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(caption title) The University Purpose in War Education
Albert M. Coates
[Chapel Hill, N.C.]
[Dialectic and Philanthropic Literary Societies of the University of North Carolina].
Call number C378 UQm v.48 no.3 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Appears in University of North Carolina Magazine (1902). Vol. 48, no. 3 (Dec. 1917)
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[Title Page Image]
ALBERT M. COATES
A story is told of a young man who would sit for hours on a great rock cliff within a stone's throw of his home, and dream of the future when he would go afar off to seek for gold. He went. A few years later an engineer came to this spot; and in the rock where another had dreamed dreams of treasure in a far away land, he found the vein of gold. It is this universal tendency to look for true greatness and real worth in another time, and in another place, which deadens us to the people about us and the times in which we live, forgetful that great deeds have been performed and great literatures have sprung forth only when a man or a people has become conscious of itself.
This is a time when there are "events, actions, which must be sung, which will sing themselves." But first we must understand the time in all its significance. We must become acutely conscious of the part which we must act.
The world is engaged in a great civil war. America is not fighting with merely half a million men on the battlefront. Every industry, every institution, every individual, is dedicated to the cause. The whole people is at war, and in the fight.
The war they wage is no useless, half-necessary struggle. It is fundamental. Autocracy and freedom have clashed. One or the other must die. Autocracy is doomed. We cannot grant it life. It cannot accept. In this world the old idea of slavery and the new idea of freedom cannot live side by side in peace.
But our fight is not an easy one. Righteousness alone will not win our battle. The struggle in which we are engaged is worthy of the great principle for which we
fight. The immensity of our task calls for the finest and deepest in us. To undertake it in a half-hearted way is to lose at the beginning. The time admits of no compromise of support; the task admits of no compromise of effort. This is the time when "he who is not for me is against me."
Just as the military force is not the sole force which fights, so it cannot win the victory alone. This is the privilege and the duty, not of Roosevelt alone, not of the soldier in the trench, but of every living American.
It has been stated, and rightly, perhaps, that our intellectual leaders led the country to enter the war. This is in part borne out by the slight sentiment of resistance to the draft measure which cropped out and by slothfulness in economizing and conserving to a necessary extent. And this reveals clearly a definite educational need. It is imperative that some scheme of universal education concerning the war be promoted. It is all the more necessary, not because of the magnitude of the struggle we are making, but because of the circumstances under which we fight,--where the civilian populace does not see the grim facts of the conflict, where there is no immediate danger of ruin and devastation to arouse the nation.
This is the supreme challenge to education and to educational institutions. It comes from the people in their need. Because the University of North Carolina is so deeply rooted in the people's life who have created and sustained it, so accurately conceived in their service, that her response to their need is only the complete expression of her life, she is bringing all her resources, all the stores of the knowledge and experience of the past to bear upon the supreme problem of the people she serves. It is to to this end that President Graham has inaugurated an extensive scheme of war education service covering the
entire state. It is to this end that the University offers to establish in every community which desires it, extension centers, inspired by the University ideal of service that is effective because it is informed, which will be devoted to an intensive study of "the causes of the war, the practical relation of every American citizen to the war, the immediate necessity of winning the war, American aims and ideals in the war, preparation for material, social, and spiritual reconstruction after the war." It is to this end that Group Lectures, and Single Lectures, treating this subject in a popular way, will be furnished. It is to this end that she offers Correspondence Courses, and Reading Courses, based on the subject matter of the Extension Center courses. It is to this end that she has thrown open her library to the service of the state, and is furnishing books, information as to books, articles on special subjects relating to the war, to all who seek them. It is to this end that the
University News Letter is carrying direct publicity on Why We Are At War, and Why This Is Our War, to fifteen thousand readers weekly. It is to this end that Dr. Greenlaw, head of the department of English, proposes an association, state-wide, and nation-wide, if possible, to be established in every community, composed of high school and grammar school students, parents, and others interested, entitled the Lafayette Association to symbolize the ideals to which Lafayette devoted his life. This idea is based upon the belief that in the meeting of the folk in such times as these there may be revived the folk instinct from which democracy sprang, to arouse in them a community and national consciousness that from the depths of their own life may come the spirit to guide them. In the light of this proposal the community pageants of the last few years in Chapel Hill are instinct with meaning.
America must have that unity of spirit and purpose and action which will result from an understanding of the present struggle in all its significance, which will grow out of a national study of our common heritage of freedom, and which will be far more effective and far more real than that resulting from any fear of German power.
In great crises like this, sham and pretense are swept away. Life is reduced to fundamentals. The national soul is bared. In the light of the present conflict our own struggle takes on a new meaning. It no longer seems a personal possession. It is one step onward in the world's great struggle for freedom.
The struggle to-day is the fundamental clash of free government with its arch foe. We confront a crisis where the achievements of all the ages in political freedom will be either subverted, or secured. Upon this generation depends whether the world shall enter on another period of darkness and suspicion, or into the light and trust of a new day. It is this fact that lifts the carnage of the battlefield above a mere clash of force and skill, which gives a sane clear purpose to the furious passions of war, and lends a sort of glow to the ghastly sacrifice of human life.
It is not enough that our leaders should see this. The whole people must see it. "Ignorance is no excuse" has been the maxim of the past. "Ignorance is sin" is the standard by which our action must be judged. The realization by the whole people that they are the trustees, more than that, the defenders of the sum total of the achievement of the world in the direction of liberty, will lift the national soul to a fruitful height which will burst forth in an expression which should be to our century what the Periclean age, the Augustan age, the Elizabethan age, were to theirs. National waste will cease. Conservation will begin. Economy to the point of sacrifice will govern
every activity of life. Our democracy will be worthy of the sacrifice. Our soldiers at the front, endeavoring to make the world safe for democracy, will be heartened and fired with the spirit of a nation which