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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 c
ncept 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


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


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.