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Problems of Humanity - Chapter II - The Problem of the Children of the World
The Immediate Need of the Children

The magnitude of the problems to be faced may well leave us bewildered and at a loss how to answer the many questions which immediately arise in our minds. How can we lay the foundation for a long range program of reconstruction, of education and development as it affects the youth of the world and thus guarantee a new and better world? What basic plans must be laid which will be appropriate for so many differing races and nationalities? In the face of understandable hatreds and deep seated prejudices, how can we make a sound beginning?

The ethical and moral values among the children, particularly among the adolescent boys and girls, have deteriorated and the spiritual values will need awakening. There is direct evidence, however, that this spiritual awakening is already sweeping over Europe and that perhaps from that continent may come that new spiritual tide which will turn the entire world to better things and which will ensure that our materialistic civilization has gone, never to return. A spiritual renaissance is inevitable and is nowhere more needed than in those countries which have escaped the worst aspects of war. For this renaissance we must look and make preparation. [41]

The next urgent problem is surely the psychological rehabilitation of youth. It is a question whether the children of Europe, of China, of Great Britain and Japan will ever completely recover from the effects of war. The early and formative years of their lives have been spent under war conditions and - resilient as children are - there are bound to be certain traces left of what they have seen, heard and suffered. There will be exceptions, particularly in Great Britain and parts of France. Time alone will indicate the extent of the damage done. Much can, however, be offset and even obliterated by the wise action of parents, doctors, nurses and educators. It is sad to report that little has been planned by the psychologists and neurologists along this needed line of salvage; yet their specialized work is sorely needed and is as urgent a demand as that for food and clothing.

It is valuable also to remind ourselves in all our planning and with all our good intentions that the various nations, involved in the world war and whose countries have felt the full brunt of occupation, are laying their own plans. They know what they want; they are determined, as far as possible, to care for their own people, to salvage their own children, to restore their own special cultures and their lands. The task of the Great Powers (with their vast resources) and of the philanthropists and humanitarians throughout the world should be to cooperate with these people. It is not their task to impose upon them what they, from the vantage point of their position, believe to be good for them. These nations want understanding cooperation; they want the implements for agriculture, immediate relief in food and clothing, plus the wherewithal to start again their educational institutions, to organize their schools and to equip them with what is immediately required. They certainly do not want a horde of [42] well-meaning people taking over their educational or medical institutions, or imposing democratic, communistic or any other particular ideology upon them. Naturally, the principles of Nazism and of Fascism must be swept away, but the nations must be free to work out their own destiny. They have each of them their own traditions, cultures and backgrounds. They are being forced to build anew but what they build must be their own; it must be distinctive of them and an expression of their own inner life. It is surely the function of the wealthier and free nations to help them to build so that the new world can come into being. Each nation must tackle the problem of its restoration in its own way.

This need not mean disunity; it should mean a richer and more colorful world. It need not mean separation or the building of barriers or the retiring behind walls of prejudice and racial bias. There are two major linking relationships which should be cultivated and which will bring about a closer understanding in the world of men. These are religion and education. In this chapter we are considering the factor of education which has in the past so greatly failed to promote world unity (as the war has proved) but which can in the future so wisely control.

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