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The Place Of Expression In Development








Nor are we to think that cultivation of expression results in better
power of expression alone, or that lack of cultivation results only in
decreased power of expression.

INTELLECTUAL VALUE OF EXPRESSION.--There is a distinct mental value in
expression. An idea always assumes new clearness and wider relations
when it is expressed. Michael Angelo, making his plans for the great
cathedral, found his first concept of the structure expanding and
growing more beautiful as he developed his plans. The sculptor,
beginning to model the statue after the image which he has in his mind,
finds the image growing and becoming more expressive and beautiful as
the clay is molded and formed. The writer finds the scope and worth of
his book growing as he proceeds with the writing. The student, beginning
doubtfully on his construction in geometry, finds the truth growing
clearer as he proceeds. The child with a dim and hazy notion of the
meaning of the story in history or literature discovers that the meaning
grows clear as he himself works out its expression in speech, in the
handicrafts, or in dramatic representation.

So we may apply the test to any realm of thought whatever, and the law
holds good: It is not in its apprehension, but in its expression, that
a truth finally becomes assimilated to our body of usable knowledge.
And this means that in all training of the body through its motor
expression we are to remember that the mind must be behind the act; that
the intellect must guide the hand; that the object is not to make
skillful fingers alone, but to develop clear and intelligent thought as
well.

MORAL VALUE OF EXPRESSION.--Expression also has a distinct moral value.
There are many more people of good intentions than of moral character in
the world. The rugged proverb tells us that the road to hell is paved
with good intentions. And how easy it is to form good resolutions. Who
of us has not, after some moral struggle, said, I will break the bonds
of this habit: I will enter upon that heroic line of action! and then,
satisfied for the time with having made the resolution, continued in the
old path, until we were surprised later to find that we had never got
beyond the resolution.

It is not in the moment of the resolve but in the moment when the
resolve is carried out in action that the moral value inheres. To take a
stand on a question of right and wrong means more than to show one's
allegiance to the right--it clears one's own moral vision and gives him
command of himself. Expression is, finally, the only true test for our
morality. Lacking moral expression, we may stand in the class of those
who are merely good, but we can never enter the class of those who are
good for something. One cannot but wonder what would happen if all the
people in the world who are morally right should give expression to
their moral sentiments, not in words alone, but in deeds. Surely the
millennium would speedily come, not only among the nations, but in the
lives of men.

RELIGIOUS VALUE OF EXPRESSION.--True religious experience demands
expression. The older conception of a religious life was to escape from
the world and live a life of communion and contemplation in some
secluded spot, ignoring the world thirsting without. Later religious
teaching, however, recognized the fact that religion cannot consist in
drinking in blessings alone, no matter how ecstatic the feeling which
may accompany the process; that it is not the receiving, but this along
with the giving that enriches the life. To give the cup of cold water,
to visit the widow and the fatherless, to comfort and help the needy and
forlorn--this is not only scriptural but it is psychological. Only as
religious feeling goes out into religious expression, can we have a
normal religious experience.

SOCIAL VALUE OF EXPRESSION.--The criterion of an education once was, how
much does he know? The world did not expect an educated man to do
anything; he was to be put on a pedestal and admired from a distance.
But this criterion is now obsolete. Society cares little how much we
know if it does not enable us to do. People no longer admire mere
knowledge, but insist that the man of education shall put his shoulder
to the wheel and lend a hand wherever help is needed. Education is no
longer to set men apart from their fellows, but to make them more
efficient comrades and helpers in the world's work. Not the man who
knows chemistry and botany, but he who can use this knowledge to make
two blades of grass grow where but one grew before, is the true
benefactor of his race. In short, the world demands services returned
for opportunities afforded; it expects social expression to result from
education.

And this is also best for the individual, for only through social
service can we attain to a full realization of the social values in our
environment. Only thus can we enter fully into the social heritage of
the ages which we receive from books and institutions; only thus can we
come into the truest and best relations with humanity in a common
brotherhood; only thus can we live the broader and more significant
life, and come to realize the largest possible social self.





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Previous: Inter-relation Of Impression And Expression



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