shall I sum up what it meant to have known Einstein and his work? Like the
Nobel Prize winner who pointed helplessly at his watch, I can find no adequate words.

It was akin to the revelation of great art that lets one see what was formerly hidden.
And when, for example, I walk on the sand of a lonely beach, I am reminded of his
ceaseless search for cosmic simplicity — and the scene takes on a deeper, sadder

                               From: X. J. Kennedy and D. M. Kennedy, pp. 139-145.

4. The Invisible Poor
          Michael Harrington
      The millions who are poor in the United States tend to become increasingly
invisible. Here is a great mass of people, yet it takes an effort of the intellect and will
even to see them.
      I discovered this personally in a curious way. After I wrote my first article on
poverty in America, I had all the statistics down on paper. I had proved to my
satisfaction that there were around 50,000,000 poor in this country. Yet, I realized I
did not believe my own figures. The poor existed in the Government reports; they
were percentages and numbers in long, close columns, but they were not part of my
experience. I could prove that the other America existed, but I had never been there.
      There are perennial reasons that make the other America an invisible land.
      Poverty is often off the beaten track. It always has been. The ordinary tourist
never left the main highway, and today he rides interstate turnpikes. He does not go
into the valleys of Pennsylvania where the towns look like movie sets of Wales in the
thirties. He does not see the company houses in rows, the rutted roads (the poor
always have bad roads whether they live in the city, in towns, or on farms), and
everything is black and dirty. And even if he were to pass through such a place by
accident, the tourist would not meet the unemployed men in the bar or the women
coming home from a runaway sweatshop.
      Then, too, beauty and myths are perennial masks of poverty. The traveler comes
to the Appalachians in the lovely season. He sees the hills, the streams, the foliage —
but not the poor. Or perhaps he looks at a run-down mountain house and,
remembering Rousseau rather than seeing with his eyes, decides that “those people”
are truly fortunate tensions of the middle class. The only problem is that “those
people”, the quaint inhabitants of those hills, are undereducated, underprivileged, lack
medical care, and are in the process of being forced from the land into a life in the
cities, where they are misfits.
      These are normal and obvious causes of the invisibility of the poor. They
operated a generation ago; they will be functioning a generation hence. It is more
important to understand that the very development of American society is creating a
new kind of blindness about poverty. The poor are increasingly slipping out of the
very experience and consciousness of the nation.
      If the middle class never did like ugliness and poverty, it was at least aware of
them. “Across the tracks” was not a very long way to go. There were forays into the
slums at Christmas time; there were charitable organizations that brought contact with

the poor. Occasionally, almost everyone passed through the Negro ghetto or the
blocks of tenements, if only to get downtown to work or to entertainment.
      Now the American city has been transformed. The poor still inhabit the
miserable housing in the central area, but they are increasingly isolated from contact
with, or sight of, anyone else. Middle-class women coming in from Suburbia on a rare
trip may catch the merest glimpse of the other America on the way to an evening at
the theater, but their children are segregated in suburban schools. The business or
professional man may drive along the fringes of slums in a car or bus, but it is not an
important experience to him. The failures, the unskilled, the disabled, the aged, and
the minorities are right there, across the tracks, where they have always been. But
hardly anyone else is.
      In short, the very development of the American city has removed poverty from
the living, emotional experience of millions upon millions of middle-class American.
Living out in the suburbs, it is easy to assume that ours is, indeed, an affluent society.
      This new segregation of poverty is compounded by a well- meaning ignorance. A
good many concerned and sympathetic American are aware that there is much
discussion of urban renewal. Suddenly, driving through the city, they notice that a
familiar slum has been torn down and that there are towering, modern buildings where
once there had been tenements or hovels. There is a warm feeling of satisfaction, of
pride in the way things are working out: the poor, it is obvious, are being taken care
      The irony in this… is that the truth is nearly the exact opposite to the impression.
The total impact of the various housing programs in postwar America has been to
squeeze more and more people into existing slums…. Clothes make the poor invisible
too: the benefits of mass production have been spread much more evenly in this area
than in many others. It is much easier in the United States to be decently dressed that
it is to be decently housed, fed, or doctored. Even people with terribly depressed
incomes can look prosperous.
      This is an extremely important factor in defining our emotional and existential
ignorance of poverty. In Detroit the existence of social classes became much more
difficult to discern the day the companies put lockers in the plants. From that moment
on, one did not see men in work clothes on the way to the factory, but citizens in
slacks and white shirts. This process has been magnified with the poor throughout the
country. There are tens of thousands of Americans in the big cities who are wearing
shoes, perhaps even a stylishly cut suit or dress, and yet are hungry. It is not a matter
of planning, though it almost seems as if the affluent society had given out costumes
to the poor so that they would not offend the rest of society with the sight of rags.
      Then, many of the poor are the wrong age to be seen. A good number of them
(over 8,000,000) are sixty-five years of age or better; an even larger number are under
eighteen. The aged members of the other America are often sick, and they cannot
move. Another group of them live out their lives in loneliness and frustration: they sit
in rented rooms, or else they stay close to a house in a neighborhood that has
completely changed from the old days. Indeed, one of the worst aspects of poverty
among the aged is that these people are out of sight and out of mind, and alone.

     The young are somewhat more visible, yet they too stay close to their
neighborhoods. Sometimes they advertise their poverty through a lurid tabloid story
about a gang killing. But generally they do not disturb the quiet streets of the middle
     And finally, the poor are politically invisible. It is one of the cruelest ironies of
social life in advanced countries that the dispossessed at the bottom of society are
unable to speak for themselves. The people of the other America do not, by far and
large, belong to unions, to fraternal organizations, or to political parties. They are
without lobbies of their own; they put forward no legislative program. As a group,
they are atomized. They have no face; they have no voice.
     Thus, there is not even a cynical political motive for caring about the poor, as in
the old days. Because the slums are no longer centers of powerful political
organizations, the politicians need not really care about their inhabitants. The slums
are no longer visible to the middle class, so much of the idealistic urge to fight for
those who need help is gone. Only the social agencies have a really direct
involvement with the other America, and they are without any great political power.
     To the extent that the poor have a spokesman in American life, that role is played
by the labor movement. The unions have their own particular idealism, an ideology of
concern. More than that, they realize that the existence of a reservoir of cheap,
unorganized labor is a menace to wages and working conditions throughout the entire
economy. Thus, many union legislative proposals — to extend the coverage of
minimum wage and social security, to organize migrant farm laborers — articulate
the needs of the poor.
     That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them. They
are not simply neglected and forgotten as in the old rhetoric of reform; what is much
worse, they are not seen.

                                      From: H. Knepler and M. Knepler, pp. 221-224.

5. The Plug-in Drug: TV and the American Family, Part Ⅰ
                     Marie Winn
      A quarter of a century after the introduction of television into American society, a
period that has seen the medium become so deeply ingrained in American life that in
at least one state the television set has attained the rank of a legal necessity, safe from
repossession in case of debt along with clothes, cooking utensils, and the like,
television viewing has become an inevitable and ordinary part of daily life. Only in
the early years of television did writers and commentators have sufficient perspective
to separate the activity of watching television from the actual content if offers the
viewer. In those early days writers frequently discussed the effects of television on
family life. However, a curious myopia afflicted those early observers: almost without
exception they regarded television as a favorable, beneficial, indeed, wondrous
influence upon the family.
      “Television is going to be a real asset in every home where there are children,”

