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to the altar and there secure the sanction of law to spread it, might run a course of debauchery leading to poverty, the ruin of his family life, and the public support of his dependents. The problem of health to the public mind was the problem of bad health.
Our new philosophy has shifted the burden of proof. We are becoming concerned with the problem of good health. The public good is becoming the center of anxiety. Church and science will agree that in spite of the teachings of cult and dogma; in spite of the tenets of ethical philosophy, flowering in the beauty of poetry and song; in spite of our inborn belief in the immortality of the soul-in spite of all these mental attitudes of ours, the moral stamina of a nation remains a reflex of her physical condition. Sound health in any people is essential to intellectual attainment and to the advancement of morals.
From this basis it is easy to reason that that community which is shot through with syphilis and gonorrhea, which is shorn of a high percentage of its working energy by tuberculosis; which has not one perfect set of teeth in a thousand; which musters barely 60 per cent of passable physiques in a war levy of her finest manhood—such a nation, except resuscitating and preventive measures be soon set up, is like to become morally rotten and in the end Godless-likely to crumble as a power in civilization.
Wherefore we are departing from our old-time negative enforcement of the police power in matters of health and are heeding social necessity by requiring the individual to guard his good health as a guaranty that he may function the better as a citizen and may ward off the danger of hurting his neighbor.
Mental defectives.—Our vision of social solidarity has brought a new fundamental into our treatment of the insane and the mentally defective. Do you recall that screeching, foul and unclad wretch in Hugo's Notre Dame, chained in a stone cage at the edge of the way where the public might cross themselves and toss her a crust? Do you recall that indelible scar branded by the demon of superstition and ignorance upon the conscience of New England--that tragedy to which we give the name of Salem witchcraft? Perhaps too you may remember the stirring memorial of Dorothea Dix against the inhuman shackling of the insane as late as 1845 in Massachusetts.
In the interval between that day and this has grown up a science of psychology. A person demented was in that older time a person possessed of a devil-a wretch accursed. Today he is a person mentally sick, deserving of kindly care and scientific treatment, capable sometimes of cure. In those primitive times the law held but two views of mentality-either a person was furiously mad so that he was non compos mentis, incapable of reason, or he was of full mental capacity, responsible as a citizen and liable for his conduct as fully as any other person whatsoever. A state called feeblemindedness was unknown to the law.
Today we recognize degrees of mentality and a condition of mental deficiency or feebleness of mind is given at least tacit recognition in our statutes. This is the new fundamental in the treatment of the insane.
Law breakers.-Akin to this response to the reasoning of science is a great development in our treatment of law breakers. Our idea of justice, which is the essential element in whatever in the way of a social contract may be thought to exist, has undergone a change from a condition of punishments and rewards according to act, to a more enlightened state of punishment and reward according to desert. Now comes Social Work and says that desert is not wholly a question of intent-of the will to do;
but that on the contrary it contains an element of the power to carry responsibility upon which capacity the will can be presupposed; that one's just deserts rest therefore upon the mental equipment with which one faces the responsibilities of citizenship as well as upon the mere will content of the mind at the time of trespass.
So, therefore, in our generation, justice passes into its third major phase, namely that of punishment and reward according to capacity. For the convict this new phase means that he is emerging from that stone age of prison custody which is passing like the remnant of a geologic ice-time and is stepping out into the sunlight and the green pastures of humane treatment according to his condition rather than his conduct.
This new fundamental means within a few years an abandonment of our timehonored practice of committing convicts to a particular set of stone walls, there to be kept for an arbitrary time, and in its stead the commitment of persons found guilty to the custody of government, an administrative arm of the sovereign disposing of them within the limits of their sentence for custody and treatment according to scientific classification based upon mental and physical capacity. It means a clearing-house system in commitments.
Public agencies in social welfare.—If we keep our social dawning in mind it becomes easy to see the meaning of recent expansion in our public welfare work-in our public service, that unhurried precinct of little men, destined in the future evolution of popular government, let us hope, to become an honored trust, where statesmanship shall ever dwell.
How dear to our hearts is our backyard habit of criticizing our public service; and how fully jusitfied, seeing that the service is a direct reflex of our own dictates as citizens! Your average public servant is an indifferent little fellow. He breaks into print and out of it again, just as we superiors do. He rages; he preaches; he stampshis reactions are like our own-but above all he is a little fellow. To scratch him on the surface is to stir him to the depths, he is so very shallow.
We rave at him—we deplore his mediocrity-we tell ourselves what we must do to elevate our civil service and dignify public office; after which we do nothing. So chronic is our ineffectiveness as a public that one may now safely define a political reform as a wish for good, lasting one term.
