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Methods of social advance; short studies in social practice by various authors online

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social legislation. Bat to produce the capable administrator
is a different matter. The man of theory is not distrusted
without reason. What is wanted at the present time is the
man of action who knows enough to reject obsolete methods,
and to seize upon and to apply the methods which embody
sound principles. The course of teaching outlined above is
far too likely to produce the doctrinaire reformer, or possibly
the philosopher, who pace Plato is not the best ruler or
administrator. Let us admit the force of the objection. It
serves to point the moral on which we too would insist. Pass-
ing by the advantages which would certainly result from a
fuller and more widespread understanding, among educated
people, of the science of social life, we will side with the
practical man in insisting that there shall be no divorce
between practice and theory. The chief value of social educa-
tion, from our point of view, depends upon its close connection
with experience and practical work. The laboratory must be
joined to the study ; the knowledge of principles which is to
illuminate our practice must itself be brought to the test of
experience by the learner. In other words, it will not be
enough to establish a course of teaching on the lines of a
University curriculum leading up to a degree. This is one
side, but only one, of the necessary training. In close connec-
tion with it must be the practical education, the laboratory
work, in so far as the analogy can be applied to work in which,
while all our efforts are experimental, wilful experiment is the
last thing to be allowed. The student must study the con-
crete material to be found in existing social conditions. It is
doubtful whether this can be done by simple observation ; at
any rate it will be better done, and without danger, if he is



188 METHODS OF SOCIAL ADVANCE

set to work in some of the simplest and most natural * ways
under the guidance of an experienced administrator or
social worker.

On this union, then, of practical experience with the
teaching of theory we must insist, not indeed in deference to
the demands of the practical man, but in order to give reality
to the learner's studies. As a subject for education, Social
Science is exposed to many dangers : by no means the least
is the danger that acquaintance with theory may be but the
incentive to more theorising. Against this there is no safe-
guard except contact with actual conditions and facts, with the
existing raw material of the science. But there is nothing
unreasonable in the faith that, so guarded, the teaching will
raise to a higher level the work of the administrator, check the
pitiful waste of effort which often passes for philanthropy,
and open up opportunities of a social service which shall serve,
and not merely encumber, the cause of national well-being.

E. J. U.

1 By ' natural ' we mean, most of all, ways of working which do not
involve patronage, but bring the worker into more or less equal relations
with his poorer neighbours.



189



XVII
<IF CITIZENS BE FEIENDS '

As the reader will have noticed, no definite plan, but a general
idea, underlies the papers in this book. Of the words ' justice '
or ' friendship ' or ' love ' or * charity ' little use is made.
Yet probably the word Charity in its older and fuller signifi-
cation represents more nearly than any other the motive of the
authors. And for those who accept that signification, Charity
is not general philanthropy or any of the diverse forms of
relief, but a social principle. Accordingly it has a social
purpose ; it requires a social discipline ; it works through
sympathy ; it depends on science ; and in fervency it is
religious.

Ultimately society is based on Charity on love working f
through the individual and the social life ; and social advance -
depends largely on the ability of the people to realise this -
principle and to act upon it.

Its first thought is to understand, and to treat with the
reverence that comes of understanding, the growing arid
expanding elements out of which society is formed the
individual, and the family, the groups of members within the
community, and the community itself. Its first task is to
preserve these in strength and vigour, so that each may fulfil
its function for the common good.

In a community much is settled by precedent and routine,
but there are points of change and growth which constantly
challenge our attention and our intelligence, where the
struggle lies between deterioration or advance. On these



190 METHODS OF SOCIAL ADVANCE

points Charity has to concentrate all its efforts to prevent the
destruction of the social organism to ensure that each part
shall fulfil its social purpose. Indeed, whether the aim be
consciously recognised or not it may be said that the purpose of
Charity is social preservation that the law of preservation in
communities is Charity.