predicts a writer in 1949.
      “Television will take over your way of living and change your children‟s habits,
but this change can be a wonderful improvement,” claims another commentator.
      “No survey‟s needed, of course, to establish that television has brought the
family together in one room,” writes the New York Times television critic in 1949.
      Each of the early articles about television is invariably accomplished by a
photograph or illustration showing a family cozily sitting together before the
television set, Sis on Mom‟s lap, Buddy perched on the arm of Dad‟s chair, Dad with
his arm around Mom‟s shoulder. Who could have guessed that twenty or so years later
Mom could be watching a drama in the kitchen, the kids would be looking at cartoons
in their room, while Dad would be taking in ball game in the living room?
      Of course television sets were enormously expensive in those early days. The
idea that by 1975 more than 60 percent of American families would own two or more
sets was preposterous. The splintering of the multiple-set family was something the
early writers could not foresee. Nor did anyone imagine the number of hours children
would eventually devote to television, the common use of television by parents as a
child pacifier, the changes television would effect upon child-rearing methods, the
increasing domination of family schedules by children‟s viewing requirements — in
short, the power of the new medium to dominate family life.
      After the first years, as children‟s consumption of the new medium increased,
together with parental concern about the possible effects of so much television
viewing, a steady refrain helped to soothe and reassure anxious parents. “Television
always enters a pattern of influences that already exist: the home, the peer group, the
school, the church, and culture generally,” write the authors of an early and influential
study of television‟s effects on children. In other words, if the child‟s home life is all
right, parents need not worry about the effects of all that television watching.
      But television does not merely influence the child; it deeply influences that
“pattern of influences” that is meant to ameliorate its effects. Home and family life
has changed in important ways since the advent of television. The peer group has
become television-oriented, and much of the time children spend together is occupied
by television viewing. Culture generally has been transformed by television.
Therefore it is improper to assign to television the subsidiary role its many apologists
(too often members of the television industry) insist it plays. Television is not merely
one of a number of important influences upon today‟s child. Through the changes it
has made in family life, television emerges as the important influence in children‟s
lives today.
      Television‟s contribution to family life has been an equivocal one. For while it
has, indeed, kept the members of the family from dispersing, it has not served to bring
them together. By its domination of the time families spend together, it destroys the
special quality that distinguishes one family from another, a quality that depends on a
great extent on what a family does, what special rituals, games, recurrent jokes,
familiar songs, and shared activities it accumulates.
      “Like the sorcerer of old,” writes Urie Bronfenbrenner, “ the television set casts
its magic spell, freezing speech and action, turning the living into silent statues so

long as the enchantment lasts. The primary danger of the television screen lies not so
much in the behavior it produces — although there is danger there — as in the
behavior it prevents: the talks, the games, the family festivities and arguments through
which much of the child‟s learning takes place and through which his character is
formed. Turning on the television set can turn off the process that transforms children
into people.”
      Yet parents have accepted a television-dominated family life so completely that
they cannot see how the medium is involved in whatever problems they might be
having. A first-grade teacher reports:
      “I have one child in the group who‟s an only child. I wanted to find out more
about her family life because this little girl was quite isolated from the group, didn‟t
make friends, so I talked to her mother. Well, they don‟t have time to do anything in
the evening, the mother said. The parents come home after picking up the child at the
baby-sitter‟s. Then the mother fixes dinner while the child watches TV. Then they
have dinner and the child goes to bed. I said to this mother, „Well, couldn‟t she help
you fix dinner? That would be a nice time for the two of you to talk,‟ and the mother
said, „Oh, but I‟d hate to have her miss “Zoom”. It‟s such a good program!”
      Even when families make efforts to control television, too often its very presence
counterbalances the positive features of family life. A writer and mother of two boys
aged 3 and 7 described her family‟s television schedule in an article in The New York
           We were in the midst of a full-scale War. Every day was a new battle and
      every program was a major skirmish. We agreed it was a bad scene all around
      and were ready to enter diplomatic negotiations…. In principle we have agreed
      on 21/2 hours of TV a day, “Sesame Street,” “Electric Company” (with dinner
      gobbled up in between) and two half-hour shows between 7 and 8:30 which
      enables the grown-ups to eat in peace and prevents the two boys from destroying
      one another. Their pre-bedtime choice is dreadful, because, as Josh recently
      admitted, “There‟s nothing much on I really like.” So…it‟s “What‟s My Line” or
      “To Tell the Truth”….
      Clearly there is a need for first-rate children‟s shows at this time….
      Consider the “family life” described here: Presumably the father comes home
from work during the “Sesame Street” — “Electric Company” stint. The children are
either watching television, gobbling their dinner, or both. While the parents eat their
dinner in peaceful privacy, the children watch another hour of television. Then there is
only a half-hour left before bedtime, just enough time for baths, getting pajamas on,
brushing teeth, and so on. The children‟s evening is regimented with an almost
military precision. They watch their favorite programs, and when there is “nothing
much on I really like,” they not see anything amiss with watching programs just for
the sake of watching; she only wishes there were some first-rate children‟s shows on
those times.
      Without conjuring up memories of the Victorian era with family games and long,
leisurely meals, and large families, the question arises: isn‟t there a better family life
available than this dismal, mechanized arrangement of children watching television

for however long is allowed them, evening after evening?
     Of course, families today still do special things together at times: go camping in
the summer, go to the zoo on a nice Sunday, take various trips and expeditions. But
their ordinary daily life together is diminished — that sitting around at the dinner
table, that spontaneous taking up of an activity, those little games invented by children
on the spur of the moment when there is nothing else to do, the scribbling, the
chatting, and even the quarreling, all the things that form the fabric of a family, that
define a childhood. Instead, the children have their regular schedule of television
programs and bedtime, and the parents have their peaceful dinner together.
     The author of the article in the Times notes that “keeping a family sane means
mediating between the needs of both children and adults.” But surely the needs of
adults are being better met than the needs of the children, who are effectively shunted
away and rendered untroublesome, while their parents enjoy a life as undemanding as
that of any childless people. In reality, it is those very demands that young children
make upon a family that lead to growth, and it is the way parents accede to those
demands that builds the relationships upon which the future of the family depends. If
the family does not accumulate its backlog of shared experiences, shared everyday
experiences that occur and recur and change and develop, then it is not likely to
survive as anything other than a caretaking institution.

                                                  From: C. Shrodes et al, pp. 320-323.

6. Preparing for College
            Lincoln Steffens
     The year 1884-1885 was a period of great adventure for me. When I came up to
Burkeley for the entrance examinations at the University of California I failed in
Greek, Latin, and enough other subjects to e put off for a year. My father was alarmed.
I was eighteen years old, and he thought, I think, that my failure was his fault; he had
chosen the wrong school for me. He had, but the right school for me and my kind did
not exist. There were schools that put boys into the colleges, east and west, and at a
younger age than mine. I came to know those boys well. They are the boys (and they
become the men) that the schools, colleges, and the world are made for. Often I have
envied them; more often I have been glad that I was not of them.
     The elect were, for the most part, boys who had been brought up to do their duty.
They memorized whatever their teachers told them to learn. Whether they wanted to
know it, whether they understood it or not, they could remember and recite it. Their
own driving motives were, so far as I could make out, not curiosity; they rarely talked
about our studies, and if I spoke of the implications of something we had read or
heard, they looked dazed or indifferent. Their own motives were foreign to me: to
beat the other fellows, stand high, represent the honor of the school.
     My parents did not bring me up. They sent me to school, they gave me teachers
of music, drawing; they offered me every opportunity in their reach. But also they
gave me liberty and the tools of quite another life: horses, guns, dogs, and the range of

