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of nature. Indeed, nature is likely to do so much that there is small chance that we, with all our expertness, can contribute anything unless we are fresh and fit to do our best. But I contend that work done in a hurry is never our best or near it. If our client's situation presents real difficulty, it will surely require of us some originality, else someone else would have solved it before. But originality is a wild bird, never caught in a hurry nor without our best efforts; sometimes not to be caught at all.
In the back of our breathless minds there is a sense that if we do not look after all who ask our aid, nobody and nothing else will. In other words, we think ourselves essential to the salvation of all those who ask the aid which we are trained to give. We ignore the spiritual forces of healing which surround our souls as the material forces of healing envelop our bodies. More concretely, what have I in mind when I speak of these spiritual forces of healing which may accomplish all that we can do even with our best efforts, and are almost sure to excel us when we are in our chronically breathless state? Most of us recognize them vaguely and anonymously when we recall how many evils are cured and problems solved "by time." Of course time is a mere blanket label for a congeries of concrete forces. Time itself does nothing. But under this general heading come all those maturing processes of physical growth, of new experience, new friends, new work, new aspects of old friendships or of old work, new responsibilities, remedial economic changes, which act without consciousness of any individual's need. Even forgetfulness is sometimes a powerful ally, for we forget not only the things which we want to remember, but often our sorrows also, and even our temptations. The water of a running stream is always pure to drink; it purifies itself by running; the impurities fall to the bottom. So I believe that by forgetting we drop out much that is poisonous or tyrannous in our spiritual make-up, and so are helped without any conscious activity, our own or another's,
There are many instances, though not as many as there should be, in which the social worker reaches out to avail herself of a great healing force and brings it to someone's aid as the doctor focuses the energies of sunlight or the physiological activity of an organic extract borrowed without leave from some other animal. The use of foster homes, so long a sound and efficient help in the care of neglected or delinquent children, is parallel to the therapeutic borrowings of the doctor. A social worker cannot of herself make a foster home, any more than a doctor can make sunlight, but both can be found and utilized where before they have lain idle. Thus great beneficent forces hitherto doing less than they might are called to our aid. I rejoice to see that this great spiritual force, the healing and reviving influence of a foster family, is being used more and more for adults mentally or physically ill, and for the aged as well as for children. We surely shall need to discover and mobilize for our aid other great vital forces like this. I believe that much more can be done than has hitherto been attempted in social therapeutics by discovering and paying leaders-I mean natural
leaders of boys, of girls, of men, of nations. I take it that a probation officer is intended to be such a natural leader of young people, though most of us know how woefully far short of this he usually falls.
I have dwelt on the presence of these efficient but often unutilized social forces which, like a wider potential fellowship, encircle the tiny body of social workers who often fancy themselves isolated and unfellowed, because I think a wider recognition of this encircling presence can help us in several ways. First, it can increase our courage. In the long run, and apart from emergencies, work is seldom worth undertaking unless one can believe that a great deal more like it is going forward anyhow, whether we are aware of it or not. If social problems were really as desperate as we often assume them to be, it would be hardly worth while for us to attempt any remedy of our own. But because we are working side by side with forces, conscious and unconscious, which in any case will accomplish vastly more than we can, though they still leave room for our effort, we need never be discouraged.
Moreover, we shall no longer lead such frantic lives of strain and hurry as we are accustomed to when we realize that unless we can give our best we probably shall fail to contribute anything to the remedial forces already immanent in the world around us. Thus armed with a consciousness of a fellowship of unseen but potent allies, we shall be able to assure ourselves and those who ask our help, when we must limit the number of our clients and of our hours of work, that we are by no means the only pebbles on the beach.
