"The question is not,––how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education––but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?" (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 3, pgs. 170-171)
Everywhere we look today we see people wandering aimlessly, seeing nothing, caring about nothing except where the next thrill or "thing" will come from. Life is simply about moving on to the next event on the calendar. Relationships are confined to digital screens. Minds are simply dumping grounds for meaningless, random facts. This is exactly the opposite of what Charlotte Mason was expressing in the quote above. It is the exact opposite of the abundant life Christ spoke of.
How can we raise a new generation of caring people? We must demonstrate caring in our own lives first and foremost. Do we see the needy around us? Do we look at the changing seasons with awe for the Creator? And, of course, the books we read should cultivate caring in our children. When we give them nothing but dry, dull, bland, factoid-laden books and call it education, it's no wonder they leave school without purpose.
I thought it would be helpful to show some examples of living, caring books...and those that are not.
Here is an excerpt from Streams of Civilization, Vol. 2, a Christian textbook, about the German invasion of Holland and other countries during WWII.
"On May 10, the Nazis unleashed the awesome power of their blitzkrieg on Holland, Belgium, and France. Nothing could stand agaist the German bombers and armored panzer divisions. A devastating air attack leveled Rotterdam, and the tank divisions raced across the flat countryside. Within five days, Holland surrendered." (pg. 280)
Now from The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum...
"The stars were fading and a milky light oozed over the landscape. Mists rose from the fields to meet it, and for a while Dirk Jan walked in a kind of veil. This was rent and scattered by the first rays of the sun, which burst across the horizon in all the glare and pomp of royalty, a royalty even the Nazis could not banish. Its light spilled over and flooded the shivering landscape with gold, echoing in glittering windows or gleaming patches of ice. Now people came creeping out of hiding places, out of barns and haylofts or the homes of kind farmers where they had found a night's shelter. These were foragers, inhabitants of hungry cities where food could not be had even on the inadequate ration coupons, where light and fuel had been cut off and people had to live on watery soup distributed from central kitchens. The most able-bodied members of the families (mostly female, on account of the manhunt) ventured forth in the cold, to find something to eat. It was because of this heroic activity that many Dutch people managed to survive.
Dirk Jan had heard about these trips, but he had never witnessed any. The sight shocked him deeply. He seemed to be in the company of an army of tattered beggars who had offered their clothes for barter. A few lucky ones had rusty bikes without tires. Few had decent shoes. Many had shoes that did not match, or clogs that were split and nailed together again... Hunger, and love for those at home, drove them on." (pg. 126-127, 128)
How much do the youth know?
How much do they care?
In Wild Africa: Giraffes by Melissa Cole we read, among the stunning full-color photographs,
"Giraffes are the tallest of all land animals. Male giraffes, called bulls, are usually larger than female giraffes, called cows. Adult males can weigh up to 3,000 pounds (1,360.8 kg). They usually stand between 15 and 17 (4.6-5.2 m) feet tall. The biggest bull ever measured was 19 feet high (5.8 m)! Female giraffes usually stand about 14 feet tall (4.3 m). They can weigh as much as 2,500 pounds (1,134 kg). (pg. 6)
In 1971, Gladys Conklin wrote Giraffe Lives in Africa. We read...
"The African sun was hot.
It beat down on the great open plain, turning the yellow grass to gold. Wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes were scattered across the plain the vast numbers. In the cloudless sky overhead. black vultures circled endlessly, hunting for dead animals.
In the foreground a small herd of giraffes moved in single file across the dusty plain. Their feet were hidden in a cloud of powdery dust.
At the end of the line trotted Giraffe, a young calf about a week old. She was steady on her legs and feeling frisky. She was able to keep up with the group, but her growing curiosity often led her aside. This new world was fresh and exciting." (pg. 10-11)
By the end of these books, how much will they know? How much will they care? How full will his their lives be?