an open country. As I have shown, the people, the businesses, and the dreams of this
life interested me, and I learned well whether interested me. School subjects which
happened to bear on my outside interests I studied in school and out; I read more than
was required, and I read for keeps, too. I know these subjects to this day, just as I
remember and love still the men and women, the boys and girls, who let me be friends
with them and so revealed to me some of the depths and the limitations of human
nature. On the other hand I can remember few of my teachers and little of the subjects
which seemed to me irrelevant to my life.
      These other subjects are interesting, and they might have been made interesting
to me. No one tried to interest me in them; they were put before me as things that I
had to have to get into college. The teachers of them did not appeal to my curious,
active mind. The result was that I did not really work at them and so got only what
stuck by dent of repetition: the barest rudiments of a school education. When I
knocked at the college gates, I was prepared for a college education in some branches;
my mind was hungry enough for the answers to some profound questions to have
made me work and develop myself, especially on lines which I know now had no
ready answers, only more and even more questions: science, metaphysics, etc. I was
not in the least curious about Greek, Latin, mathematics, and the other “knowledge”
required by the standardization of that day.
      My father discovered and put me into the best private school in San Francisco as
a special student to be crammed for Berkeley — and he retained one of the teachers
there, Mr. Evelyn Nixon, to tutor me on the side. Characteristically, too, my father
gave me liberty: a room to sleep and work in, with no one to watch over and care for
me. I could go and come as I pleased. And I came and went. I went exploring and
dreaming alone around that city as I had the country around Sacramento, and the
place I liked best was the ocean shore; there I lived over the lives of the Greek heroes
and the Roman generals and all the poets of all the ages, sometimes with ecstasy, but
never, as in my boyhood, with myself as the hero. A change had come over me.
      Evelyn Nixon formed it. He was the first teacher I ever had who interested me in
what I had to learn — not in myself, but in the world outside, the world of conscious
culture. He was a fanatic of poetry, especially of the classic poets. When he read or
recited Greek verse the Greeks came to life; romance and language sang songs to me,
and I was inspired to be, like him, not a hero nor even a poet, but a Greek scholar, and
thus an instrument on which beautiful words might play. Life filled with meaning, and
purpose, and joy. It was too great and too various for me to personify with my boyish
imitations and heroism. I wrote verses, but only to learn the technique and so feel
poetry more perfectly. I wanted to read, not to write; I wanted to know, not to do and
be, great things — Mr. Nixon expressed it.
      “I‟m nobody,” he used to say. “I‟m nothing but one of the unknown beings
Homer and Dante, Shakespeare, Caesar, and the popes and the generals and statesmen
have sung and fought and worked for. I‟m the appreciator of all good words and
      A new, a noble role, and Evelyn Nixon was a fine example of it: the receiver, not
the giver, of beautiful inventions. He was an Englishman; he took a double first at

Oxford, I heard, and came for his health to San Francisco. There was a group of such
men, most of them with one story. They were athletes, as well as scholars at Oxford
and Cambridge; they developed muscles and a lung capacity which they did not need
and could not keep up in the sedentary occupations their scholarship put them into.
Lung trouble exiled them.
     “Keep out of college athletics,” they advised. “Don‟t work up any more brawn
there than you can use every day afterward.”
     Nixon taught me Greek, Latin, and English at school, and at his house he opened
up the beauty and the meaning of the other subjects I had to cram up for entrance. I
worked for him; I worked more, much more, for myself. He saw this, he saw my
craving for the answers to questions, and he laughed.
     “I will answer no questions of yours,” he shouted. “Men know no answers to the
natural questions of a boy, of a child. We can only underline your questions, make you
mad yourself to answer them, and add ours to whip, to lash you on to find out yourself
— one or two; and tell us! That is what youth is for: to answer the questions maturity
can‟t answer.” And when I looked disappointed and balked, he would roar at me like a
     “Go to, boy. The world is yours. Nothing is done, nothing is known. The greatest
poem isn‟t written, the best railroad isn‟t built yet, the perfect state hasn‟t been
thought of. Everything remains to be done — right, everything.”
     This said, he said it again and again, and finally, to drive me, he set our private
hour from seven till eight o‟clock Saturday evenings, so that I could stay on into the
night with his group of friends, a maddening lot of cultivated, conflicting minds.
There were from four to ten of them, all Englishmen, all Oxford and Cambridge men,
all exiles and all interested in any and all subjects, which they discussed with
knowledge, with the precise information of scholarship, but with no common opinions
on anything apparently. There were Tories among them and liberals and one red:
William Owen, a grandson, I think, certainly a descendant, of Robert Owen, the first
of the early English socialists. There was at least one Roman Catholic, who showed
me so that I never forgot it the Christianity of that church; his favorite thesis was that
the Protestant churches were Old Testament, righteous sects and knew nothing really
of Christ‟s teachings of love and forgiveness. And there were Protestants there, all
schooled in church history, and when a debate came to a clinch, they could quote their
authorities with a sureness which withstood reference to the books. I remember one
hot dispute of the Catholic‟s reference to some certain papal bull. Challenged, the
quoted it verbatim in the original Latin. What they knew was amazing to me, and how
they knew it, but what they did not know struck me harder still. They could not
among them agree on anything but a fact. With all their knowledge they knew no
essential truth.
     It was conversation I was hearing, the free, passionate, witty exchanges of
studied minds as polished as fine tools. They were always courteous; no two ever
spoke together; there were no asides; they all talked to the question before the house,
and while they were on the job of exposition anyone, regardless of his side, would
contribute his quota of facts, or his remembrance of some philosopher‟s opinion or

some poet‟s perfect phrase for the elucidation or the beautification of the theme.
When the differences rose the urbanity persisted. They drank their Californian wine
with a relish, they smoked the room thick, and they pressed their views with vigor and
sincerity and eloquence; but their good temper never failed them. It was conversation
I had never heard conversation before; I have heard conversation sometimes since, but
rarely, and never like my remembrance of those wonderful Saturday nights in San
Francisco — which were my preparation for college.
     For those conversations, so brilliant, so scholarly, and so consciously unknowing,
seemed to me, silent in the background, to reveal the truth that even college graduates
did not know anything, really. Evidences they had, all the testimony of all the wise
men in the historical world on everything, but no decisions. None. I must myself to go
college to find out more, and I wanted to. It seemed as if I had to go soon. My head,
busy with questions before, was filled with holes that were aching voids as hungry, as
painful, as an empty stomach. And my questions were explicit; it was as if I were not
only hungry; I was hungry for certain foods. My curiosity was no longer vague.

                                                    From: A. C. Morris et al, pp. 5-8.

7. Grouping the Gifted: Pro
             Kenneth Mott
      I regard gifted children as those who possess some quality or innate ability which
has been recognized and identified by any number of testing and observation devices
and who manifest interest and success in either physical, intellectual, or artistic
      These might be children who are gifted athletes but who have real trouble
mastering academic subject matter, or students who are poor athletes but are highly
intellectual “quiz kids” who knock the top off all measuring devices. “Gifted” may
describe pupils of average intelligence who have exceptional ability in art or music, or
it may refer to the child with an IQ of 135 who excels in everything.
      How can we deal with these gifted? I firmly believe that we should group them
as nearly as possible according to interest and ability (giftedness) and challenge them
with a type of program that will help them to grow to the fullest extent of their
abilities and capacities.
      This grouping could take the form of special subject arrangements in the
elementary grades, a situation in which a class is heterogeneously grouped most of the
day but is divided at times into special interest or ability class groups for special
instruction. In high school, it may take the form of grouping students in regular
classed according to any number of criteria but basically those of interest and
proficiency (or lack of proficiency) in various subject areas.
      One of the basic arguments against grouping the gifted is the fear of creating a
caste of intellectual snobs. Similarly, some educators fear that the average and slow
students would come to regard themselves as inferior.
      If my definition of the gifted is accepted, then these fears are groundless. After

all, the schools have grouped gifted athletes for years. Yet how many athletes regard
themselves as part of an élite? Do varsity athletes look down upon other pupils as
inferior? The vast majority apparently do not.
      Consider also the amount of “gifted grouping” in speech, music, art, and
journalism. Schools have readily grouped the gifted in these areas without any
apparent ill effect. To the extent of my observation, encouraging gifted debaters,
musicians, artists, and writers to develop their special talents does not create envy or
feelings of inferiority among less talented students.
      If educators sincerely desire to promote individual growth and self-respect, they
have no grounds, as far as I can see, to fear any kind of grouping. The teacher, not the
manner in which a class is organized, determines students‟ attitudes toward individual
differences. Before he can hope to instill the proper attitude however, the teacher
needs to make a critical analysis of his own attitudes toward such differences.
      If a group of gifted or nongifted students form the wrong concept about
themselves, the fault probably lies with the teachers, parents, or administrators. I have
confidence that if teachers accept and respect individual worth, that if they challenge
and spark interests in young people, the individual student will mature and grow
successfully along the lines of his interests and abilities. I say, let those with similar
“gifts” associate, plan, and enjoy being together.
      Many educators disagree with the idea of gifted grouping because they believe
that it does not affect achievement significantly. They cite pilot studies which indicate
that no significant change in achievement results when children are separated into
slow and accelerated classes.
      The fact is, however, that in a vast majority of pilot studies the children have
been grouped only according to IQ scores, which are far from reliable, and the
conclusions have been based on achievement scores which measure only mastery of
factual detail.
      Unfortunately, there are no reliable devices for measuring growth in such areas
as creativity, attitudes, personal adjustment, latent interest and talent, and innate
      My opinion, which is based on more than a decade in the classroom, is that
learning skyrockets when individuals are grouped according to interest and ability and
are motivated, challenged, and inspired by a type of school work that will yield some
measure of success to them.
      Heterogeneous classrooms frequently produce frustration in children who are
persistently unable to do the same work that most of other children do. Frustration is
also produced when bright children are not properly challenged by their school work,
as is too often the case in heterogeneous classrooms.
      I have little fear of gifted students being pushed beyond their endurance, for I
have faith in the ability of most teachers to recognize the limits to which any student
should be pushed. On the other hand, I don‟t believe giftedness should be wasted
away simply because a bright or talent student is content to proceed at what is — for
him — a snail‟s pace or to stand at the top of a class of students with less ability.
      Several schools with which I am familiar have experimented with grouping the

