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ance with it, and many of us do not even know its name! How then can we hope to introduce it to anyone else? The dilemma is like that of parents whom I have heard say that it is impossible to present to a child anything so abstract as the idea of God. But the next sentence that comes from such a bewildered parent usually shows that he is himself very vague about the truth which he would like to make clear to his child. It is hardly strange that we cannot convey an idea which we do not ourselves grasp.
But grant that we are on intimate terms with the source of our own courage, there still remains for many the barrier of reserve or of that strange modesty which hesitates to share with others the best that he knows himself, though he is quite ready to hand out "seconds" and "thirds," scraps of pagan philosophy, items of cheap modern sociology and psychological dogma which no one ever lived by.
Is it not astonishing that a person who would scorn to pass counterfeit money or shoddy goods, and who in ordinary affairs scrupulously avoids repeating gossip or hearsay, will yet hand out soiled and shop-worn philosophy, thirdrate imitations of religion, or, still more often, will let clients starve or go seriously undernourished in spirit, without any attempt to give the best she knows? Yet how, without this, can we suppose that we have any fellowship, wide or narrow with those who seek our aid?
I do not mean that theological discussions are in place when we are trying to help a discouraged mother, a reckless breadwinner, or a dissipated adolescent. I mean something much more familiar. Among the best things that I know in life is laughter, hearty, irrepressible laughter that clears the air and tinges the future. Some of the best social workers that I know are never content until they are on such terms with the client that sparks of wholehearted mirth can fly up. "Till we've had a good laugh together, I never feel that we are acquainted." Poverty and sorrow need be no bar to the entrance of this healing angel, laughter. Again we are sharing our best when we share our enthusiasm for another's character, for a child's patience, a brother's long-suffering reticence, a mother's heroic courage. Again, some of the best moments that come to any of us are our moments of wonder. And they are very shareable if we so sensitize and prime ourselves that we can be counted upon to find something wonderful in the course of any intimate relationship. But beneath wholesouled laughter, wonder, or enthusiasm there are always, I suppose, articles of belief. These are not so easy to share in the earlier stages of acquaintance, but I find that they almost inevitably pop out later if we are in readiness, that is, if we are on intimate terms with ourselves.
Why has social case work swung so far away from this sort of adventure, the adventure of transporting high-pressure energy from person to person, as we so readily transmit water-power via electricity into light and heat for distant cities? Because of our fear that we shall be accused as proselyters, propagandists of sectarian faith. But how poor an excuse that is! A man with a burning faith
in the League of Nations does not conceal it from his associates for fear of seeming bigoted or in dread of undermining the childlike faith of Senator Borah's isolationists. No genuine faith has any need or any right to conceal its positives, the sources of its inner happiness. It is our negations, not our visions, that wound others or disturb their faith. In sickness I have shared religious aspirations with Catholics, Jews, and even with atheists, and I profoundly believe that in these golden moments I have hurt no one. Would that I could be as sure that my science, my sociology, and above all, my silence, has done no harm. I know that I cannot avoid medical blunders in the future, though I trust they will be less numerous than in the past. I know that in every plan of economic rehabilitation, in every social legislative reform, mischief may be latent because of our ignorance of distant, often unforeseeable, consequences. But when a group of people can jubilantly laugh at, wonder at, or admire some fact in the scheme of things, and when by God's blessing I am allowed to be one of that group, I believe I may say with assurance, "Well, at that moment I did no harm." With my help, or in spite of my blunders, something eternally valuable flowered in that laughter, that wonder, that enthusiastic love of another's great heart.
Never are we so secure from loneliness as in those moments. Never do we feel wider fellowship with powers human and divine. Rarely do we have clearer intimations of immortality.
PERSONALITY IN SOCIAL WORK
Porter R. Lee, Director, New York School of Social Work
The one qualification for successful social work, universally recognized as indispensable, is a good personality. For support of this sweeping statement the inquirer is referred to any executive seeking a candidate for a vacancy on his staff. Good personality. What do we mean by it? When we test the qualifications of a candidate we ask: Is he tactful? Can he work with other people? Is he dependable? Has he poise? Has he personal magnetism? Is he temperamental? And the ultimate, invariable, all-inclusive test-has he a sense of humor? If he rates 100 per cent in all of these qualifications, he may be nonexistent, but he would seem to be, according to the current philosophy of selecting personnel, so far a perfect social worker. The search for good personality in candidates for social work reflects something more than a preference on the part of appointing officers for new associates who will be agreeable to work with. It is a recognition of the fact that the tasks of social work demand in their performance something more than technical proficiency. They present themselves to the social worker very largely in the guise of human personality; and they can be understood and performed only by those who have a gift for human relationships.
