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by [?]

Originally the sophist was a lover of truth; then he became a lover of words that concealed truth, and the chief end of his existence was to balance a feather on his nose and keep three balls in the air for the astonishment and admiration of the bystanders.

Education is something else.

Education is growth, development, life in abundance, creation.

We grow only through exercise. The faculties we use become strong, and those we fail to use are taken away from us.

This exercise of our powers through which growth is attained affords the finest gratification that mortals know. To think, reason, weigh, sift, decide and act–this is life. It means health, sanity and length of days. Those live longest who live most.

The end of college education to the majority of students and parents is to secure a degree, and a degree is valuable only to the man who needs it. Visiting the office of the “Outlook,” a weekly, religious newspaper, I noticed that the titles, Rev., Prof, and Dr., and the degrees, M. D., D. D., LL. D., Ph. D., were carefully used by the clerks in addressing envelopes and wrappers. And I said to the manager, “Why this misuse of time and effort? The ink thus wasted should be sold and the proceeds given to the poor!” And the man replied, “To omit these titles and degrees would cost us half our subscription-list.” And so I assume that man is a calculating animal, not a thinking one.

And the point of this sermonette is that truth is not monopolized by universities and colleges; nor must we expect much from those who parade degrees and make professions. It is one thing to love truth and it is another thing to lust after honors.

The larger life–the life of love, health, self-sufficiency, usefulness and expanding power–this life in abundance is often taught best out of the mouths of babes and sucklings. It is not esoteric, nor hidden in secret formulas, nor locked in languages old and strange.

No one can compute how much the bulwarked learned ones have blocked the path of wisdom. Socrates, the barefoot philosopher, did more good than all the Sophists with their schools. Diogenes, who lived in a tub, searched in vain for an honest man, owned nothing but a blanket and a bowl, and threw the bowl away when he saw a boy drinking out of his hand, even yet makes men think, and so blesses and benefits the race. Jesus of Nazareth, with no place to lay his tired head, associating with publicans and sinners, and choosing his closest companions from among ignorant fishermen, still lives in the affections of millions of people, a molding force for good untold. Friedrich Froebel, who first preached the propensity to play as a pedagogic dynamo, as the tides of the sea could be used to turn the countless wheels of trade, is yet only partially accepted, but has influenced every teacher in Christendom and stamped his personality upon the walls of schoolrooms unnumbered. Then comes Richard Wagner, the political outcast, writing from exile the music that serves as a mine for much of our modern composing, marching down the centuries to the solemn chant of his “Pilgrims’ Chorus”; William Morris, Oxford graduate and uncouth workingman in blouse and overalls, arrested in the streets of London for haranguing crowds on Socialism, let go with a warning, on suspended sentence–canceled only by death–making his mark upon the walls of every well-furnished house in England or America; Jean Francois Millet, starved out in art-loving Paris, his pictures refused at the Salon, living next door to abject want in Barbizon, dubbed the “wild man of the woods,” dead and turned to dust, his pictures commanding such sums as Paris never before paid; Walt Whitman, issuing his book at his own expense, publishers having refused it, this book excluded from the mails, as Wanamaker immortalized himself by serving a like sentence on Tolstoy; Walt Whitman, riding on top of a Broadway ‘bus all day, happy in the great solitude of bustling city streets, sending his barbaric yawp down the ages, singing paeans to those who fail, chants to Death–strong deliverer–and giving courage to a fear-stricken world; Thoreau, declining to pay the fee of five dollars for his Harvard diploma “because it wasn’t worth the price,” later refusing to pay poll-tax and sent to jail, thus missing, possibly, the chance of finding that specimen of Victoria regia on Concord River–Thoreau, most virile of all the thinkers of his day, inspiring Emerson, the one man America could illest spare; Spinoza, the intellectual hermit, asking nothing, and giving everything–all these worked their philosophy up into life and are the type of men who jostle the world out of its ruts–creators all, one with Deity, sons of God, saviors of the race.