But do you note that something important is happening in this same weed patch of the public service-happening apparently without our conscious help, and in spite of our denials of efficiency? Denial is sometimes a stimulant. You will recall that some of the best advertising the prince of darkness ever received came in that hour when he was accompanied to a high place and denied. The public welfare departments are the seat of a great seismic disturbance. There is hardly a state jurisdiction in which an awakening has not taken place. The auditing of doles is giving way to department conferences upon the adequacy of relief. Private agencies are being called in and their co-operation sought. Requests for appropriations for purposes of research are common. Governors and lesser political lights are taking personal interest in service which touches the family hearthstone so closely—and the extension of the franchise to women does not explain this virtue altogether. In some states our departments of public welfare are taking the leadership in the constructive social service of the community. Everywhere the new effort is producing men and women of power and devotion to their service. In this Conference-in this gathering—are many of the finest of our profession; and they are public social workers.
Call to mind that basic change in our philosophy of citizenship and the reason for this renaissance becomes clear. Social necessity forces the community as an organized body to take positive action to protect the common good. Wherefore our departments of public welfare are destined to a future of leadership enviable in the profession of social work. All honor to a public service that is worthy in spite of our neglect.
Industrial justice. But if these changing concepts reveal social progress, what shall we say of that gathering storm which we call the cry for justice in industry? What problem comes closer to the family hearthstone than that of the right to work and to earn a living wage? Is a new day dawning for the laboring man?
In days gone by we have said that industrial justice was a problem for capital on the one hand and labor on the other; that they might fight it out and to the victor would belong the spoils. Our courts, recognizing the tremendous power of capital through machinery to control the working people, have gone to an extreme of expediency in placing in the hands of labor the strike, a weapon which as now practiced amounts to a conspiracy.
Today we see that this battle between capital and labor is like the campaign in Belgium-it bears hard upon the place of combat. Leaders on both sides of the issue see the fallacy in our former view, and now recognize four elements in the question, namely, capital, labor, business management, and the public; greatest of which is the public. We see capital still fighting to keep labor down to a basis of contract as though social values were not involved, yielding ever so little to the urgings of social service on living and working conditions; we see organized labor through the strike in grave danger of becoming a tyranny; we see business management hindered and production interrupted by endless bickerings and shut downs; and we see the public paying through the nose.
And seeing these things we see all too plainly that the American laborer, bound by the iron bands of modern unit machinery is a slave to a few motions on a single machine. From them comes his hope of bread for his little ones. Through them must come his emancipation into manhood. Not capital, but the economic trend of the world makes him a slave in industry. And seeing him thus, we say of him as we said of the slave of 1850, that the world may call him a chattel, but we know that he has a soul. Possessing that precious secret we can reason that justice will not obtain until industry recognizes his spiritual value. It cannot feel of his muscle, chuck up his chin, count his teeth and say, "Yes, this is fit; I'll use it." He is worth more to industry than his power to shift levers and bend his body. His loyalty counts. His intelligence counts, his residue of strength and courage at the end of the day's labor counts. He is a living, quivering, sentient being, with a God-given right to the opportunity to grow and to rear his young. Nor is the recognition of his human value a denial of the truth that his compensation must be based upon the value of his industrial effort. The new fundamental in this phase of social work is that we recognize as never before the social necessities in the industrial riddle. Legal contract does not explain industry: social necessity does. Let another fifty years go by and we are likely to see our courts over-ruling their blanket approval of the strike, because it operates as a conspiracy; and placing in its stead such a philosophy of industrial conduct as shall protect the public and the working man without denying capital its just encouragement. The correctness of the reasoning is not denied by the fact that we are still far from its accomplishment.
These then are basic changes in the philosophy of social work.
If now, by a figure of speech, we might stand upon a high place and look out across the vast plain of human habitation; seething with industry; gay with pleasure; bowed with the sorrows of tragedy; groping its way onward and upward, seeing with dim vision a future of greater attainment; struggling like a Titan against itself; yet always and forever a society, interdependent, in which no individual can be a law unto himself, and none can lead except he serve—in this ferment of mankind, with its scum at the top and its dregs at the bottom, we see clearly the necessity for a constant and continuous service of large heart and skilful hand; grounded in scientific analysis of human relations; dedicated to the betterment of the race.
Let us feel a little proud that we have a share in this service. For in that day when the enmities between men, and nations of men, shall be softened and humanity shall have gone forward toward a brotherhood of man, those who come after us may look backward and say of the social service of this decade that it helped to found a better order.