But I doubt if this important reform, the limitation of intake, will be achieved unless we can somehow avoid being brought face to face with appeals which it is our duty to refuse. The offices of social agencies must be so arranged that when, at a certain hour or after a certain number of cases taken in hand, it is time for the worker to stop, she will not come face to face with the needs and sorrows of any more applicants. If there is a waiting-room outside the office, the social worker should be able to escape by a back door, so as not to pass any line of applicants whose pleadings she will be unable to withstand. Otherwise the very sympathy which makes her useful as a social worker will now betray her. Moreover, if the social worker is in the habit of going on with work after the proper closing hour has arrived, she or her supervisor must arrange some sort of automatic call, which, without any effort of her will, will forcibly pull her away from her work, as a delicious child used, by previous arrangement, to summon me from my office at five o'clock. I have little hope for this all-essential reform unless automatic breaks and tractors are arranged so that the social worker's tired will is not her only defense against a disastrously large intake. Without some such device she will never restrict her work to what she can do well without hurry and with sufficient time for thinking, reading, and discussion.
Wider fellowships with other races.—Again I begin with a medical analogy. Having had occasion during the last war to practice medicine for a number of months among French refugees in Paris, I became aware of the immense diffi
culties which pile up when we try to cross a racial boundary, even so slight a one as that between an American and a Frenchman. For medical purposes we need but a moderately clear understanding of a foreigner's personality, yet though one is fairly fluent with his language, one often finds himself separated by fundamental uncertainties about the physical and mental experiences to which the word symbols refer. I really believe that a patient can rarely get the very best medical treatment from a doctor not a member of his own race. If this is true in medicine, how much truer it must be in the field of social work,❤ where the understandings necessary if we are to accomplish anything are much more intimate and subtle than in medicine. Yet social workers are usually quite ready to undertake far-reaching and intimate case work for Poles, Italians, Greeks, or Russians without even a knowledge of their language, far less any familiarity with their standards, their customs-all that they take for granted and so do not tell us. Schools for social work could never train their students in all the racial cultures, racial history, and racial characteristics which some of them may need later to know, but, as I see it, a wider fellowship with people of other nationalities will make us very cautious and modest as to our ability to undertake social investigation or therapeutics in members of a race whose language we do not know. I have seen many tragic and comic disasters from the failure to recognize the differences which confront us in any such attempt.
A wise Russian physician now supporting herself in Boston, and widely conversant both with the social needs of her compatriots in Boston and with the failures of American social workers now attempting to help them, believes that American social workers should never try to help a Russian without the aid of some other Russian, better educated and perhaps more prosperous, who can interpret, not so much linguistically as culturally, morally, even religiously, between the two races. I have known and admired one social worker who, on finding herself in a district peopled largely by Sicilians, set herself to learn not only their particular dialect of Italian, but their literature, their feelings, and their customs, so that in the end she had acquired almost a new language of the soul in her relations to these people. Yet she was always anxious for the sort of aid which my Russian friend advocates.
As long as American social workers find so large a proportion of their work lying among persons of another nationality and another language than their own, their success, as I see it, will depend on their cultivating in the future a wider fellowship to an extent they never have done in the past, until they are familiar both with the language and with the racial psychology of those among whom they work. This has long been one of the gospels preached and practiced by our great leader, Miss Jane Addams.
A wider fellowship with books and scholarship in our own field.-It has long amazed me to see how little fellowship, how little intimacy, social workers have with the books upon their own subject, which are read as a rule, not by social workers, but by psychologists, college professors, and by all sorts of people who
need them far less. Social workers are now very generally working to establish themselves upon a professional basis and to gain recognition as a profession. But this should certainly not be claimed until they find the energy and make the time to be familiar with the best that has been said and thought by others in their own field.
By this I do not mean books on psychology. I think as a rule that these books have little that is of value to the social worker. Social workers are themselves the psychologists and have ordinarily a vastly greater acquaintance with the human soul than those who write the books on psychology-books which nevertheless I see social workers swallowing whole, with disastrous results in mental and spiritual indigestion. We shall never rightly value the benefits which psychology has to confer until we realize that psychology almost never discovers anything. It interprets facts previously known. These new interpretations may be of great value, but it is essential to realize that they are new interpretations and not new facts, and that every student of the human soul has a perfect right to interpret the same facts in his own way, the facts of human nature, observable by any of us.