gifted in a reading program. (The regular procedure had been to have three or four
reading groups in one classroom under one teacher. The teacher‟s time was divided
among several small groups.)
      The experiment involved putting slow readers from different classrooms in one
classroom, average readers from different classrooms in another class, and fast readers
in still another class. Each classroom still had one another, but he no longer had to
divide his time among several different groups. The control group consisted of a class
organized and taught under the regular procedure mentioned above.
      After two years, the researchers found greater overall progress at all reading
levels in the experimental group. In fact, some slow readers joined the average ones
and some averages ones moved up to the first group. In this case, special ability
grouping paid dividends all around.
      I believe the same results could have been achieved in science, social studies,
mathematics, or English. By decreasing the range of interest and/or ability levels, the
teachers is able to do more toward helping individual growth.
      While I do not believe that children should be regarded as resources to be
molded to the needs of society, I do believe that as individuals they are endowed with
certain characteristics and attributes — “gifts” of nature — which represent their
potential success in life. Where children have certain “gift” in common, they should
be allowed to work and study together.

                                               From: S. A. Clayes et al, pp. 305-308.

8. Why Nothing Works
                Marvin Harris
     According to a law attributed to the savant only as Murphy, “if anything can go
wrong, it will.” Corollaries to Murphy‟s Law suggest themselves as clues to the
shoddy goods problem: If anything can break down, it will; if anything can stop
running, it will. While Murphy‟s Law can never be wholly defeated, its effects can
usually be postponed. Much of human existence consists of efforts aimed at making
sure that things don‟t go wrong, fall apart, break down, or stop running until a decent
interval has elapsed after manufacture. Forestalling Murphy‟s Law as applied to
products demands intelligence, skill, and commitment. If these human inputs are
assisted by special quality-control instruments, machines, and scientific sampling
procedures, so much the better. But grades and sampling alone will never do the trick
since there items are also subject to Murphy‟s Law. Quality-control instruments need
maintenance; gauges go out of order; X rays and laser beams need adjustments. No
matter how advanced the technology, quality demands intelligent, motivated human
thought and action.
     Some reflection about the material culture of prehistoric and preindustrial
peoples may help to show that what I mean. A single visit to a museum which
displays artifacts used by simple preindustrial societies is sufficient to dispel the
notion that quality is dependent on technology. Artifacts may be of simple, even

primitive design, and yet be built to serve their intended purpose in a reliable manner
during a lifetime of use. We acknowledge this when we honor the label “handmade”
and pay extra for the jewelry, sweaters, and handbags turned out by the dwindling
breeds of modern-day craftspeople.
      What is the source of quality that one finds, let us say, in a Pomo Indian basket
so tightly woven that it was used to hold boiling water and never leaked a drop, or in
an Eskimo skin boat with its matchless combination of lightness, strength, and
seaworthiness? Was it merely the fact that these items were handmade?I don‟t think
so. In unskilled or uncaring hands a handmade basket or boat can fall apart as quickly
as baskets or boats made by machines. I rather think that the reason we honor the
label “handmade” is because it evokes not a technological relationship between
producer and product but a social relationship between producer and consumer.
Throughout prehistory it was the fact that producers and consumers were either one
and the same individuals or close kin that guaranteed the highest degree of reliability
and durability in manufactured items. Men made their own spears, bows and arrows,
and projectile points; women wove their own baskets and carrying nets, fashioned
their own clothing from animal skins, bark, or fiber. Later, as technology advanced
adopted craft specialties such as pottery-making, basket-weaving, or canoe-building.
Although many items were obtained through barter and trade, the connection between
producer and consumer still remained intimate, permanent, and caring.
      A man is not likely to fashion a spear for himself whose point will fall off in
midflight; nor is a woman who weaves her own basket likely to make it out o rotted
straw. Similarly, if one is sewing a parka for a husband who is about to go hunting for
the family with the temperature at sixty below, all stitches will be perfect. And when
the men who make boats are the uncles and fathers of those who sail them, they will
be as seaworthy as the state of the art permits.
      In contrast, it is very hard for people to care about strangers or about products to
be used by strangers. In our era of industrial mass production and mass marketing,
quality is a constant problem because the intimate sentiments and personal bonds
which once made us responsible to each other and to our products have withered away
and been replaced by money relationships. Not only are the producers and consumers
strangers but the women and men involved in various stages of production and
distribution — management, the worker on the factory floor, the office help, the
salespeople — are also strangers to each other. In larger companies there may be
hundreds of thousands of people all working on the same product who can never meet
face-to-face or learn one another‟s names. The larger the company and the more
complex its division of labor, the greater the sum of uncaring relationships and hence
the greater the effect of Murphy‟s Law. Growth adds layer on layer of executives,
foremen, engineers, production workers, and sales specialists to the payroll. Since
each new employee contributes a diminished share to the overall production process,
alienation from the company and its product are likely to increase along with the
neglect or even purposeful sabotage of quality standards.

                                                     From: G. Levin, 1987, pp. 94-97.

9. Where Is the News Leading Us?
              Norman Cousins
      Not long ago I was asked to join to in a public symposium on the role of the
American press. Two other speakers were included on the program. The first was a
distinguished TV anchorman. The other was the editor of one of the nation‟s leading
parts, a newsman to the core — tough, aggressive, and savvy in the ways and means
of solid reporting.
      The purpose of the symposium, as I understood it, was to scrutinize the
obligations of the media and to suggest the best ways to meet those obligations.
      During the open-discussion period, a gentleman in the audience addressed a
question to my two colleagues. Why, he asked, are the newspapers and the television
news programs so disaster-prone? Why are newsmen and women so attracted to
tragedy, violence, failure?
      The anchorman and the editor reacted as though they had been blamed for the
existence of bad news. Newsmen and newswomen, they said, are only responsible for
reporting the news, not for creating it or modifying it.
      It didn‟t seem to me that the newsmen had answered the question. The gentleman
who had asked it was not blaming them for the distortions in the world. He was just
wondering why distortions are most reported. The news media seem to operate on the
philosophy that all news in bad news. Why? Could it be that the emphasis on
downside news is largely the result of tradition — the way newsmen and
newswomen are accustomed to respond to daily events?
      Perhaps it would be useful here to examine the way we define the word news, for
this is where the problem begins. News is supposed to deal with happenings of the
past 12 hours-24 hours at most. Anything that happens so suddenly, however, is apt to
be eruptive. A sniper kills some pedestrians; a terrorist holds 250 people hostage in a
plane; OPEC announces a 25 percent increase in petroleum prices; Great Britain
devalues by another 10 percent; a truck conveying radioactive wastes collides with a
mobile cement mixer.
      Focusing solely on these details, however produces a misshapen picture.
Civilization is a lot more than the sum total of its catastrophes. The most important
ingredient in any civilization is progress. But progress doesn‟t happen all at once. It is
not eruptive. Generally, it comes in bits and pieces, very little of it clearly visible at
any given moment, but all of it involved in the making of historical change for the
      It is this aspect of living history that most news reporting reflects inadequately.
The result is that we are underinformed about positive developments and
overinformed about disasters. This, in turn, leads to a public mood of defeatism and
despair, which in themselves tend to be inhibitors of progress. An unrelieved diet of
eruptive news depletes the essential human energies a free society needs. A mood of
hopelessness and cynicism is hardly likely to furnish the energy needed to meet
serious challenges.
      I am not suggesting that “positive” news be contrived as an antidote to the

