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The Training of the Human Plant


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FRONT
INTRODUCTION
DEDICATION
TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
CHAPTER II
CHAPTER III
CHAPTER IV
CHAPTER V
CHAPTER VI
CHAPTER VII
CHAPTER VIII
CHAPTER IX
CHAPTER X
CHAPTER XI
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INTRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I
CHAPTER II
CHAPTER III
CHAPTER IV
CHAPTER V
CHAPTER VI
CHAPTER VII
CHAPTER VIII
CHAPTER IX
CHAPTER X
CHAPTER XI

 

   
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VII
HEREDITY-PREDESTINATION-TRAINING

There is no such thing in the world, there never has been such a thing, as a predestined child-that is predestined for heaven or hell. Men have taught such things in the past, there may be now those who account for certain manifestations on this belief, just as there may be those who in the presence of some hopelessly vicious man hold to the view, whether they express it or not, of total depravity. But even total depravity never existed in a human being, never can exist in one any more than it can exist in a plant. Heredity means much, but what is heredity? Not some hideous ancestral specter forever crossing the path of a human being. Heredity is simply the sum of all the effects of all the environments of all past generations on the responsive, ever-moving life forces. There is no doubt that if a child with a vicious temper be placed in an environment of peace and quiet the temper will change. Put a boy born of gentle white parents among Indians and he will grow up like an Indian. Let the child born of criminal parents have a setting of morality, integrity, and love, and the chances are that he will not grow into a criminal, but into an upright man. I do not say, of course, that heredity will not sometimes assert itself. When the criminal instinct crops out in a person, it might appear as if environment were leveled to the ground; but in succeeding generations the effect of constant higher environment will not fail to become fixed.

Apply to the descendants of these twelve families throughout three hundred years the principles I have set forth, and the reformation and regeneration of the world, their particular world, will have been effected. Apply these principles now, to-day, not waiting for the end of these three hundred years, not waiting, indeed, for any millennium to come, but make the millennium, and see what splendid results will follow. Not the ample results of the larger period, to be sure, for with the human life, as with the plant life, it requires these several generations to fix new characteristics or to intensify old ones. But narrow it still more, apply these principles to a single family,-indeed, still closer, to a single child, your child it may be,-and see what the results will be.

But remember that just as there must be in plant cultivation great patience, unswerving devotion to the truth, the highest motive, absolute honesty, unchanging love, so must it be in -the cultivation of a child. If it be worth while to spend ten years upon the ennoblement of a plant, be it fruit, tree, or flower, is it not worth while to spend ten years upon a child in this precious formative period, fitting it for the place it is to occupy in the world? Is not a child's life vastly more precious than the life of a plant? Under the old order of things plants kept on in their course largely uninfluenced in any new direction. The plant-breeder changes their lives to make them better than they ever were before. Here in America, in the midst of this vast crossing of species, we have an unparalleled opportunity to work upon these sensitive human natures. We may surround them with right influences. We may steady them in right ways of living. We may bring to bear upon them, just as we do upon plants, the influence of light and air, of sunshine and abundant, well-balanced food. We may give them music and laughter. We may teach them as we teach the plants to be sturdy and self-reliant. We may be honest with them, as we are obliged to be honest with plants. We may break up this cruel educational articulation which connects the child in the kindergarten with the graduate of the university while there goes on from year to year an uninterrupted system of cramming, an uninterrupted mental strain upon the child, until the integrity of its nervous system may be destroyed and its life impaired.

I may only refer to that mysterious prenatal period, and say that even here we should begin our work, throwing around the, mothers of the race every possible loving, helpful, and ennobling influence; for in the doubly sacred time before the birth of a child lies, far more than we can possibly know, the hope of the future of this ideal race which is coming upon this earth if we and our descendants will it so to be.

Man has by no means reached the ultimate. The fittest has not yet arrived. In the process of elimination the weaker must fail, but the battle has changed its base from brute force to mental integrity. We now have what are popularly known as five senses, but there are men of strong minds whose reasoning has rarely been at fault and who are coldly scientific in their methods, who attest to the possibility of yet developing a sixth sense. Who is he who can say man will not develop new senses as evolution advances? Psychology is now studied in most of the higher institutions of learning throughout the country, and that study will lead to a greater knowledge of these subjects. The man of the future ages will prove a somewhat different order of being from that of the present. He may look upon us as we today look upon our ancestors.

Statistics show many things to make us pause, but, after all, the only right and proper point of view is that of the optimist. The time will come when insanity will be reduced, suicides and murders will be greatly diminished, and man will become a being of fewer mental troubles and bodily ills. Whenever you have a nation in which there is no variation, there is comparatively little insanity or crime, or exalted morality or genius. Here in America, where the variation is greatest, statistics show a greater percentage of all these variations.

As time goes on in its endless and ceaseless course, environment must crystallize the American nation; its varying elements will become unified, and the weeding-out process will, by the means indicated in this paper, by selection and environmental influences, leave the finest human product ever known. The transcendent qualities which are placed in plants will have their analogies in the noble composite, the American of the future.

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Footnotes

 



chapter 7

chapter 7

chapter 7

chapter 7

chapter 7

chapter 7

chapter 7

chapter 7

 

Luther Burbank

 

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...Break up this cruel educational articulation which connects the child in the kindergarten with the graduate of the university while there goes on from year to year an uninterrupted system of cramming, an uninterrupted mental strain upon the child, until the integrity of its nervous system may be destroyed and its life impaired.   more...
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