Signs of the Times

["Why should Not Goodness Be Taught?" from The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Mass.]

Teaching, as a profession and an art, is an old accomplishment. So, too, is goodness. When, therefore, a certain Harvard professor comes forward advocating the teaching of goodness, on the surface there does not seem to be any valid reason why his proposal should not merit consideration. The professor in question recalls that for centuries physics, chemistry, mechanics, and other subjects have been taught, and that to-day other more intimate subjects are within the curricula of teachers. He urges, therefore, that the next step is to teach goodness.

Commenting upon this proposal, a writer has declared that before teaching goodness the Harvard professor would have to define what goodness is, urging that the earliest philosophers disputed over what was good and what was bad, and whether what was good was good in or for itself. ... This is all very true to a certain extent. And yet why should it be so difficult to define what goodness is? All are agreed that the earliest philosophers were unable to do so, but do they constitute the only criterion to-day? What goodness is, has, as a matter of fact, been revealed to a waiting world, and it is only a matter of time before the ideal so revealed will be accepted by its every inhabitant. About this ideal there is nothing mysterious, and it is found to comply with all the requirements of goodness as laid down in ancient days. Goodness, in a word, is obedience to Principle. Could there be anything simpler than this?—and yet were all the world to glimpse this vision the millennium would be here! And from this standpoint why should not goodness be taught?

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March 17, 1923

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