disasters on page one. Nor do I define positive news as in-depth reportage of functions
of the local YMCA. What I am trying to get across is the notion that the responsibility
of the news media is to search out and report on important events — whether or not
they come under the heading of conflict, confirmation, or catastrophe. The world is a
splendid combination of heaven and hell, and both sectors call for attention and
      My hope is that the progression of journalism will soon see its responsibility in a
wider perspective. The time has come to consider the existence of a large area of
human happenings that legitimately quality as news. For example, how many news
articles have been written about nitrogen-fixation — the process by which plants
can be made to “fix” their own nitrogen, thus reducing the need for fertilizer?
Scientists all over the world are now pursuing this prospect in the hope of combating
famine. How much is known about the revolutionary changes being made in
increasing the rice harvest in the Far East? There are literally dozens of similar
important developments in the world that are worthy of inclusion in any roundup of
major news stories.
      The anchorman and the editor were right in saying that newsmen and women are
not responsible for shaping the world. But they are responsible for affection our
attitudes. We are only what we think we are; we can achieve only those goals we dare
to envision. News people provide us with the only picture we have of ourselves and of
the world. It had better be a true portrait — and not a caricature — for it is this
picture on which we will base our decisions and around which we will plan our future.
      The journalist, to paraphrase Walter Lippmann, is the public‟s philosopher. “The
acquired culture,” Lippmann wrote, “is not transmitted in our genes. The good life in
the good society, though attainable, is never attained and possessed once and for all.
What has been attained will again be lost if the wisdom of the good life in a good
society is not transmitted.”
      With an accurate report of the good life in the good society, we can begin to use
the news as Bernard de Chartres suggested we use history — boosting ourselves up
on our experiences, “like dwarfs seated on the shoulders of giants,” enabled, thus, “to
see more things than the Ancients and things more distant.”

                                                  From: S. A. Clayes et al, pp. 331-333.

10. Things: The Throw-Away Society
              Alvin Toffler
      “Barbie,” a twelve-inch plastic teen-ager, is the best-known and best-selling
doll in history. Since its introduction in 1959, the Barbie doll population of the
world has grown to 12,000,000 — more than the human population of Los
Angeles or London or Paris. Little girls adore Barbie because she is highly
realistic and eminently dress-upable. Mattel, Inc., maker of Barbie, also sells s
complete wardrobe for her, including clothes for ordinary daytime wear, clothes
for formal party wear, clothes for swimming and skiing.

       Recently Mattel announced a new improved Barbie doll. The new version
has a slimmer figure, “real” eyelashes, and a twist-and-turn waist that makes her
more humanoid than ever. Moreover, Mattel announced that, for the first time,
any young lady wishing to purchase a new Barbie would receive a trade-in
allowance for her old one.
       What Mattel did not announce was that by trading in her old doll for a
technologically improved model, the little girl of today, citizen of tomorrow‟s
super-industrial world, would learn a fundamental lesson about the new society:
that man‟s relationships with things are increasingly temporary.
       The ocean of man-made physical objects that surrounds us is set within a
larger ocean of natural objects. But increasingly, it is the technologically
produced environment that matters for the individual. The texture of plastic or
concrete, the iridescent glisten of an automobile under a streetlight, the
staggering vision of a cityscape seen from the window of a jet — these are the
intimate realities of his existence. Man-made things enter into and color his
consciousness. Their number is expanding with explosive force, both absolutely
and relative to the natural environment. This will be even more true in
super-industrial society than it is today.
       Anti-materialists tend to deride the importance of “things.” Yet things are
highly significant, not merely because of their functional utility, but also because
of their psychological impact. We develop relationships with things. Things
affect our sense of continuity or discontinuity. They play a role in the structure of
situations and the foreshortening of our relationships with things accelerates the
pace of life.
       Moreover, our attitudes toward things reflect basic value judgments.
Nothing could be more dramatic than the difference between the new breed of
little girls who cheerfully turn in their Barbies for the new improved model and
those who, like their mothers and grandmothers before them, clutch lingeringly
and lovingly to the same doll until it disintegrates from sheer age. In this
difference lies the contrast between past and future, between societies based on
permanence, and the new, fast-forming society based on transience.
       That man-thing relationships are growing more and more temporary may be
illustrated by examining the culture surrounding the little girl who trades in her
doll. This child soon learns that Barbie dolls are by no means the only physical
objects that pass into and out of her young life at a rapid clip. Diapers, bibs,
paper napkins, Kleenex, towels, non-returnable soda bottles — all are used up
quickly in her home and ruthlessly eliminated. Corn muffins come in baking tins
that are thrown away after one use. Spinach is encased in plastic sacks that can
be dropped into a pan of boiling water for heating, and then thrown away. TV
dinners are cooked and often served on throw-away trays. Her home is a large
processing machine through which objects flow, entering and leaving, at a faster
and faster rate of speed. From birth on, she is inextricably embedded in a
throw-away culture.
       The idea of using a product once or for a brief period and then replacing it,

runs counter to the grain of societies or individuals steeped in a heritage of
poverty. Not long ago Uriel Rone, a market researcher for the French advertising
agency Publicis, told me: “The French housewife is not used to disposable
products. She likes to keep things, even old things, rather than throw them away.
We represented one company that wanted to introduce a kind of plastic
throw-away curtain. We did a marketing study for them and found the resistance
too strong.” This resistance, however, is dying all over the developed world.
      Thus a writer, Edward Maze, has pointed out that many American visiting
Sweden in the early 1950‟s were astounded by its cleanliness. “We were almost
awed by the fact that there were no beer and soft drink bottles by the roadsides,
as, much to our shame, there were in America. But by the 1960‟s, lo and behold,
bottles were suddenly blooming along Swedish highways… What happened?
Sweden had become a buy, use and throw-away society, following the American
pattern.” In Japan today throw-away tissues are so universal that cloth
handkerchiefs are regarded as old fashioned, not to say unsanitary. In England
for sixpence one may buy a “Dentamatic throw-away toothbrush” which comes
already coated with toothpaste for its one-time use. And even in France,
disposable cigarette lighters are commonplace. From cardboard milk containers
to the rockets that power space vehicles, products created for short-term or
one-time use are becoming more numerous and crucial to our way of life.
      The recent introduction of paper and quasi-paper clothing carried the trend
toward disposability a step further. Fashionable boutiques and working-class
clothing stores have sprouted whole departments devoted to gaily colored and
imaginatively designed paper apparel. Fashion magazines display breathtakingly
sumptuous gowns, coats, pajamas, even wedding dresses made of paper. The
bride pictured in one of these wears a long white train of lace-like paper that, the
captain writer notes, will make “great kitchen curtains” after the ceremony.
      Paper clothes are particularly suitable for children. Writes one fashion
expert: “Little girls will soon be able to spill ice cream, draw pictures and make
cutouts on their clothes while their mothers smile benignly at their creativity.”
And for adults who want to express their own creativity, there is even a
“paint-yourself-dress” complete with brushes. Price: $2.00.
      Price, of course, is a critical factor behind the paper explosion. Thus a
department store features simple A-line dresses made of what it calls
“devil-may-care cellulose fiber and nylon.” At $1.29 each, it is almost cheaper
for the consumer to buy and discard a new one than to send an ordinary dress to
the cleaners. Soon it will be. But more than economies is involved, for the
extension of the throw-away culture has important psychological consequences.
      We develop a throw-away mentality to match our throw-away products.
This mentality produces, among other things, a set of radically altered values
with respect to property. But the spread of disposability through the society also
implies decreased durations in man-thing relationships. Instead of being linked
with a single object over a relatively long span of time, we are linked for brief
periods with the succession of objects that supplant it.