A wider fellowship with books and with study is sure to make us better observers in the field of case work, more accustomed to the idea that it is every social worker's business to gather observations fit to be recorded in print, or utilized as a basis for legislation. Those who never read, seldom write, and it is for this reason that until of late we have had so few books about social work that have been worth reading. The habit of reading, that is, of following and criticizing other people's printed records and interpretations of the human lives with which they have been dealing, makes it possible for us to keep records that point somewhere, as distinct from records that merely remind us of something apt to be forgotten or enable us to make our statistics at the end of the year.
There is no one right way of keeping records. Several equally valuable records might be written about the same case, each from a different point of view and all true and sound. Unless you have a search in the back of your mind, a question that you are bound to answer "Yes" or "No," an idea that you want to prove right or wrong, you will never write daily records of permanent value. But anyone who is reading and thinking about his work is sure to have such questions in his mind, and therefore is often fitted, without any other of the qualifications called scientific, to do scientific case work. In another mood we all of us sympathize with the remark that we should always regard a client as a person and not as a case. But it is truer to say that we should always regard him both as a person and as a case. He cannot be totally unlike all other persons, and if he bears any likeness to any other human being he falls in that respect into a class; in other words, he is in that respect a case. This does not in any way contradict the equally vital truth that in some respects he is himself and no one else, unique, unclassifiable; not a case, but a person. Personal devotion stops delighted in someone's individual and unique characteristics. But
whoever thinks about his work will see each person also in the light of others, and others in the light of the one now before him, in other words, will rightfully think of each person as in certain respects a case.
Here as elsewhere fellowship does not mean that we abandon our own, surrender ourselves body and soul to those whose fellowship we seek. One can share in the results of scholarship and contribute to them without becoming so biased that one is nothing but a scholar, just as one may maintain and cultivate his own national characteristics while exerting himself strenuously to understand those of another nation, and can recognize the great remedial forces outside social work without ignoring his own unique chance for service.
The wider fellowship that comes from sharing one's best.-A very wise woman Isaid last October at the Massachusetts Conference of Social Workers: "It is your duty not only to know the children in your case, but to see to it that they know you," that is, to share with them the best that you know, the standards, visions, values by which you live. But I have known few social workers who actually muster the time or the faith necessary to make this attempt, without which I am sure there is something seriously lacking in social work. Despite all our intentions of being democratic in our case work, we are not so unless we can succeed in giving our best, in sharing the sources of our own happiness, in communicating our own enthusiasm, as well as in receiving these currents from others. This is, I suppose, the most adventurous side of social work, and the one most certain to be neglected by those who allow themselves to be chronically hurried, but it implies and creates the widest fellowship which human experience can touch.
The implications contained in the idea that a social worker should share her best with her clients are wide-reaching. First, there is the implication that social work, when it is a serious professional occupation, requires intimacy with one's client, and not merely the knowledge necessary to hand him certain needed information or to make simple adjustments in his situation. Secondly, this intimacy implies that much unhurried time has been spent with the client, and hence that he is one of a small group to which the social worker's efforts are limited. Thirdly, it means that if there is a difference of race or of language between client and worker, much labor has previously been spent to make it possible to cross this gap. Fourthly, it means that the social worker must have some intimacy with her "own best," so that she distinguishes it from second bests, third bests, and from other people's bests which float about her mind in the shape of mottoes, poetical or religious phrases left with her by tradition, reading, or hearsay. This process of distinguishing the sources of whatever strength, courage, cheerfulness, reliability, originality, and wisdom we have demands time for study and reflection. Finally, there is the technique of lying in wait for an opportunity to share one's best and seizing the chance when it comes. That this often appears so difficult is due partly, I think, to our unfamiliarity with our own best. Few of us have more than a following acquaint