This following words come from the quarterly journal of parent education published by the Child Study Association of America. It describes an upcoming conference sponsored by CSAA. My grandmother, Jennie L. Whitehill, was the Chair of the Board of CSAA for many years, including the time of this conference, March 1954. Nana Jennie would have been 113 years old today
Child Study Association of America is long gone but the Program Statement of the CSAA Annual Conference of March 1, 1954 resounds loudly today, 66 years later.
Courage - its roots in family and community living
In all times, the community has counted on the courage of individual men and women to maintain significant beliefs and pursue common goals. Individuals in turn have looked to one another and to the community for mutual support.
Now, as the community widens to a whole world, and united action is demanded on a huge scale, the need for personal courage and strength becomes ever more urgent.
The scene we live in and the problems we face seem remote even from those of a generation ago, they are startlingly new and sometimes overwhelming. Many of the traditions which have sustained us are under attack, so that it sometimes seems that democracy itself is scarcely understood. In the stress of today’s living, family ties are loosened, men and women are lonely, parents are bewildered. It is no wonder courage often fails us.
Yet people throughout the world do carry on their daily lives with unbelievable courage, sustained by the tradition and knowledge and the aspirations which are their heritage from the past. They are heartened by the conviction that the great majority of their fellowmen share with them the task of finding new sources of strength to meet the demands of the day.
What is this quality of courage? What are its sources? How can parents preserve their own strengths and communicate them to their children? How can they keep their own integrity and sense of individual purpose in a world that calls for collective purpose and unified direction?
The aim of this Conference is to explore the nature of, and need for, courage in our time, drawing on the contributions of psychiatry, sociology, anthropology, education and religion to shed light on these questions. It is an attempt to determine the sources of courage within the family and within the community, and the ways in which this strength can be passed on to others, especially to children.
In these strange times we each need to find the courage and strength to move ourselves forward, courage that shines from our hearts and fills us with the strength of which we are in need. We can find the wellsprings of courage inside each one of us, and we can be inspired and strengthened by community members who are walking this path with us.
The late John Lewis said, ended his final essay with these words:
I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.