                                From: D. K. Milan and N. C. Rattner, pp. 128-133.

11. Cultivating a Hobby
            Winston Churchill
      A gifted American psychologist has said, “Worry is a spasm of the emotion;
the mind catches hold of something and will not let it go.” It is useless to argue
with the mind in this condition. The stronger the will, the more futile the task.
One can only gently insinuate something else into its convulsive grasp. And if
this something else is rightly chosen, if it is really attended by the illumination of
another field of interest, gradually, and often quite swiftly, the old undue grip
relaxes and the process of recuperation and repair, begins.
      The cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is therefore a policy of
first importance to a public man. But this is not a business that can be undertaken
in a day or swiftly improvised by a mere command of the will. The growth of
alternative mental interests is a long process. The seeds must be carefully chosen;
they must fall on good ground; they must be sedulously tended, if the vivifying
fruits are to be at hand when needed.
      To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three
hobbies, and they must all be real. It is no use starting late in life to say: “I will
take an interest in this or that.” Such an attempt only aggravates the strain of
mental effort. A man may acquire great knowledge of topics unconnected with
his daily work, and yet hardly get any benefit or relief. It is no use doing what
you like; you have got to like what you do. Broadly speaking, human beings may
be divided into three classes: those who are toiled to death, those who are
worried to death, and those who are bored to death. It is no use offering the
manual laborer, tired out with a hard week‟s sweat and effort, the chance of
playing a game of football or baseball on Saturday afternoon. It is no use inviting
the politician or the professional or businessman, who has been working or
worrying about serious things for six days, to work or worry about trifling things
at the week-end.
      As for the unfortunate people who can command everything they want, who
can gratify every caprice and lay their hands on almost every object of desire —
for them a new pleasure, a new excitement is only an additional satiation. In vain
they rush frantically round from place to place, trying to escape from avenging
boredom by mere clatter and motion. For them discipline in one form or another
is the most hopeful path.
      It may also be said that rational, industrious, useful human beings are
divided into two classes; first, those whose work is work and whose is pleasure;
and secondly, those whose work and pleasure are one. Of these the former are the
majority. They have their compensations. The long hours in the office or the
factory bring with them as their reward, not only the means of sustenance, but a
keen appetite for pleasure even in its simplest and most modest forms. But

Fortune‟s favored children belong to the second class. Their life is a natural
harmony. For them the working hours are never long enough. Each day is a
holiday, and ordinary holidays when they come are grudged as enforced
interruptions in an absorbing vocation. Yet to both classes the need of an
alternative outlook, of a change of atmosphere, of a diversion of effort, is
essential. Indeed, it may well be that those whose work is their pleasure are those
who most need the means of banishing it at intervals from their minds.

                                                  From: L. G. Alexander, pp. 190-192.

12. The Science of Custom
              Ruth Benedict
      Anthropology is the study of human beings as creatures of society. It fastens
its attention upon those physical characteristics and industrial techniques, those
conventions and values, which distinguish one community from all others that
belong to a different tradition.
      The distinguishing mark of anthropology among the social sciences is that it
includes for serious study other societies than our own. For its purpose any social
regulation of mating and reproduction is as significant as our own, though it may
be that of the Sea Dyaks, and have no possible historical relation to that of our
civilization. To the anthropologist, our customs and those of a New Guinea tribe
are two possible social schemes for dealing with a common problem, and in so
far as he remains an anthropologist he is bound to avoid any weighting of one in
favor of the other. He is interested in human behavior, not as it is shaped by one
tradition, our own, but as it has been shaped by any tradition whatsoever. He is
interested in the great gamut of custom that is found in various cultures, and his
object is to understand the way in which these cultures change and differentiate,
the different forms through which they express themselves, and the manner in
which the customs of any peoples function in the lives of the individuals who
compose them.
      Now custom has not been commonly regarded as a subject of any great
moment. The inner workings of our own brains we feel to be uniquely worthy of
investigation, but custom, we have a way of thinking, is behavior at its most
commonplace. As a matter of fact, it is the other way around. Traditional custom,
taken the world over, is a mass of detailed behavior more astonishing than what
any one person can ever evolve in individual actions, no matter how aberrant. Yet
that is a rather trivial aspect of the matter. The fact of first-rate importance is the
predominant role that custom plays in experience and in belief, and the very
great varieties it may manifest.
      No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a
definite set of customs and institutions and ways of thinking. Even in his
philosophical probings he cannot go behind these stereotypes; his very concepts
of the true and the false will still have reference to his particular traditional

customs. John Dewey has said in all seriousness that the part played be custom in
shaping the behavior of the individual as over against any way in which he can
affect traditional custom, is as the proportion of the total vocabulary of his
mother tongue over against those words of his own baby talk that are taken up
into the vernacular of his family. When one seriously studies the social orders
that have had the opportunity to develop autonomously, the figure becomes no
more than an exact and matter-of-fact observation. The life history of the
individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards
traditionally handed down in his community. From the moment of his birth the
customs into which he is born shape his experience and behavior. Buy the time
he can talk, he is the little creature of his culture, and by the time he is grown an
able to take part in its activities, its habits are his habits, its belief his belief, its
impossibilities his impossibilities. Every child that is born into his group will
share them with him, and no child born into one the opposite side of the globe
can ever achieve the thousandth part. There is no social problem it is more
incumbent upon us to understand than this of the role of custom. Until we are
intelligent as to its laws and varieties, the main complicating facts of human life
must remain unintelligible.
      The study of custom can be profitable only after certain preliminary
propositions have been accepted, and some of these propositions have been
violently opposed. In the first place any scientific study requires that there be no
preferential weighting of one or another of the items in the series it selects for its
consideration. In all the less controversial fields like the study of cacti or termites
or the nature of nebulae, the necessary method of study is to group the relevant
material and to take note of all possible variant forms and conditions. In this way
we have learned all that we know of the laws of astronomy, or of the habits of the
social insects, let us say. It is only in the study of man himself that the major
social sciences have substituted the study of one local variation, that of Western
      Anthropology was by definition impossible as long as these distinctions
between ourselves and the primitive, ourselves and the barbarian, ourselves and
the pagan, held sway over people‟s minds. It was necessary first to arrive at that
degree of sophistication where we no longer wet our own belief over against our
neighbor‟s superstition. It was necessary to recognize that these institutions
which are based on the same premises, let us say the supernatural, must be
considered together, our own among the rest.

                                                           From: R. Benedict, pp. 1-4.

13. What Life Means to Me, PartⅠ
            Jack London
    I was born in the working-class. Early I discovered enthusiasm, ambition,
and ideas; and to satisfy these became the problem of my child-life. My

environment was crude and rough and raw. I had no outlook, but an uplook rather.
My place in society was at the bottom. Here life offered nothing but sordidness
and wretchedness, both of the flesh and the spirit; for here flesh and spirit were
alike starved and tormented.
      Above me towered the colossal edifice of society, and to my mind the only
way out was up. Into this edifice I early resolved to climb. Up above, men wore
black clothes and boiled shirts, and women dressed in beautiful gowns. Also,
there were good things to eat, and there was plenty to eat. This much for the flesh.
Then there were the things of the spirit. Up above me, I knew, were
unselfishnesses of the spirit, clean and noble thinking, keen intellectual living. I
knew all this because I read “Seaside Library” novels, in which, with the
exception of the villains and adventuresses, all men and women thought beautiful
thoughts, spoke a beautiful tongue, and performed glorious deeds. In shorts, as I
accepted the rising of the sun, I accepted that up above me was all that was fine
and noble and gracious, all that gave decency and dignity to life, all that made
life worth living and that remunerated one for his travail and misery.
      But it is not particularly easy for one to climb up out of the working-class
— especially if he is handicapped by the possession of ideals and illusions. I
lived on a ranch in California, and I was hard to find the ladder whereby to climb.
I early inquired the rate of interest on invested money, and worried my child‟s
brain into an understanding of the virtues and excellencies of that remarkable
invention of man, compound interest. Further, I ascertained the current rates of
wages for workers of all ages, and the cost of living. From all this data I could
then stop working and enter into participation in a fair portion of the delights and
goodnesses that would then be open to me higher up in society. Of course, I
resolutely determined not to marry, while I quite forgot to consider at all that
great rock of disaster in the working-class world — sickness.
      But the life that was in me demanded more than a meager existence of
scraping and scrimping. Also, at ten years of age, I became a newsboy on the
street of a city, and found myself with a changed uplook. All about me were still
the same sordidness and wretchedness, and up above me was still the same
paradise waiting to be gained; but the ladder whereby to climb was a different
one. It was now the ladder of business. Why save my earnings and invest in
government bonds, when, by buying two newspapers for five cents, with a turn
of the wrist I could sell them for ten cents and double my capital? The business
ladder was the ladder for me, and I had a vision of myself becoming a
baldheaded and successful merchant prince.
      Alas for visions! When I was sixteen I had already earned the title of
“prince.” But this title was given me by a gang of out-throats and thieves, by
whom I was called “The Prince of the Oyster Pirates.” And at the time I had
climbed the first rung of the business ladder. I was a capitalist. I owned a boat
and a complete oyster-pirating outfit. I had begun to exploit my fellow-creatures.
I had a crew of one man. As captain and owner I took two-thirds of the spoils,
and gave the crew one-third, though the crew worked just as hard as I did and

