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Direct And Indirect Interest








We may have an interest either (1) in the doing of an act, or (2) in the
end sought through the doing. In the first instance we call the interest
immediate or direct; in the second instance, mediate or
indirect.

INTEREST IN THE END VERSUS INTEREST IN THE ACTIVITY.--If we do not find
an interest in the doing of our work, or if it has become positively
disagreeable so that we loathe its performance, then there must be some
ultimate end for which the task is being performed, and in which there
is a strong interest, else the whole process will be the veriest
drudgery. If the end is sufficiently interesting it may serve to throw a
halo of interest over the whole process connected with it. The following
instance illustrates this fact:

A twelve-year-old boy was told by his father that if he would make the
body of an automobile at his bench in the manual training school, the
father would purchase the running gear for it and give the machine to
the boy. In order to secure the coveted prize, the boy had to master the
arithmetic necessary for making the calculations, and the drawing
necessary for making the plans to scale before the teacher in manual
training would allow him to take up the work of construction. The boy
had always lacked interest in both arithmetic and drawing, and
consequently was dull in them. Under the new incentive, however, he took
hold of them with such avidity that he soon surpassed all the remainder
of the class, and was able to make his calculations and drawings within
a term. He secured his automobile a few months later, and still retained
his interest in arithmetic and drawing.

INDIRECT INTEREST AS A MOTIVE.--Interest of the indirect type, which
does not attach to the process, but comes from some more or less
distant end, most of us find much less potent than interest which is
immediate. This is especially true unless the end be one of intense
desire and not too distant. The assurance to a boy that he must get his
lessons well because he will need to be an educated man ten years hence
when he goes into business for himself does not compensate for the lack
of interest in the lessons of today.

Yet it is necessary in the economy of life that both children and adults
should learn to work under the incitement of indirect interests. Much of
the work we do is for an end which is more desirable than the work
itself. It will always be necessary to sacrifice present pleasure for
future good. Ability to work cheerfully for a somewhat distant end saves
much of our work from becoming drudgery. If interest is removed from
both the process and the end, no inducement is left to work except
compulsion; and this, if continued, results in the lowest type of
effort. It puts a man on a level with the beast of burden, which
constantly shirks its work.

INDIRECT INTEREST ALONE INSUFFICIENT.--Interest coming from an end
instead of inhering in the process may finally lead to an interest in
the work itself; but if it does not, the worker is in danger of being
left a drudge at last. To be more than a slave to his work one must
ultimately find the work worth doing for its own sake. The man who
performs his work solely because he has a wife and babies at home will
never be an artist in his trade or profession; the student who masters a
subject only because he must know it for an examination is not
developing the traits of a scholar. The question of interest in the
process makes the difference between the one who works because he loves
to work and the one who toils because he must--it makes the difference
between the artist and the drudge. The drudge does only what he must
when he works, the artist all he can. The drudge longs for the end of
labor, the artist for it to begin. The drudge studies how he may escape
his labor, the artist how he may better his and ennoble it.

To labor when there is joy in the work is elevating, to labor under the
lash of compulsion is degrading. It matters not so much what a man's
occupation as how it is performed. A coachman driving his team down the
crowded street better than anyone else could do it, and glorying in that
fact, may be a true artist in his occupation, and be ennobled through
his work. A statesman molding the affairs of a nation as no one else
could do it, or a scholar leading the thought of his generation is
subject to the same law; in order to give the best grade of service of
which he is capable, man must find a joy in the performance of the work
as well as in the end sought through its performance. No matter how high
the position or how refined the work, the worker becomes a slave to his
labor unless interest in its performance saves him.





Next: Transitoriness Of Certain Interests

Previous: The Nature Of Interest



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