Colorado Academy - Telesis Yearbook (Denver, CO)

 - Class of 1969

Page 9 of 144


Colorado Academy - Telesis Yearbook (Denver, CO) online yearbook collection, 1969 Edition, Page 9 of 144
Page 9 of 144

Colorado Academy - Telesis Yearbook (Denver, CO) online yearbook collection, 1969 Edition, Page 8
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Page 9 text:

lead them to discover for themselves the nature of beauty, truth, and goodness. Yet those in power thought that effort subversive. And in a sense, of course, they were right, it was. Truth can be the most subversive element in a society, at least in a society that is not essentially true. For people whose characteristic and essential nature is not imbued with a love for truth, truth speakers are at best em- barrassing and at worst subversive. What a dreadful thing to point out to young men who are about to commence their journey to 1989! But if what I say is factual tthough not pleasingi, then what is one to do out there in a world dominated by a realpolitik habit of mind? loin it if he can't beat it? That is one way - Pilate's, Stalin's, the used car salesman's. But I can't buy it. My God, I can't stom- ach it! And so this is my answer, and to avoid the charge of banality I shall quote from Sophocles: "Truth is always best," regardless of the surface real- ities ofa given context. My word to you departing Seniors, and, indeed, my word to anyone, and my word to myself as I too depart Colorado Academy, is that in spite of the pain and sorrow that adherence to truth and integrity brings with it, still that is better than anything else. The spirit of the law of truth quickensg the lying let- ter kills, and, surely, a live life is superior to a death- ly one. And in the long run it is a happier one. Na- thaniel Hawthorne, speaking of false, wretched Ar- thur Dimmesdale, writes: "Among the many morals which press upon us from the poor minister's expe- rience, we put only this into a sentence - 'Be true! Be true! Be true!' " A psychological truth is a moral truth too. Manifestly, then, there is a sacred quality to truth, which is why there is a satanic quality to lies. Mel- ville's Father Mapple sums up what God's bidding to man is: "To preach the Truth to the face of False- hood!"Each time I consider these thoughts, I am inevitably drawn to Father Mapple's Sermon: Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has brewed them into a gale! Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appal! Woe to him who, in this world, courts not dishonor! Woe to him who would not be true, even though to be false were salvation! A strong injunction? A hard morality? Yes. It takes a big man to live up to the truth. Listen to Father Mapple again: "And if we obey C-od, we must diso- bey ourselves, and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists." Accretive selfishness is simple, altruistic love is hard. Obeying God's bidding lto live always according to the truth! is not only hard, it is dangerous. The world expects men to lie, to equivocate, to temporize. It doesn't want people to be truthful. That's why Soc- rates was executed and Christ crucified. Well, if such happened to them, then how can we expect better treatment? We can't. Don't expect it, because we probably won't receive it. Truth may be always best, but it's almost never smoothest. Though living a true life may make a man free, it guarantees no freedom from pain or sorrow. Quite the contra- ry. That's why we find it so much easier to lie, both to ourselves and to others. It has always been easier to slide down the greasy chute to hell than to climb the steep and thorny path to heaven. But isn't a man really happier being a Christ than a Pilate? Look, then, Seniors, at this book in your hands, the history of your stay in this school. See the truth and falsehood here, consider them both and make up your mind which course you wish to follow. judge for yourselves. Evaluate your experiences. Ar- ticulate your criteria. Though the truth can be ap- palling, it won't frighten a well individuated man. Twenty years from now, reread these pages and pro- fess your credo. What have you to lose? The same thing you have to save - your soul. - F. X. Slevin

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- ciently developed. 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 commissar. 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

Page 10 text:

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