risked just as much his life and liberty.
      This one rung was the height I climbed up the business ladder. One night I
went on a raid amongst the Chinese fishermen. Ropes and nets were worth
dollars and cents. It was robbery, I grant, but it was precisely the spirit of
capitalism. The capitalist takes away the possessions of his fellow-creatures by
means of a rebate, or of a betrayal of trust, or by the purchase of senators and
supreme-court judges. I was merely crude. That was the only difference. I used a
      But my crew that night was one of those inefficients against whom the
capitalist is wont to fulminate, because, forsooth, such inefficients increase
express and reduce dividends. My crew did both. What of his carelessness: he set
fire to the big mainsail and totally destroyed it. There weren‟t any dividends that
night, and the Chinese fishermen were richer by the nets and ropes we did not get.
I was bankrupt, unable just then to pay sixty-five dollars for a new mainsail. I
left my boat at anchor and went off on a bay-pirate boat on a raid up the
Sacramento River. While away on this trip, another gang of bay pirates raided
my boat. They stole everything, even the anchors; and later on, when I recovered
the drifting hulk, I sold it for twenty dollars. I had slipped back the one rung I
had climbed, and never again did I attempt the business ladder.
      From then on I was mercilessly exploited by other capitalists. I had the
muscle, and they made money out of it while I made but a very indifferent living
out of it. I was a sailor before the mast, a longshoreman, a roustabout; I worked
in canneries, and factories, and laundries; I mowed lawns, and cleaned carpets,
and washed windows. And I never got the full product of my toil. I looked at the
daughter of the cannery owner, in her carriage, and knew that it was my muscle,
in part, that helped drag long that carriage on its rubber tires. I looked at the son
of the factory owner, going to college, and knew that it was my muscle that
helped, in part, to pay for the wine and good fellowship he enjoyed.
      But I did not resent this. It was all in the game. They were the strong. Very
well, I was strong. I would carve my way to a place amongst them and make
money out of the muscles of other men. I was not afraid of work. I loved hard
work. I would pitch in and work harder than ever and eventually become a pillar
of society.
      And just then, as luck would have it, I found an employer that was of the
same mind. I was willing to work, and he was more than willing that I should
work. I thought I was learning a trade. In reality, I had displaced two men. I
thought he was making an electrician out of me; as a matter of fact, he was
making fifty dollars per month out of me. The two men I had displaced had
received had received forty dollars each per month; I was doing the work of both
for thirty dollars per month.
      This employer worked me nearly to death. A man may love oysters, but too
many oysters will disincline him toward that particular diet. And so with me. Too
much work sickened me. I did not wish ever to see work again. I fled from work.
I became a tramp, begging my way from door to door, wandering over the

United States and sweating bloody sweats in slums and prisons.
      I had been born in working-class, and I was now, at the age of eighteen,
beneath the point at which I had started. I was down in the cellar of society,
down in the subterranean depths of misery about which it is neither nice nor
proper to speak. I was in the pit, the abyss, the human cesspool, the shambles and
charnel-house of our civilization. This is the part of the edifice of society that
society choose to ignore. Lack of space compels me here to ignore it, and I shall
say only that the things I there saw gave me a terrible scare.
      I was scared into thinking. I saw the naked simplicities of the complicated
civilization in which I lived. Life was a matter of food and shelter. In order to get
food and shelter men sold things. The merchant sold shoes, the politician sold his
man-hood, and the representative of the people, with exceptions, of course, sold
his trust; while nearly all sold their honor. Women, too, whether on the street or
in the holy bond of wedlock, were prone to sell their flesh. All things were
commodities, all people bought and sold. The one commodity that labor had to
sell was muscle. The honor of labor had no price in the market-place. Labor had
muscle, and muscle alone, to sell.
      But there was a difference, a vital difference. Shoes and trust and honor had
a way of renewing themselves. They were imperishable stocks. Muscle, on the
other hand, did not renew. As the shoe merchant sold shoes, he continued to
replenish his stock. But there was no way of replenishing the laborer‟s stock of
muscle. The more he sold of his muscle, the less of it remained to him. It was his
one commodity, and each day his stock of it diminished. In the end, if he did not
die before, he sold out and put up his shutters. He was a muscle bankrupt, and
nothing remained to him but to go down into the cellar of society and perish
      I learned, further, that brain was likewise a commodity. It, too, was different
from muscle. A brain seller was only at his prime when he was fifty or sixty
years old, and his wares were fetching higher prices than ever. But a laborer was
worked out or broken down at forty-five or fifty. I had been in the cellar of
society, and I did not like the place as a habitation. The pipes and drains were
unsanitary, and the air was bad to breathe. If I could not live on the parlor floor
of society, I could, at any rate, have a try at the attic. It was true, the diet there
was slim, but the air at least was pure. So I resolved to sell no more muscle, and
to become a vender of brains.

                                                    From: C. Shrodes et al, pp. 3-6.

14. What Life Means to Me, PartⅡ
                     Jack London
     Then began a frantic pursuit of knowledge. I returned to California and
opened the books. While thus equipping myself to become a brain merchant, it
was inevitable that I should delve into sociology. There I found, in a certain class

of books, scientifically formulated, the simple sociological concepts I had
already worked out for myself. Other and greater minds, before I was born, had
worked out all that I had thought and a vast deal more. I discovered that I was a
      The socialists were revolutionists, inasmuch as they struggled to overthrow
the society of the present, and out of the material to build the society of the
future. I, too, was a socialist and a revolutionist. I joined the groups of
working-class and intellectual revolutionists, and for the first time came into
intellectual living. Here I found keen-flashing intellects and brilliant wits; for
here I met strong and alert-brained, withal horny-handed, members of the
working-class; unfrocked preachers too wide in their Christianity for any
congregation of Mammon-worshippers; professors broken on the wheel of
university subservience to the ruling class and flung out because they were quick
with knowledge which they strove to apply to the affairs of mankind.
      Here I found, also, warm faith in the human, glowing idealism, sweetnesses
of unselfishness, renunciation, and martyrdom — all the splendid, stinging
things of the spirit. Here life was clean, noble, and alive. Here life rehabilitated
itself, became wonderful and glorious; and I was glad to be alive. I was in touch
with great souls who exalted flesh and spirit over dollars and cents, and to whom
the thin wail of the starved slum child meant more than all the pomp and
circumstance of commercial expansion and world empire. All about me were
nobleness of purpose and heroism of effort, and my days and nights were
sunshine and starshine, all fire and dew, with before my eyes, ever burning and
blazing, the Holy Grail, Christ‟s one Grail, the warm human, long-suffering and
maltreated, but to be rescued and saved at the first.
      And I, poor foolish I, deemed all this to be a mere foretaste of the delights
of living I should find higher above me in society. I had lost many illusions since
the day I read “Seaside Library” novels on the California ranch. I was destined to
lose many of the illusions I still retained.
      As a brain merchant I was a success. Society opened its portals to me. I
entered right in on the parlor floor and my disillusionment proceeded rapidly. I
sat down to dinner with the master of society, and with the wives and daughters
of the masters of society. The women were gowned beautifully, I admit; but to
my naïve surprise I discovered that they were of the same clay as all the rest of
the women I had known down below in the cellar. “The colonel‟s lady and Judy
O‟Grady were sisters under their skins” — and gowns.
      It was not this, however, so much as their materialism, that shocked me. It is
true, these beautifully gowned, beautiful women prattled sweet little ideals and
dear little moralities; but in spite of their prattle the dominant key of the life they
lived was materialistic. And they were so sentimentally selfish! They assisted in
all kinds of sweet little charities, and informed one of the fact, while all the time
the food they ate and the beautiful clothes they wore were bought out of
dividends stained with the blood of child labor, and sweated labor, and of
prostitution itself. When I mentioned such facts, expecting in my innocence that

