Individual Training in Our Colleges

By Clarence F. Birdseye | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
THE FAMILY AND THE COMMUNITY LIVES OF OUR COLLEGES

THE child born into the family starts under conditions over which he has no choice and which for many years he cannot intelligently influence or change, or even understand. At first, his life is only that of the family and does not merge into that of the community. His earliest touch of the community life, as distinguished from that of the family, usually comes with his entrance into school, where he is brought into contact with an institution not founded or carried on for him alone, but public and social in its nature. From that time on, he is under two sets of influences, not always clearly defined or sharply separated; namely, those of his family or intimates, which we shall call his family or personal life, and those larger influences which he meets in the community, and which we shall call his community life.

Family and community influences.

In a small village or country town, especially if it be old and socially homogeneous, the distinction between the family and the community life is not very marked. All the inhabitants are in a sense but members of one large family, and more or less closely connected by intermarriage. But in a large cosmopolitan or metropolitan city we readily distinguish between our family life and that which we live as members of the community. We consider the former as sacred to ourselves and the members of our home, and possibly a few intimate friends, while we share the latter with large numbers of other persons. We thus live in two atmospheres, one of which environs us in a larger way, while the other, continuous, enfolding, intimate, osmotic, is that which makes us what we really are. Few share it with us or know much about it. The newspapers tell us about the community life, but that of the family, with its heart to heart touch, should be and usually is sacred. From its influences come the loves, hopes, ambitions,

Nature of these influences.

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