There are no vicious horses, just spoiled ones. Likewise, there are no evil people, just damaged ones. In many if not most cases, the injuries can be repaired and the gaps can be filled through a steady diet of empathetic attention and thoughtful intervention.
The ideal, of course, is to create a world wherein as little damage is done in the maturing process. Until that happens, however, there is the need for those who are eager to accept the responsibility of serving others. Willingness, of course, rarely guarantees capability, so there is the need for training.
How do you get this type of training nowadays? Families, schools, civic and religious organizations take various approaches, but the division of this particular labor, which has splintered a formerly cohesive system of training and preparation, makes it difficult to translate the compulsion to service into a practical vision for living.
As I mentioned yesterday, the Greek aristocrats had unifying or overarching societal goals like the notion of arete and as we touched on months ago, the Italian nobles sought to achieve sprezzatura in all areas of living. These notions of a holistic pattern of excellence compelled a constant refinement of physical capability, mental acuity and self-control and served as the flag around which those responsible for educating the youth in their respective eras rallied.
To what end do we educated our children in our era? Teacher and school effectiveness is largely measured by test scores, but what do they really tell you about the quality of education the children are receiving? Very little in my estimation. Surely we can do better.
6 thoughts on “Training for Service”
Sometimes it seems we live in a world where we have lost the desire for substance, where superficiality is broadcast at us 24/7. Yet there are people who care to lead a life of substance still. Not all have accepted the glib sarcastic bent of the modern world. But the real man or women is also not the puritanical zealot that pop culture would have you believe. There is a real depth available to all of us that doesn’t require puritanical judgement to remain relevant. While arête and sprezzatura are both admirable, they are merely different approaches to the same life spring that we must all drink from if we are to live a truly purposeful life.
Your post makes me think how I can provide training for service for those in my world young or old. Your words regarding empathetic attention and thoughtful intervention I can see as a vital part in the training I provide.
Understanding righteousness as a practical option for living would give the foundation to learn and mature. For most it’s seen as idealistic, religious, being good and ultimately leaving you vulnerable and on the losing end of a world where the end has justified the means. Living righteously has not been an option as it is barely comprehended. Thanks Gregg for opening this line of thought. What are we educating our children for but to live well.
Agreed!! It is increasingly obvious our need for a wider focus regarding the education of our children. Intelligence without strength of character equals discord and degradation of the world around us. Can we change the tides? Thank you for offering the starting point of conscious thought regarding these things!
“A holistic pattern of excellence” – I love that! It should be the motivating aspiration for every school teacher. Great post!