The other day someone asked me if so and so was cultured. That was a poser; especially since it came from one whom I respect highly, and concerned one for whom I have a great affection. I couldn't answer the question, because the word has been so badly misused that my notions of culture are about as hazy as those of the average person. Somehow we associate culture with the girl who has learned a few tricks at finishing school, or a professor with horn-rimmed spectacles, or anyone who can review the latest best seller for the Ladies Aid. They may all be cultured, and then again they may not. In other words we cannot always sometimes tell, if we judge only by externals. It is a spiritual quality--meaning it is characteristic of the inner self. Well, how do we get that way? It is the enlightenment and discipline acquired by mental and moral training. Naturally it is a relative term; and so everybody is more or less cultured. The distortions come when we try to apply it to our social customs. In the true sense, however, I can think of many inconspicuous people of refinement, who would make good companions on a deserted island, but who would be a total loss among the blue bloods. Yes, my friend, so and so, was cultured.
Did you read Dr. Clendening's syndicated article a few night's ago on the passing of his 140 year old dog. I have often wondered why a dog, more than any other, is the friend of man. Kipling wondered too, and wrote "The Cat Who Walks by Himself". Dogs can be useful in a physical sense, like the horse or cow; but no other animal can claim a right to exist for the benefit of man on the sole basis of friendship, as can a dog. A lot of you will say you prefer some other pet. But be truthful and admit some personal vanity influences your preference. A caged canary may brighten up a living room, but does the bird care two whoops for you? A cat can be a close rival, but at the best they are conceited, independent beasts. Now I am not claiming that the world was created for the sole benefit of mankind; other forms of life were created for their own sakes, I suppose. But there is an interdependence between man and the lower forms of life, at least insofar as domesticated animals and plants are concerned. Nature tells big fish to eat little fish, or starve; and man is not one mite better than a jellyfish in that respect. So man, who is self-conscious, attempts to justify his sense of superiority, and says "I alone have spiritual qualities". Then he looks into the devoted eyes of his purp, and wonders some more.
Here in Hamilton we hear a lot about bees. We are proud of being the center of a world-wide enterprise. I was going to say industry, but it is so related to agriculture that someone else will have to classify it for me. I have watched a beekeeper in action and have marvelled at his skill in exploiting the instincts of remarkable insects. The habits of a bee are much more fascinating than those of a cow, for instance, but both are typical of mans everlasting endeavor to improve on the gifts of Providence. And by these means we measure human progress, and realize how much more there is to accomplish. However, I'm getting off the track. What I am trying to lead up to is the fact that we are frequently urged to emulate the bee. If we are as "busy as a bee" we feel elated, and self-satisfied. But actually we never get that way; when the nectar is plentiful, the bee has an inordinate passion for work which drives him like mad to bring in the largest quantity his strength permits without any regard to the necessity. This single-track passion results in a worn out bee. But, you say, they exhibit the essence of cooperation, and every one performs its assigned task for the good of the tribe without stint. (Always excepting the drones). What is the reward for this self-effacement? When they are too worn out for work, they get kicked out of the hive. Thank goodness I'm not a bee, nor living in Russia.
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