Let us pause at the tasks of today, then, and renew our faith. Let us look eastward to the rising sun.
THE FAMILY AS A FACTOR IN SOCIAL EVOLUTION
Arthur J. Todd, Labor Manager, B. Kuppenheimer & Company, Chicago
It is significant that this conference should open its sessions this year with a discussion of the family. While the National Conference of Social Work is not simply a conference on social work with families, nevertheless, every one of its seven sections is inevitably colored by some sort of reference to the family problem. This is true no matter whether you think of community organization, delinquency, or children, or health, or industrial problems. For while the family is not the social institution, while it is not the stuff out of which every other social institution is composed or has been made, at the same time it is basic if for no other reason than that the family in whatever degree it exists is the portal by which we all enter human life and human society. Moreover, many of our most serious social problems arise from ignorance or wilful overlooking of the true history, functions, and limitations of family life. Likewise, many of our failures in the treatment of, say, juvenile delinquency, feeblemindedness, or industrial friction, derive from failure to consider the family as a whole in relation to the individual as a special problem.
It is therefore proper, even though risky, to introduce at such a meeting as this so ponderous a problem as the contribution of the family to social evolution. But before plunging into that difficult subject two or three general observations are in order.
First, the family is no longer the social unit par excellence. As a matter of fact, there never was a time in which the family was the exclusive social unit. There were times, however, when it was predominant, as under the patriarchal system where the patriarch was not only father but priest, economic head, and political chief all in one. But recently the tendency has been in the direction of the individual as the social unit, particularly in such a pioneer and colonial area as the United States. With the political enfranchisement of women, with the wholesale entrance of women into industry, and with the loss of the old-fashioned neighborhood intimacy and direct social control, this
tendency is not confined to frontier life, but is reaching down through the older, established countries and civilizations as well.
Second, the word "family" does not always mean the same thing as we watch its development through the centuries; that is to say, there is no universal form of the family, but viewing it genetically as a social institution, it has gone through various transformations and as an existing institution it manifests many different forms within the present-day society. We have, for example, here in the United States at the present moment, practically every form in which marriage and the family have evolved, all the way from the simple pair marriage of more or less promiscuous type, through various forms of plural marriage to genuine, ethical monogamy. On the other hand, the concept of the "normal family" is very variable and vague. It is accepted that in a certain sense the normal is the familiar. Thus the normal family is simply the average family group which reflects the prevailing form of social organization, the predominant type of social interest and control. We shall start out therefore with a more or less dogmatic definition of the normal family as it exists in most Western countries where civilization has reached its highest, as a fairly permanent, democratic relationship between parents and between them and their natural offspring, the parents being people of approximately equal age, bound by a monogamous marriage inaugurated by solemn ceremonies either civil or religious; the group as a whole possessing separate property inherited in the direct family line.
Third, the family measured by its whole history is to be regarded as the source of neither all the virtues nor of all the evils. On this point human opinion has swung vertiginously from pole to pole. People at one pole see in the family an unimpeachable, divine institution, the chief pillar of public order, religion, morals, and the state, the cradle of every virtue both public and private, the pattern upon which all society both earthly and heavenly is being built. At the opposing pole the people look upon the family as an adamantine barrier across the path to race perfection, higher morality, broader concepts of property, finer sense of civic responsibility and effective political order; in general, an institution which chokes and kills the finest manifestations of pure love and debases it to the grossest physiological and economic ends.
Sentimental literature is full of sugared descriptions of the family as the focus of all the virtues. There is no doubt but what a veil of romantic respectability was thrown about the family particularly during the eighteenth century. One end of that veil seems to have survived at least through the Victorian age and thick enough to stir up the literary indignation of men like Strindberg, Ibsen, and Bernard Shaw. It provoked, also, scientific research into the history and origin of the family, work which included not only the biased attempts of the socialistic pioneers like Engels and Bebel, but also men of genuine scientific minds like Robertson Smith, Morgan, Starcke, and Sutherland. These scientific investigations, however much they have magnified the importance of the family, have certainly not come to the definite conclusion reached by a former student of mine who, during an examination, declared that "the family or the home is the most important social institution because it is the place where the most intimate relations have transgressed." Nor would we waste much time in discussing the rôle of the family in the list of social institutions if we were to consider as did another student that anything which fills a need and harms no one is a social institution (like the cup which cheers but not inebriates!?).
In sketching the contributions of family life to social evolution and progress, it is essential to keep in mind that all social institutions are interdependent and no institu