Growth in maturity
Throughout the world, there is the tendency to recognize important social needs only when there is a crisis. However, we need not wait for a time of crisis to attend to our nascent problems. We must be proactive. One way to do this is to have a proper understanding of the human mechanism.
The beginning of a new scholastic year is a very privileged occasion for a reflection on the concept of education that we espouse. Nothing is static in this world. Indeed, we live in a world of movement. And those who cannot or will not move on will be left behind. Evolution is an essential fact of life. A great educator, John Henry Newman, very accurately states: "All life evolves, and to be perfect is to have changed often."
For most people, education is merely the process of acquiring new knowledge. It also consists in deepening our knowledge and understanding of things which we have always known. But a very important aspect of education is relating our experiences. It is bringing to light and valorizing the ideals, qualities, dispositions and propensities, which are within us. These things could bring to us the fullness of life if only we recognized them, nurtured them and embraced them.
By the same token, there are many things within us, hidden in the depth of our hearts, which could be self-destructive if they remain buried in our being and are never brought to light. There is much within every human being which spells disaster if it is not subject to scrutiny and is never challenged.
An important part of the process of education should be getting students to speak about themselves. Far from being a burden and a threat, it could be very beneficial. It is good to be self-revelatory. It is very conducive to growth in maturity. It is enriching. It is the stuff of which great minds and noble hearts are made. This writer knows personally someone who has been blessed with that gift. It has been a tremendous asset on the path to excellence.
Educators should take note of this. They should encourage students to be open and speak of their hopes and their fears, their strengths and their weaknesses. Of course, great respect must be shown to those who unburden their minds and hearts to them. There is always the risk and danger of manipulation.
In this world, many look outside of themselves for adventure. Climbing Mountains, swimming across Channels, participating in the Olympics, are very adventurous pursuits. In fact, rewards for them are not lacking. But there is another kind of adventure that is most stimulating and rewarding. This is the adventure of the mind.
"Know Thyself" has never been an easy or gratifying prospect. It has little attraction for most people in the world. They carve their lives far from any such consideration. They find it more fascinating to probe the lives of others, particularly their enemies. Many people ruin their lives and that of their families because they never recognized that they had a big problem.
Today, Dr. Benjamin Carson, an Afro-American, is one of the greatest brain surgeons in the world. He has performed fantastic operations. But he has not always looked like the person whom he turned out to be. He came to know himself the hard way. He had to take the bull by the horns!
As a boy, he was plagued with uncontrollable anger. On one occasion, he was about to strike his mother on her back. He was stopped in time by his brother. On another occasion, he hit a boy on his head with a metallic object. It demanded a few stitches. He still did not recognize that he had a serious problem on his hands.
But one day, he was at a friend's home. The television was on. He changed it to another station. His friend immediately turned it back. Ben Carson got so angry that he took out his knife and thrust it at his bosom. Fortunately, the blade struck the buckle of his friend's belt. His friend gazed at him in disbelief. Ben Carson himself was devastated. How could he threaten the life of his own friend?
Ben Carson immediately went home. He locked himself in the bathroom for four hours. There he was overcome with tears, bewailing what he now recognized as vicious, uncontrolled anger. Turning to God, he begged that he would be delivered of that "beast" lodged in his being. Ben Carson then realized that his basic weakness was that instinctively he had made a world for himself in which he was at the centre. Everyone was to be subservient to him. He resolved that this was to change. Now he was on the way to greatness.
The English writer, Gilbert Chesterton, said that he found in himself enough material for two beings, one constructive and the other subversive. This is so for all mortals. But most of us do not recognize it. There are many things in the human mechanism that cling to us and will not yield. We could describe them, in the words of the English poet, Francis Thompson, as "their traitorous trueness and their loyal deceit." These qualities or forces hinder us from being our true self. They need exposure to be overcome. Who will help us to make this a reality? This should be considered one of the outstanding roles of education.