January 29, 1934
An advertisement of the Newspaper Institute of America, 1776 Broadway, N. Y., provides a "Writing aptitude Test", which is supposed to reveal the fundamental qualities necessary to successful writing - acute observation, dramatic instinct, creative imagination, etc. Believe I'll send for it.
During Wayne's sermon yesterday Garth nudged me when reference was made to an exception in the rule of forgiving and forgetting petty grievences; or rather important grievences, such as the lack of social-consciousness of industry, were regarded as outside the scope of the sermon. My turn to nudge came later when my get-out-what- you-put-in theme was given authority from the pulpit. Garth conceded that a two-to-one majority was convincing.
We finally went to Hamilton a week ago to enjoy the long-deferred hospitality of the Letts. We found a snug little home on the edge of a beautiful setting of fields and woodland, and a sumptuous meal in which we gorged ourselves until nearly rolling under the table. Mrs. Jimmy did herself proud as a hostess, and Jimmy did not fail my expectations of some genuine inquery into what everything is all about. With considerable gusto he produced the current issue of the American magazine, and the jaunty contest offered for answers to the 18-year old's question "Does it pay to be honest?" Now that I look back, I don't remember Jim's opinion, if he had any, for I still felt pretty important after the recent X Club explosion, and I must have monopolized the comments, in a most ungracious manner. Anyway, Methusila (spelling is a thorn in the side to me) felt that here is more evindence of the sophistication of youth challanging the everlasting truths which can only be attained by experience. Youth can only see material accomplishment as a yard stick of success. He cannot see spiritual success, and no amount of precept talk will make any dent in his preconceived notions. Wisdom comes from suffering, not from bitter theorizing. The portraits of men who have gained success by dishonest means, are one-sided: a glimpse inside would not reveal happiness as the reward. Happiness is an experience, not the result of mere physical satisfaction - it is a practical, hard fact that bucking the time-proven rules of society ultimately brings disillusionment and wreckage. The choice of right or wrong is not affected by social trends incidental to a depression. The decision to do right is absolutely the only basis one can count on to come through any period of discouragement with flying colors. The fact that the youth of today are facing a jobless world is serious - all the more because of their lack of spiritual equipment to cope with the odds. Normally they are gradually assimilated into mature activities, their short-comings are allowed for, and they grow through grim contacts with realities, into balanced perspectives. Denied this period of adjustment, they make rash attempts at shot-cuts, unless they have a particularly strong background to sustain their gropings. My advice to the young man in question (and advice to the young is cheap, because of lack of adult sympathy, and not because adults lack a supposed vision of youthful ambition) is to fortify himself with all the faith he can muster. This faith should be founded in the very principles of defeat he sees in his parents. Mind you, don't become a defeatist - keep the chin up - but your father is essentially right, even though you will not see it that way untill you have tasted of more of the bumps and boosts of life for yourself. Branch off from your family according to your own lights, but never neglect your foundations: the sap of life still surges from the established and weather-beaten trunk. Take that on faith, young man, like the doctor's pill; and your indigestion will be cured by the healing power of time.
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