James Governor's Monkchips

Eleanor Roosevelt on Joy and Civic Engagement – so wise

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If the use of leisure time is confined to looking at TV for a few extra hours every day, we will deteriorate as a people.

Actually, preparation for the use of leisure time should begin with our schoolchildren. The appreciation of many things in which we are not proficient ourselves but which we have learned to enjoy is one of the important things to cultivate in modern education. The arts in every field–music, drama, sculpture, painting–we can learn to appreciate and enjoy. We need not be artists, but we should be able to appreciate the work of artists. Crafts of every kind, the value of things made by hand, by skilled people who love to work with wood or clay or stone will develop taste in our people.

These are all things that can give us joy and many of us will find that we are capable of acquiring a certain amount of skill we never dreamed we had, which will give an outlet to a creative urge. But these things must be taught, and in the age now developing about us they are important things. For if man is to be liberated to enjoy more leisure, he must also be prepared to enjoy this leisure fully and creatively.

For people to have more time to read, to take part in their civic obligations, to know more about how their government functions and who their officials are might mean in a democracy a great improvement in the democratic processes. Let’s begin, then, to think how we can prepare old and young for these new opportunities. Let’s not wait until they come upon us suddenly and we have a crisis that we will be ill prepared to meet.

Eleanor Roosevelt, 1958.

Thanks Robert Brook for sharing that. Roosevelt’s words talk to joy. But we must be active, not passive, in order to meet the crises we face. Democracy can not simply be a consumer activity. Its about making a contribution.

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