December 2nd, 2005

HTOC

The Winter and The Social Work-In English

Everything is quieter in the winter. It is as if nature knows that it must stay asleep if it is to survive to see the coming of spring. Life hibernates. Something dies in the winter. The trees, dropping their last leaves-their last vestiges of life-slowly sigh and droop away into the grayness of the season. Bugs and insects disappear. There is hardly a squirrel to be found. Winter is the world’s death bed-it’s final breath.

Somehow we humans attempt to stay alive. Our lights and travels and expenditures do not decrease in winter; they increase.

I am reminded of a quote from a monk of Mount Athos, “Let us not expect the spiritual spring if we first don’t pass through the spiritual winter during which the spiritual vermin die…”

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I think that the below explains how I am beginning to feel about social work or whatever one wants to call it.

On working for the “general good”….

A scene from Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”: Levin, a farm-manager and hardworking man is analyzing his brother, Koznyshev, a philosopher and writer.

“Levin regarded his brother as a man of great intellect and vast knowledge, noble in the highest sense of the word and endowed with the faculty of working for the general good. But in his heart of hearts, the older he grew and the more intimately he knew his brother, the more and more often it occurred to him that this faculty of working for the general good, which he felt he completely lacked, was perhaps not so much a quality as a lack of something, not a lack of kindly, honest, and noble desires and tastes, but a lack of the life force, of what is called heart, the impulse which drives a man to choose one out of all the innumerable paths of life open to him and to desire that one only. The more he got to know his brother, the more he noticed that Koznyshev and many other people who worked for the general good were not led to this love for the general good by their hearts, but because they had reasoned out in their minds that it was a good thing to do that kind of work and did it only because of that. Levin was confirmed in this supposition by noticing that his brother did not take the question of the general good or the immortality of the soul any more to heart than a game of chess or the clever construction of a new machine."