The social life implies discipline. This may spring from
habits grown almost instinctive and handed down from the
past like heirlooms, accepted out of regard for the family, for
the better development of individual qualities, and for the good
of the whole community. Such are good family traditions in
every rank of life. Or the discipline may be newly imposed
in order to brace the individual, or the family, or the nation,
to a new endeavour. Thus some new law may be passed
which would require of each generation of men to make them-
selves competent defenders of their country in case of invasion.
We argue often as if the factors the individual, the family,
and the nation were separate and acted in isolation. In
truth, however, they are but parts and expressions of one
social life and have one common interest. And ifc is out of
regard for that common interest that the discipline is accepted.
The individual claim is coloured and modified by the claim of
the family, and the family in its turn acquires a greater force
that it may the better breed and harbour and educate the
individual. So, for instance, they would spoil the very
organism of society who would distract a mother from her
household duties by feeding her children in such a way that
she cared less and less to prepare their daily meals for them
letting her become ever less competent to fulfil her duty.
Or, to take another instance, equally too would those spoil
our social organism who would shrink from the exercise of that
salutary though severe discipline which society would impose
on its members for such an object as the prevention of over-
crowding. Here, as at so many other points where processes
of change and development are at work, from the point of
view of Charity all are interested and should be brought like a



'IF CITIZENS BE FKIENDS' 191

military body into the field, weekly tenants, leaseholders, land-
lords, the volunteer forces and the civic functionaries.

Or again, to preserve the organism of society, Charity,
with its constant scrutiny of facts and its regard for social
efficiency, would modify our system of education on two sides
to ensure that our methods promote real practical skill and
ability, and that, no less, our people should understand the
responsibilities of social life. And so in other ways.

Because Charity thus claims a social purpose and will not
be relegated to the position of a Dorcas, it does not lack
sympathy for the individual and for the group. Charity
without sympathy cannot exist. Sympathy is the clue by
which it is led through the maze the confusions of cross
claims and competing interests out to the right road. But
when the right road has been reached, the logic of sympathy
does not leave Charity like a vagrant loitering on a high street.
There it sets her to work to meet and ward off distress, and
to prevent degradation. Otherwise, it is but imperfect
sympathy, the broken clue that does not run from end to end
of the path in the maze, but starts and stops, is found and
is lost again. And Charity, if she moves on, feeling for this
with her hand, suddenly finds herself perplexed, deserted, and
hopeless ; and then, as may often be, with one who has < lost
her head,' she falters and fumbles and clutches wildly at any
suggestion. Her clue has been but a partial sympathy,
largely indifferent to results or else engrossed in some single
phase of want.

Thus, if sympathy with the sick were not imperfect, con-
fined to one side or phase of the evils that sickness represents,
it could not let patients come for diagnosis and treatment
at a hospital, to return to conditions that will inevitably
involve yet more and recurrent diagnoses and treatments
endless and always ineffective. It would ally itself with other
forces to prevent deterioration. But in so far as it is im-
perfect, it is satisfied ; and the blind lead the blind.

And so with knowledge. If Charity be the principle of



192 METHODS OF SOCIAL ADVANCE

social life, to those who have faith in it, it is of infinite
importance to know how things have come to be what they
are. If the history of the development of social life is the
history of the assumption by the people of new qualities and
abilities ; if the loss of certain characteristics has meant the
destruction of a race or a nation, and the retention of them
has been the means of combating economic difficulty and
triumphing over degradation, what can be more serviceable
than the study of this history ? Whatever name we give to the
science Social History, Social Science or Sociology it opens
the way to Charity. It reinforces the power of observation,
which is often stimulated for the first time by the responsi-
bilities of practical work, and it gives to practical work
patience and a more persistent purpose.

And, at least in one sphere of thought, religion is Charity
made fervent. It is humble that they may creep into the
lowliest door which sympathy can open, and it is guided by
the ideal, the pattern of the good that will be.

C. S. L.




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Online LibraryUnknownMethods of social advance; short studies in social practice by various authors → online text (page 16 of 16)