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- Problems of Conduct - 40/68 -

(5) The notorious emphasis upon crime and summary of journalistic evils. Every unpleasant fact that ought, from kindness to those concerned and from regard to the morals of the readers, to be ignored or passed lightly over, is instead dragged out into the light. The delight in besmirching supposedly respectable citizens, the brutal intrusion into private unhappiness, the detailed description of domestic tragedy, is nothing short of outrageous. Pictures of adulterers and murderers, of the instruments and scenes of crimes, precise instructions to the uninitiated for their commission, explanations of the success of burglary or train-wreckers, help marvelously to sell a paper, but do not help the morals of the younger generation. No one can estimate the amount of sexual stimulation, of suggestion to sin and vice, for which our newspapers are responsible.

(6) In conclusion, we may mention a trivial matter which, however, brings our newspapers into deserved disrepute-their self-laudation ad boasting. How many "greatest American newspapers" are there? There are even, in this country alone, more than one "World's greatest newspaper!" From this principle of conceit there are all gradations down to the humblest village paper that lies about its circulation and extols itself as the necessary adjunct of every home. These overstatements are pernicious in their influence upon public standards of accuracy and honesty.

The newspaper is potentially an instrument of incalculable good. No other influence upon the minds and morals of the people is so continuous and universal. Through the newspapers knowledge is disseminated, judgment and outlook upon life are crystallized, political and social beliefs are shaped. They might be the means of great social and moral reforms. But so long as they are subject to the struggle for existence which, necessitates their truckling to parties, to advertisers, and to public prejudices and passions, so long their influence will be largely unwholesome. If public opinion cannot force them to a higher moral level in their present status as sources of private profit, they must be published by the State or by trustees of an endowment fund. Municipally owned papers are liable to partisanship and corruption, in their way, and endowed papers to an undue regard for the interests of the class to which the majority of the trustees may belong. But the dangers would probably be far less than are inherent in our present system, where morals have to defer to pocketbooks; and when municipal government in this country is finally ordered in a sensible way, so that corruption is much more difficult and easily detected, the municipal newspaper, run after the "city manager" plan, will probably become universal.

F. Paulsen, System of Ethics, book III, chap. XI. L. Stephen, Science of Ethics, chap, V, sec. IV. C. F. Dole, Ethics of Progress, part VII, chaps, I, II. E. L. Cabot, Everyday Ethics, chaps. XIX, XX. T. K. Abbott, Kant's Theory of Ethics, Appendix I. Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, chap. IV. E. Westermarck, Origin and Development of Moral Ideas, chap. XXXI. K. F. Gerould, in Atlantic Monthly, vol. 112, p. 454. Ethics of Journalism: H. Holt, Commercialism and Journalism. H. George, Jr, The Menace of Privilege, book VII, chap. I. W. E. Weyl, The New Democracy, chap. IX. Educational Review, vol. 36, p. 121. Atlantic Monthly, vol. 102, p. 441; vol. 105, p. 303; vol. 106, p. 40; vol. 113, p. 289. Forum, vol. 51, p. 565. E. A. Ross, Changing America, chap. VII. North American Review, vol. 190, p. 587.



THE function of the newspaper, which we have been discussing, is, to a considerable extent, to widen our horizon, to give us new ideas and sympathies, to enrich and brighten our lives; in greater degree, that is the role of the fine arts, and of that wide conversance with beauty and truth that we call culture. Man is not a mere worker, and efficiency is not the only test of value; the pursuit of truth and beauty for its own sake is a legitimate human ideal. But beauty, as we have seen, brings temptations; and even the search for truth may lure a man away from his duty. We must consider, then, how far culture, and its outward expression in art, may rightly claim the time and energies of man.

What is the value of culture and art?

(1) Culture, according to Matthew Arnold, [Footnote: Culture and Anarchy, Preface, and chap. I.] is "the disinterested endeavor after man's perfection . . . . It is in endless additions to itself, in the endless expansion of its powers, in endless growth in wisdom and beauty that the spirit of the human race finds its ideal." This wisdom, this beauty that culture offers us, does not need extrinsic justification; it is, as Emerson so happily said, its own excuse for being; it is a fragment of the ideal; and it means that life has in so far been solved, its goal attained. It is in itself a great addition to the worth, the richness and joy, of life, and it is a pledge to the heart of the possibility of the ideal, a realization of that perfection for which we long and strive.

It means a multiplication of interests, a participation by proxy in the throbbing life of mankind, which lifts us above the disappointments of our personal fortunes, helps us to identify ourselves with the larger currents of life, and to live as citizens of the world. A limitless resource against ennui, it refreshes, rests, and recreates, relieves the tension of our working hours, makes for health and sanity. "If a man find himself with bread in both hands," said Mohammed, "he should exchange one loaf for some flowers of the narcissus, since the loaf feeds the body, indeed, but the flowers feed the soul."

