Friday, June 24, 2011

Wider, Humbler Cognisance of Self

We spent the day under a thick marine layer that never burned off at the beach for nature study today. The kids didn't seem to notice as they dove in, testing the current in the cold foamy ocean waves.

(Shaw's Cove, Laguna Beach - a not quite finished sketch!)

Their more sensible Mothers sat on the beach and sketched with one eye on the children while chatting away about this and that. Juliet had her copy of Charlotte Mason's Vol. 5 Formation of Character and read us part of this quote:

Formation of Character, Vol. 5, p.72-73

...the love of power, unless it be duly and carefully regulated and controlled, leads to arbitrary behaviour––that is, to lawless, injurious behaviour––towards those under our rule. Nay, we may be so carried away, intoxicated, by a fierce lust of power that we do some terrible, irrevocable deed of cruelty to a tender child––body or soul, and wake up to never-ending remorse. We meant no harm; we meant to teach obedience, and, good God! we have killed a child.

Within the last few years tales have been told in the newspapers of the savage abuse of power, free for the time being from external control; tales, which, be they true or not, should make us all commune with our hearts and be still. For, we may believe it, they who have done these things are no worse than we could be; they had opportunity to do ill deeds, and they did them. We have not been so far left to ourselves. But let us look ourselves in the face; let us recognise that the principle which has betrayed others into the madness of crime is inherent in us also, and that whether it shall lead us to heights of noble living or to criminal cruelty is not a matter to be left to the chapter of accidents. We have need of the divine grace to prevent and follow us, and we have need to seek consciously, and diligently use this grace to keep us who are in authority in the spirit of meekness, remembering always that the One who is entrusted with the rod of iron is meek and lowly of heart.

In proportion as we keep ourselves fully alive to our tendency in this matter of authority may we trust ourselves to administer the law to creatures so tender in body and soul as are the little children. We shall remember that a word may wound, that a look may strike as a blow. It may indeed be necessary to wound in order to heal, but we shall examine ourselves well before we use the knife. There will be no hasty dealing out of reproof and punishment, reward and praise, according to the manner of mood we are in. We shall not only be aware that our own authority is deputed, and to be used with the meekness of wisdom; but we shall be very careful indeed in our choice of the persons in whose charge we place our children. It is not enough that they be good Christian people. We all know good Christian persons of an arbitrary turn who venture to wield that rod of iron which is safe in the hands of One alone. Let them be good Christian persons of culture and self-knowledge; not the morbid self-knowledge that comes of introspection, but that wider, humbler cognisance of self that comes of a study of the guiding principles and springs of action common to us all as human beings, and which brings with it the certainty that––"I am just such an one as the rest, and might even be as the worst, were it not for the grace of God and careful walking."

First off, lets just agree that when she speaks of killing a child or using the knife - that's a metaphor. She's not suggesting anyone really use a knife. Good, now that we've got that out of the way...

Truth is so powerful when we see it isn't it?

'I am just such an one as the rest, and might even be as the worst, were it not for the grace of God and careful walking'

I wonder who she was quoting. If we were to truly believe and live by this always, how different we would be.

She goes on:
...we must rule with diligence. It is necessary for the children that we should; but we must keep ourselves continually in check, and see that our innate love of power finds lawful outlet in the building up of a child's character, and not in the rude rebuff, the jibe and sneer, the short answer and hasty slap which none of us older people could conceivably endure ourselves, and yet practise freely on the children "for their good."

God help us to see our children as persons and ourselves with that 'wider, humbler cognisance of self'!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this. You make me wish that I had CM friends nearby!