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Page 7 text:
Page 6 text:
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The 1969 Telesis
is Respectfully Dedicated to Mr. A. 1. Musil
Page 8 text:
To The Seniors
When the Editors of this year's TELESIS asked me
to write an article addressed to the graduating Se-
niors, I was quite honestly honored at their request.
I was also struck by the fact that the request came for
exactly twenty junes after I had ascended the dais in
the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria to re-
ceive my diploma and graduate from high school.
Twenty years is a good length of time at which to
take stock and try to articulate some basic values
before we launch off on another twenty-year trip.
What follows, then, is an intensely personal reaction
to that request, a reaction that may look more like
rumination than anything else, but which is really
one teacher's credo. I want to speak about what I
consider the most important aspect of a man's life:
Truth, that without which everything else he does in
his life possesses what Conrad calls a "taint of death,
the flavour of mortality."
Lip service to the contrary notwithstanding, most
of us do not delight in the truth -it is often too
painful, and too often appalling. "Ye shall know the
truth, and the truth shall make you free," cries St.
john. However, as most of us delight not in the
truth, so most of us dislike freedom, for true free-
dom brings with it responsibility - the burden of
freedom. It is slavery that carries with it an absence
of restraint, it is willing commitment to a cause ex-
ternal to oneself that brings with it freedom. A slave
cannot sin, only a free man can. The person to
whom that fact is a contradiction rather than a para-
dox is a person whose inner life has not been suffi-
If St. john is correct in his assertion that freedom
and truth are concomitants, then humanity is correct
in its assertion that happiness is a consequent of lib-
erty. To paraphrase a famous document, truth, liber-
ty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable
human rights. And if rights, then duties. Or so I hold.
I take it as self-evident that the happiest man is he
who is most at peace with external reality, the man
whose mind conforms itself to life as it really is, viz.,
to truth. The unhappiest man, the most neurotic, is
he who refuses to, or who can't, accept external
reality and who wars with it. Or put it in Christian
terms: the man who can truly pray, "thy will be
done" rather than the more usual "my will be
done," achieves the peace of God, the peace that
surpasses all human understanding. Which is
one of the reasons why such people are so
often misunderstood by the mass of lip-servers.
Herman Melville had precisely that thought in mind
when he wrote, "PQI saw C.od's foot upon the
treadle of the loom, and spoke it, and therefore his
shipmates called him mad. So man's insanity is heav-
en's sense . . . " And vice-versa.
A more orthodox writer, St. Paul, put it another
way: "We must all be fools for Christ." Fools as the
world fmanl counts fools are people who are not hip
enough to swim with the current, or who are not
bright enough not to rock the boat and cause waves.
Christ was a fool, Pilate was a prudent politician who
providentially worried about what Caesar thought
rather than what his own intellect told him: "I find
no cause in this man." Even though a political realist,
Pilate unfortunately lost in the end anyway. But
that's accidental. It is his figure I find fascinating.
After all, it was the Procurator Pilate who asked that
famous question of Christ, "What is truth?" He was a
typical worldly Roman cynic, whose question reveals
the underlying belief that power is truth, rather than
the other way around. Truth is what the current
Ceasar says is truth, and only a fool would fly in the
face of that reality. Christ had no power, He was an
absurd King. I recall Stalin's famous rhetorical ques-
tion when someone asked him how he would get
around the Pope's objections to Russia's doing
something or other at the time: "How many divi-
sions does the Pope have?" barked the cynical
Another context: Socrates was actually put to
death for the nebulous crime of "corrupting the
youth" of Athens, all he actually did was to try to
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