these sisters of Judy O‟Grady would at once strip off their blood-dyed silks and
jewels, they became excited and angry, and read me preachments about the lack
of thrift, the drink, and the innate depravity that causal all the misery in society‟s
cellar. When I mentioned that I couldn‟t quite see that it was the lack of thrift, the
intemperance, and the depravity of a half-starved child of six that made it work
twelve hours every night in a Southern cotton mill, these sisters of Judy O‟Grady
attacked my private life and called me an “agitator” — as though that, settled
the argument.
      Nor did I fare better with the masters themselves. I had expected to find
men who were clean, noble, and alive, whose ideals were clean, noble and alive.
I went about amongst the men who sat in the high places — the preachers, the
politicians, the businessmen, the professors, and the editors. I ate meat with them,
drank wine with them, automobiled with them, and studied them. It is true, I
found many that were clean and noble; but with rare exceptions, they were not
alive. I do verily believe I could count the exceptions on the fingers of my two
hands. Where they were not alive with rottenness, quick with unclean life, they
were merely the unburied dead — clean and noble, like well-preserved
mummies, but not alive. In this connection I may especially mention the
professors I met, the men who live up to that decadent university ideal, “the
passionless pursuit of passionless intelligence.”
      I met men who invoked the name of the Prince of Peace in their diatribes
against war, and who put rifles in the hands of Pinkertons with which to shoot
down strikers in their own factories. I met men incoherent with indignation at the
brutality of prize-fighting, and who, at the same time, were parties to the
adulteration of food that killed each year more babies than even red-handed
Herod had killed.
      I talked in hotels and clubs and homes and Pullmans and steamer-chairs
with captains of industry, and marvelled at how little travelled they were in the
realm of intellect. On the other hand, I discovered that their intellect, in the
business sense, was abnormally developed. Also, I discovered that their morality,
where business was concerned, was nil.
      This delicate, aristocratic-featured gentleman, was a dummy director and a
tool of corporations that secretly robbed widows and orphans. This gentleman,
who collected fine editions and was an especial patron of literature, paid
blackmail to a heavy-jowled, black-browed boss of a municipal machine. This
editor, who published patent medicine advertisements and did not dare print the
truth in his paper about said patent medicines for fear of losing the advertising,
called me a scoundrelly demagogue because I told him that his political economy
was antiquated and that his biology was contemporaneous with Pliny.
      This senator was the tool and the slave, the little puppet of a gross,
uneducated machine boss; so was this governor and this supreme court judge;
and all three rode on railroad passes. This man, talking soberly and earnestly
about the beauties of idealism and the goodness of God, had just betrayed his
comrades in a business deal. This man, a pillar of the church and heavy

contributor to foreign missions, worked his shop girls ten hours a day on a
starvation wage and thereby directly encouraged prostitution. This man, who
endowed chairs in universities, perjured himself in courts of law over a matter of
dollars and cents. And this railroad magnate broke his word as a gentleman and a
Christian when he granted a secret rebate to one of two captains of industry
locked together in a struggle to the death.
      It was the same everywhere, crime and betrayal, betrayal and crime —
men who were alive, but who were neither clean nor noble, men who were clean
and noble but who were not alive. Then there was a great, hopeless mass, neither
noble nor alive, but merely clean. It did not sin positively nor deliberately; but it
did sin passively and ignorantly by acquiescing in the current immorality and
profiting by it. Had it been noble and alive it would not have been ignorant, and
it would have refused to share in the profits of betrayal and crime.
      I discovered that I did not like to live on the parlor floor of society.
Intellectually I was bored. Morally and spiritually I was sickened. I remembered
my intellectuals and idealists, my unfrocked preaches, broken professors, and
clean-minded, class-conscious workingmen. I remembered my days and nights
of unselfish adventure and ethical romance. And I saw before me, ever blazing
and burning, the Holy Grail.
      So I went back to the working-class, in which I had been born and where I
belonged. I care no longer to climb. The imposing edifice of society above my
head holds no delights for me. It is the foundation of the edifice that interests me.
There I am content to labor, crowbar in hand, shoulder to shoulder with
intellectuals, ideals, and class-conscious workingmen, getting a solid pry now
and again and setting the whole edifice rocking. Some day, when we get a few
more hands and crowbars to work, we‟ll topple it over, along with all its rotten
life and unburied dead, its monstrous selfishness and sodden materialism. Then
we‟ll cleanse the cellar and build a new habitation for mankind, in which there
will be no parlor floor, in which all the rooms will be bright and airy, and where
the air that is breathed will be clean, noble, and alive.
      Such is my outlook. I look forward to a time when man shall progress upon
something worthier and higher than his stomach, when there will be a finer
incentive to impel men to action than the incentive of today, which is the
incentive of the stomach. I retain my belief in the nobility and excellence of the
human. I believe that spiritual sweetness and unselfishness will conquer the gross
gluttony of today. And last of all, my faith is in the working class. As some
Frenchman has said, “The stairway of time is ever echoing with the wooden shoe
going up, the polished boot descending.”

                                                    From: C. Shrodes et al, pp. 6-9.

15. I Have a Dream…
       Martin Luther King, Jr.

      Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand,
signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great
beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the
flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night
of captivity.
      But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is
still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled
by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred
years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast
ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still
languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his
own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
      In a sense we have come to our nation‟s Capital to cash a check. When the
architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and
the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which
every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be
guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
      It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note
insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred
obligation, American has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has
come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of
justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the
great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this cheek —
a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of
justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce
urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take
the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and
desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time
to open the doors of opportunity to all of God‟s children. Now is the time to lift
our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of
      It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and
to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the
Negro‟s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn
of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope
that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude
awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest
nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The
whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until
the bright day of justice emerges.
      But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm
threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our
rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy
our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must

forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must
not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and
again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul
force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community
must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers,
as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny
is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our
freedom. We cannot walk alone.
      And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We
cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights,
“When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is
the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be
satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain
lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be
satisfied as long as the Negro‟s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger
one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and
a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are
not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and
righteousness like a mighty stream.
      I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and
tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you
have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the
storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have
been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that
unearned suffering is redemptive.
      Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go
back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our
northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
      I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and
frustrations of the moment I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the
American Dream.
      I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true
meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are
created equal.”
      I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former
slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the
table of brotherhood.
      I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state
sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an
freedom and justice.
      I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of
their character.

      I have a dream today.
      I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor‟s lips are
presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be
transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to
join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and
      I have a dream today.
      I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and
mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains, and the
crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together.
      This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this
faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With
this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a
beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work
together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up
for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
      This will be the day when all of God‟s children will be able to sing with
new meaning
                My country, ‟tis of thee,
                Sweet land of liberty,
                Of thee I sing:
                Land where my fathers died,
                Land of the pilgrims‟ pride,
                From every mountain-side
                Let freedom ring.
      And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom
ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the
mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening
Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
      Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
      Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
      But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
      Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
      Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every
mountainside, let freedom ring.
      When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every
hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day
when all of God‟s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles,
Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the
old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at

                               From: D. K. Milan and N. C. Rattner, pp. 336-339.


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