The open book on the cover of this pamphlet stands for education. It is a tragedy that any human being should be shut up in the prison house of illiteracy and ignorance. One of the highest duties of the family, church and state is that of the education of the youth of the land.
Among the many enterprises that are being set on foot in this time of experiments, one could wish that there was a widespread and determined effort to bring the benefits of the rudiments of a common school education to every person under our beautiful flag. Illiteracy ought not to exist in a country like ours. By some means sufficient training ought to be brought to every person, not only the young but to older people who have had no educational advantages, so they could at least read and write.
How unfortunate the blind who cannot see the glories of our physical world and the beauties with which they are surrounded in sunrise and sunset, the towering mountains, the great trees, the beautiful shrubs, the fresh flowers, the birds with their colored plumage. One always grieves to look upon a person who is blind and walking in darkness without the hope or possibility of looking out upon our world with its changing panorama of constant attraction, beauty and wonder.
How unfortunate that person with blind mentality, who has no power to read, who knows nothing of the world’s literature, who cannot scan the daily news, or turn with delight the pages of history, or read the heart throbs of the poets who have written down the soul’s deepest emotions and highest aspirations; for a human being to go groping about in ignorance of all the vast resources of literature, science, philosophy, fiction, travel, story, with none of the enjoyment or consolations of searching the Scriptures; of the delightful pastime of reading the history of one’s native land, of perusing the pages which contain the best thought of the world’s greatest thinkers, or amusing one’s self with the interesting stories which carry such charm as to make one forget their cares. Sad indeed are those who cannot read the Holy Scriptures, inform themselves of the dealings of God with men, ponder the wisdom of the Proverbs, tune their hearts to the songs of David, follow the teachings of Christ, or journey with St. Paul in his evangelistic tours, or stand amazed at the lifting of the curtains of the future in Revelation.
One of the highest duties of parents is to look after the early education of their children, to teach them to study the proper books, to place before them not only the textbooks of the schools but to furnish them with reading that will charm and instruct them, that will not only develop their intellect but mold, strengthen, and build good character. No child, white or black, red or yellow, in this nation, or its possessions, should go without the rudiments of an education. They should at least be taught to good books, reading matter of a character to create a desire for learning an that will promote clean moral thinking, and have a tendency to produce high ideals and build good citizenship.
May I suggest to any reader of this booklet that while you may not be able to open the eyes of the blind, in order that they may see the beauties of nature, you may be able to help some person who has not had the advantages of an education; you may open mental eyes that will bring enlargement of life, the development of intellectual capacity, and create within some unfortunate person, by your assistance, an intellectual hunger that might lead on to greatness, that will at least add wonderfully to a life that otherwise would be drab, dull, uninteresting, and largely unprofitable.
The great English writer, Blair, in one of his essays has a sentence that reads thus: “If in springtime there be no buds, in summer there will be no beauty, and in autumn there will be no fruit. If youth is barren of improvement, manhood will be contemptible, and old age will be miserable.”
How unfortunate are those who have no opportunity for education and mental culture, and how reprehensible those who have opportunity for education, who could walk the paths of science, roam the wide field of literature, enjoy the story and songs of human history, and yet refuse, or fail to improve their opportunity and seek out of the best of the literature of the past that which will enlarge their capacities for usefulness and happiness, enabling them to make the most generous contribution to the advancement of human happiness, civilization and progress of mankind.
I cannot lay too much emphasis upon the importance of religious education. The young mind is hungry for information, hence the many questions of the little folk about our feet and knees. They want to know; the young mind is retentive; even in our old age, we find what we learned as children, remains permanently with us. Then, how important the fundamental truths of Christianity, like beautiful filling, be woven into the warp of the education of the young, so that, from their childhood, they have a consciousness of the Divine Being, his presence, his providential care, his guiding wisdom and compassionate love. Into the early life, and throughout the mental training of children and young people, there should be so deeply ingrafted a profound reverence for God, and a belief in his revealed truth, that it will grow into their beings and produce the fruits of righteousness and good citizenship. Men and women who fear God and keep his commandments can safely guide the affairs of Church and State, which will always mean the sacredness of the home, the guarded liberties of the people, and the safe and constant development of our American civilization.
Unfortunately, much of our education today is not only without religious emphasis, but is decidedly anti-religious. It is a lamentable fact that many teachers in our common schools, colleges and universities are atheistic. The trend of their thought and teaching faces toward the “far country” of unbelief, and, worse still, immorality. It is most unfortunate, indeed, it is reprehensible, that the State should employ and pay infidels to lead the youth of the land into the wide wilderness of all of those false philosophies that deny the existence of God, the divine revelation from him as written in the Holy Scriptures, and our obligation of reverence and obedience to God, justice and helpfulness toward our fellow beings.
How fortunate those children who, in their home training, are so rooted and grounded in religious truth, that in after years it is impossible to tear them away from their spiritual moorings, destroy their faith, break down their Christian character and lead them into the “far country,” from which few prodigals return, and many finally starve about the swine-pens of their own lusts and sin.