Strait_v1n11_1972-03

The

* * * In the area of education--which is what our students have asked us to hear about--and write about--some of the old repetitive verities are coming to the fore: the issues of FREEDOM OF CHOICE and the issue of QUOTAS. It has become common place to form interest groups and to demand from faculty and administra- tion that a certain course be given in the name of freedom of choice . It has also become common place to attend a course for a while and then, after the first test or when the going gets rough, to aban- don the course . We are opposed to both options for a variety of reasons : (Undergraduate) education ought to be properly speaking "educating the whole man''. If one can replace in High School the history of the French Revolution by a course in sewing (this is a true story!) what kind of student receives the col- lege; what average standard can the university de- pend on. The student then learns what he knows already, and rare indeed is the student who, know- ing himself weak in the sciences, for instance takes courses that test his mettle in that area. Moreover, the choice of required courses is s~ large and their focus so small, usually misleadingly and euphemistically titled and described in the cata- logue, that the student is wholly unable to make any intelligent use of his freedom. Regarding the early abandonment of courses, there are, of course, some of us who wish to create a group feeling of cooperative study, rather than a wild competitive struggle; but even for those teach- ers who do not care about group morale in class, the tempatation is great to abandon standards and adjust downwards the next time. Administrators tend to throw the thermometer out of the window rather than to pay the physician. Finally, just as we always were unalterably op- posed to all kinds of segregation, by sex, age, color, occupation, or what have you, so we always were weary of quotas. Having lived in countries with one numerus clausus or another, any quota, even it if appears in benevolent form, is an unntaural manipu- lation; it should be clear that any dicision made in favor of something or someone is at the same time automatically a decision against something or some- one . Thus, in every quota system catastrophic consequential reactions are unavoidable. As one hasidic just man paraphrases our text • for are these not my thoughts to give You what in Your thoughts? Why then are not Your ways as my ways?

Corner

ISAIAH 55:8

• JOSEPH H . BUNZEL

The Talmud speaks of thirty-six just men who welcome the presence of God every day; in later legends they are described as lowly and humble men, peasants and cobblers, carpenters and artisans; they live unrecognized among the people and con- stitute the true foundation of the world. It is told: One of these just men came to Sodom, determined to save its inhabitants from sin and punishment. He walked the streets days and nights, preaching and shouting against greed and sin, against falsehood and indifference. At first people smiled ironically, then they went their sinful ways without care. One day a compassionate child asked the man: you shout and give of yourself unstinting- ly, yet no one responds; do you not see, that it is hopeless? Yes my child, I see, said the man . Why do you go on then? Because, you see, in the beginning I thought I could change men by shouting and preaching; when I shout today it is to prevent man from changing me. (Paraphrased from Hasidic Tales, retold in E. Silberman's Book review of Elie Wiesel's Souls on Fire, New York Times March 5, 1972) . Such is the position of all true believers from the Berrigam and the Angela Davises to teachers who wish to keep up what they conceive to be i;tan- dards, artists who can not change from what they ,:, feel is true art. The just man, even after giving up to change s9ciety and the others, continues the cry, in order not to change, not to have to change, him- r self. r Sometimes this holy wrath can be taken for un- r ea so nable stubbornness, and sometimes it un- doubtedly is; sometimes it is considered outright psychotic by the standards of that Sodom. But the • actor looks at his act as pure, even if the audience may at times consider it dangerous, ugly, wrong or • consummately boring. The True, the Just and the Beautiful are always their own measure, they form • their own, eternally repetitive waves of tension and solution.

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STRAIT 23 MARCH 1972

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