by Susan Parker Cobbs 苏珊·科布斯
IT HAS NOT been easy for me to meet this assignment. In the first place, I am not a very articulate person, and then one has so many beliefs, changing and fragmented and transitory beliefs---besides the ones most central to our lives. I have tried hard to pull out and put into words my most central beliefs.
I hope that what I say won’t sound either too simple or too pious.
I know that it is my deep and fixed conviction that man has within him the force of good and the power to translate force into life.
For me, this means that a pattern of life that makes personal relationships more important. A pattern that makes more beautiful and attractive the personal virtues: courage, humility, selflessness and love.
I used to smile at my mother because the tears came so readily to her eyes when she heard or read of some incident that called out these virtues. I don’t smile any more because I find I have become more and more responsive in the same inconvenient way to the same kind of story.
And so I believe that I both can and must work to achieve the good that is in me. The words of Socrates keep coming back to me: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
By examination we can discover what is our good and we can realize that knowledge of good means its achievement. I know that such self-examination has never been easy---Plato maintained that it was soul’s central search. It seems to me peculiarly difficult now. In a period of such rapid material expansion and such wide spread conflicts, black and white have become gray and will not easily separate.
There is a belief which follows this. If I have the potential of the good life within me and compulsion to express it, then it is a power and compulsion common to all men. What I must have for myself to conduct my search, all men must have: freedom of choice, faith in the power and the beneficent qualities of truth.
What frightens me most today is the denial of these rights, because this can only come from the denial of what seems to me the essential nature of man. For if my conviction holds, man is more important than anything he has created and our great task is to bring back again into a subordinate position the monstrous superstructures of our society.
I hope this way of reducing our problems to the human equation is not simple an evasion of them. I don’t believe it is. For most of us it is the area in which we can work : the human area---with ourselves, with the people we touch, and through these two by vicarious understanding, with mankind. I believe this is the safest starting point.
I watch young people these days wrestling with our mighty problems. They are much more concerned with them and involved in them than my generation of students ever was.
They are deeply aware of the words “quality” and “justice” In their great desire to right wrong they are prone to forget that causes are people, that nothing matters more than people. They need to add to their crusades the warmer and more affecting virtues of compassion and love. And here again come those personal virtues that bring tears to the eyes.
One further word, I believe that the power of good within us is real and comes there from a source outside and beyond ourselves. Otherwise, I could not put my trust so firmly in it.