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he is so sublime. And here in this place which in its name remembers a king-King's Town-democracy is thinking of the sublimity of man, is, in the midst of its dreaming of kings- of kings who are in their labor to be rulers of their share of the planet, but kings who are each to have free rule in a kingdom of the mind, stretching away from their shops, their offices, their homes.
In the midst of this scene of a state's most noble enterprise, I can but recall a place of discipline which I last visited in this state. It was a great field, beside a bit of woods, overlooking a beautiful lake. The pupils, who all wore a plain, liglit brown costume, rose at six in the morning, gave their days to drill and study, marched, shot at targets, lived on simple fare, cared for their own beds and clothes and slept in tents.
Among those pupils I recognized one whom I had seen many times seated in the chair of the Mayor of New York City; another, whom I used to know in Paris as the American Ambassador; another, whom I had conferred with in the great banking house of J. P. Morgan and Company, and still another, an author whose plays and stories I had heard or read.
As you suspect, they were men in the Plattsburg Camp, spending their vacation in preparing themselves for their country's service if they were needed.
But it occurs to me that the difference between the two places, this and that, is external only.
We are here dedicating a camp. To be sure, it has sturdy walls of brick and stone instead of canvas; it has floors instead of the bare earth; it has lavatories, radiators, artificial ventilators, thermostats, and every device to promote health and give comfort, even to the point, I sometimes fear, of encouraging softness--a camp as different in appearance from a Plattsburg row of tents as Solomon's temple was from the tabernacle in the wilderness. Yet none the less a camp, a bit of earth, a “reservation” sacredly set apart by one generation, from private occupation,-a “white acre" I have often called it, a place where the oncoming generation may tent in their preparation to serve the state; and by the state I mean not the government, but the ideal community, that which the “collectivity,” thru some mysterious longing, aspires to be.
We call this place a “school;" but a school meant originally “leisure," or a place of leisure; for so the school must have seemed to be to those who had no leisure, but had to work all the time. It is indeed a place where the child and youth, newly arrived on this planet, utterly dependent and ignorant immigrants, spend their first vacation after their long journey, before they take up the vocations of planetary life; but not a place of leisure, any more than the Plattsburg reservation was a place of leisure for those men who were spending their vacations there. No, it is or should be the most rigorous, purposeful sort of a camp: a place of self-discipline, of hard industry, a place of statemindedness, a place where the intellect is born into the purposes of the race-mind, a place of as demanding labor as the comrades of these students endure who enter shop or factory or office or field at their age.
The only real difference between this camp and that by Lake Champlain is that one exists for military preparedness and the other for physical, intellectual, spiritual, community preparedness. They are both designed to prepare for war, but for different kinds of warfare.
The Vice-President of the United States is reported to have said recently that we ought to introduce military instruction in our schools, that is, make them military camps, because, as he intimates, the children have more time for such drill than those who are in the industries or professions. And others in high position are making like suggestion. Against such a program I have protested and would continue to protest, not because I object to the drill in itself, (for I do not), but because I think we ought not to make that which implies a perpetuation of international hatreds and brutish warfare a purposeful feature of the education of our children. I can, tho with difficulty, conceive of conditions which might make such emergency training necessary; but I can not bring myself to believe that we are to let our whole system of education reach its acme in recrudescent savagery or in preparation for it.
On the other hand, I would, as I have often stated, have the children and youth disciplined, organized, with the same rigor to fight the real foes of mankind, the savage instincts or latencies in ourselves, the hostile forces of physical nature, to fight for the absolute good, but to fight as nobly as the absolute good demands; and not for individual selves alone but for something of which our selves are but an ephemeral, yet significant, part, the state.
A camp for such welfare I should like to make every school, public and private; a place not only where children are trained to realize their individual potencies, but where all shall feel themselves a contributing part in the making of a better community, a better state, a better world, a finer race on the planet--or, as William James put it in philosopher's phrase, where all should be conscious of serving or preparing themselves to serve a "collectivity" superior, in some ideal aspect, to themselves.
For the whole end of life is the culture of the spirit of man; and the body in its own physical comfort or social ministrations is to be thought of only as it contributes to that exaltation. The state, the nation, exists but to give it freedom for highest development and noblest activity-to let man find his way upward and onward from the savage, in response to the calling of mysterious voice of the mind's desire. And those who discipline their minds for the marches and the trenches of that calling--they are indeed worthy to camp beside those who put on khaki and learn the art of physical battle.
"To fight alone or with many," this was the oath which the Athenian youth took when he entered upon his citizenship, but it was ever to fight and never for himself. Life is indeed battle, but not with the munitions which are today in use in Belgium, Poland and Servia, not with weapons which discredit the very ideals in which they are employed.
I remember that some editor criticized me last year for
using even a martial figure in speaking of the teachers and children in our schools. But while I would fight with all my personal and official might to keep militarism out of our schools, I would fight as ardently to make or keep our schools as camps in which we prepare our children, thru rigorous training, simple living, democratic comradeship, obedience to authority, and concert in action, to carry on the wars in which our spirits struggle today, in which our minds adventure for truth beyond the trenches they now hold, in which our bodies fight with bacilli and passions, with heat and cold and hunger and thirst.
A Russian, whose name I have forgotten and who may even now be nothing more than a carcass lying out in a field, said long before the war in Poland:
“Our awfullest enemies, the elements and germs and insect destroyers, attack us every minute without cease, yet we murder one another as if we were out of our senses. Death is ever on the watch for us, and we think of nothing but to snatch a few patches of land! About 5,000,000,000 days of work go every year to the displacement of boundary lines. Think of what humanity could obtain if that prodigious effort were devoted to fighting our real enemies, the noxious species and our hostile environment. We should conquer them in a few years. The entire globe would turn into a model farm. Every plant would grow for our use. The savage animals would disappear, and the infinitely tiny animals would be reduced to impotence by hygiene and cleanliness. The earth would be conducted according to our convenience. In short, the day men realize who their worst enemies are, they will form an alliance against them, they will cease to murder one another like wild beasts from sheer folly. Then they will be the true rulers of the planet, the lords of creation."
Rulers of the planet! What a comedy this must seem to the God of the Universe-human beings fighting one another instead of fighting the common enemies of mankind. Here are you to train true rulers, ideal kings.
Language and mathematics, biology and physics and chemistry, history and civics, music, poetry and art, are, after all, the mental "manual of arms,” the "tactics" by which men are enabled not only to develop themselves but to learn to move and act together, in the conquests of the mind. And in the conflicts, of which these and like disciplines give intimation, and for which they help to give preparedness, are to be found what William James has called the “moral equivalent of war."
Shortly before his death, that beloved poet, Richard Watson Gilder, who in his young manhood was a soldier, wrote these lines for me. They are the prophecy of new
"Twas said: "When roll of drum and battle's roar
That he a thousand thousand lives might save.
I said after seeing the camp at Plattsburg that I wished every able-bodied man might be conscripted to spend his vacation in preparing for some higher community service. Under our compulsory education law, we have conscripted our children to spend years in our elementary schools, public or private. But this is a voluntary camp, or if there is conscription for it, the conscription is of the desires and sacrifices of parents or the worthy aspirations of the youth who enlist. You are giving every boy, every girl, a chance to make this purposeful preparation.
And I am thinking what a splendid thing it would be for the community if all young men and women, even