There is in certain quarters a tendency to disparage culture as not practical-" a spirit of cultivated inaction" -unworthy of the attention of serious men. The word connotes, perhaps, to these critics certain superficial polite accomplishments, mere frills and decorations, which fritter away our time and dissipate our ambitions. But in its proper sense, culture is far more than that; it is the comprehension of the meaning of life and the appreciation of its beauty. And grim as is the age-long struggle with evil, insistent as is the duty to toil and suffer and achieve, it were a harsh taskmaster who should refuse to poor driven men and women the right to snatch such innocent joys as they can by the way, to try to understand the whirl of existence in which they are caught; in short, to really live, as well as to earn a living. It would be a sorry outcome if when we reached the age of complete mechanical efficiency, with all the machinery of a complex industrial life well oiled and perfected, we should find ourselves imaginatively sterile, hopelessly utilitarian, earthbound in our vision.

(2) But the moralist need not rest with this apology for culture. By helping us to understand the life about us, culture shows us the better how to solve our own problems, and saves us from the tragedy of putting our energies into fiction, poetry, and the drama give us an insight into the longings, the temptations, the ideals of others, and so indirectly into our own hearts. Thus a normal perspective of values is fostered; we come to learn what is base and what is excellent, and have our eyes opened to the inferior nature of that with which we had before been content. There is a pathos in the ignorance of the uncultivated man as to what is good. Give him money to spend and he will buy tawdry furniture and imitation jewelry, he will go to vulgar shows and read cheap and silly trash. He is unaware of what the best things are, and unable to spend his money in such a way as really to improve his mind, his health, or his happiness. Even in his vocation he could be helped by a background of culture; the college graduate outstrips the uneducated man who has had several years the start of him. And no one can tell how many an undeveloped genius there may be, now working at some humble and routine task, who might have contributed much to the world if his mental horizon had been widened and his latent powers unfolded. Knowledge is power; we never know what bit of apparently useless insight may find application in our own lives and help us to solve our personal problems.

(3) Moreover, culture is not only informative, it is inspirational. History and biography fire the youth with a noble spirit of emulation; poetry, fiction, and the drama, and to some extent music, painting, and sculpture, arouse the emotions and direct them-if the art is good-into proper channels. Meunier's sculptured figures, Millet's Angelus or Man with the Hoe, the oratorio of the Messiah or a national song like the Marseillaise, have a stirring and ennobling effect upon the soul; while such a poem as Moody's Ode in Time of Hesitation, a story like Dickens's Christmas Carol, or a play like The Servant in efficacious than many a sermon. The study of any art has a refining influence, teaching exactness and restraint, proportion, measure, discipline. And in any case, if no more could be said, art and culture substitute innocent joys and excitements for dangerous ones, satisfy the craving for sense-enjoyment by providing natural outlets and developing normal powers, thus tending to check its crude and unwholesome manifestations. In these ways they are valuable moral forces, whose usefulness we ought not to neglect.

(4) Culture socializes. It adds to our competitive life, to our personal ambitions and self-seeking, an unselfish pleasure, a pleasure which we can share with all, and which needs to be shared to be best enjoyed. Nothing binds men together more joyously and with less likelihood of friction than their common love of the beautiful. All classes and all peoples, men of whatever trade or interests, may learn to love the same scarlet of dawn, the same stir and heave of the sea, that Homer loved and fixed in winged words for all men of all time. From whatever land we come we may thrill to the words of English Shakespeare or Florentine Dante, to the chords of German Wagner and Italian Verdi, to the colors of Raphael and Murillo, to the noble thoughts of Athenian Plato, Roman Marcus Aurelius, and Russian Tolstoy. Our opinions differ, our interests diverge, our aims often cross; but in the presence of high truth and beauty, fitly expressed, our differences are forgotten and we are conscious of our essential unity. Prejudices and provincialisms crumble, personal eccentricities fade, barriers are broken, all sorts of fanaticisms and frictions are choked off, under the influence of a widespread cultural education. What is most important in cultural education? Wisdom and beauty are vague words; and to make our discussion practical we must indicate what in the ideal curriculum. It is a matter of relative values, since nearly every study is of some worth; and the detailed decision as to subjects and methods must be left to the expert on pedagogy. But to present the general needs that education must meet falls within our province. In addition, then, to the particular vocational education which is to fit each man for his specific task, in addition to that physical development which must always go hand in hand with intellectual growth, in addition to that moral-religious training and that preparation for parenthood, of which we shall later speak, we may mention three important ideals to be grouped under our general conception of culture.

(1) First, we must have KNOWLEDGE of the world we live in -not so much masses of facts as a comprehension of principles, insight into relations and tendencies. A man should be at home upon the earth; he should be able to call the stars by name, to realize something of the immensities by which this spinning planet is surrounded, and to see

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