In active human affairs few programs carry conviction through their own
intrinsic merit. They are accepted by constituencies chiefly because they are presented through the medium of personalities who carry conviction. In general, men are inspired less by facts and philosophy than by facts and philosophy presented to them by an inspiring individual. We are influenced in our standards and modes of conduct less by principle and precept than by principle and precept interpreted by personalities who beget confidence. Public support is enlisted for new movements less by the inherent merit of such movements than by conviction inspired by the magnetism of their proponents. An overburdened spirit will relieve its stress by confiding, not in one who is willing to listen, but in one who will listen with understanding. At heart, most of the tasks of social work involve stimulating change in entrenched attitudes, modification in beliefs, redirection of effort, alteration in the values ordinarily attached to the process of living. The most potent agency for this aspect of the task of social work is the interplay of personality upon personality. Settled conviction, rooted prejudice, entrenched habit, established routine these yield to a variety of influences, but to none so readily as to the influence of man with man.
Where personality counts.-At what strategic points in the administration of social work does success hinge chiefly upon the qualities of human personality and their expression? In the last analysis, all social work is concerned with the adjustment of individuals to their environments. This is most conspicuously true of the various forms of social case work. Strictly speaking, however, other forms of social work are also concerned with this problem. We seek social legislation for the purpose of modifying the environment of the individual in ways that will make his adjustment easier. We develop group effort in order to add to the environment elements which may enrich the life of all. We conduct research in order to have a basis for understanding the conditions of social life, and ultimately in order to modify them intelligently.
The adjustment of the individual to his environment as a general statement of the function of the social case worker suggests an intimately personal relationship. It involves two important elements. The first is a knowledge of human personality and its characteristic difficulties in social life. The second is that peculiar power of so conducting one's self with respect to another that assistance offered him in his own effort at adjustment will not only seem to him both authoritative and acceptable, but will in no way usurp his own judgment and responsibility. The most successful social workers are those who have, in addition to a thorough knowledge of human personality and of the processes of adjustment, such equipment of personal qualities as will inspire in their clients a disposition to trust their leadership. This is the one phase of social case work which is uniformly present in every case work experience. It is the first strategic point at which the success of the social worker depends largely upon personality.
The adjustment of the individual to his environment involves a knowledge of environment and its possibilities for the individual. It involves also an ability to work effectively with environmental factors. What is environment?
The theorists are not agreed. For one engrossed in the problem of living, however, it has some practical aspects. It is a home. It is a school. It is a job. It is recreation. It is literature. It is a street, shops, laws, a hospital, the ideas of others, books, lectures, newspapers, conversation. It is the complete category of persons, things, experiences outside one's self. However defective this conception of environment may be from the scientific point of view, it has practical implications for those of us who are trying to adjust ourselves.
It has equally practical implications for the social worker. The adjustment of an individual to his environment with the help of a social worker means practically such modifications in his life as changes in his relationship to school or to job, a new neighborhood to live in, new forms of recreation, contact with medical agencies for specific services, training for new occupational or cultural outlets. To the social worker, the environment of the client presents itself through the medium of personality. In his efforts to be of service to his client through the modification of environment, his client's home is a group of parents, brothers, and sisters. His school is a teacher. His job is an employer. His recreation comes through a librarian, a club leader, a scout-master. He achieves health or hygienic living through his use of a physician or a nurse.
In so far as the successful adjustment of a client demands a different relationship with these persons, the case worker's success depends not only upon his skill in suggesting the right modifications, but also upon his power to win parent, teacher, employer to a new interest in his client.
The importance of this personality aspect of environment cannot be too strongly emphasized. Success in dealing with it puts upon the social worker demands which cannot be met merely through ingenuity in devising for clients paper programs of saner living. It calls upon all of the resources of personality which the case worker can muster.
Leaving social case work for the field of community leadership, the importance of personality is equally apparent. Community leadership as a function of social work is concerned sometimes with public support for legislation, sometimes with the promotion of a greater degree of cooperative effort on the part of social agencies, sometimes with the galvanizing of an apathetic public attitude into live interest in social problems, sometimes with the organization of an entire community in the financial support of its social work. There was a period in the recent history of American social work when it was believed that to secure effective public action with reference to any evil nothing more was needed than to publish the facts. More recently, however, the conviction has grown that facts, even when accompanied by their social interpretation, do not necessarily lead to effective activity. So far have we swung from this rather passive form of community leadership that in some of our activities we have adopted such phraseology of the market place as "selling social work to the public," "putting the program across," etc. Repugnant as this phraseology is to many social workers as applied to social work, and I confess I wince when I hear it, it never
theless implies recognition that effective community leadership must reach and influence human beings. This again is a task in the performance of which the most important process is the interplay of personality upon personality. In general, the degree of response which social groups make to proposals for community action is determined less by the inherent merit of those proposals than by the impression produced by the personalities of those who essay community leadership.
I should like to present a somewhat different problem as a fourth aspect of the task of the social worker in which personality plays a leading part. This is a by-product of organization. There are almost no instances of the individual practice of social work apart from organizations. Practically all social workers are employees of agencies. There are, of course, many places in which the complete staff of a social agency consists of one person, but most of us are working under supervisors or are ourselves supervisors. The efficiency of an organization is determined by many factors, none of which is more important than morale. Morale is a quality of group activity which is the expression of the relationship of the members of the group to each other and to their group organization. What determines the quality of the morale in a particular organization? In part, the conviction of the whole group of employees that the work of the organization is worth while. In part, the consciousness of the employees that their participation in the work of the organization is valued. How are conviction and consciousness such as these developed? Their development depends mainly upon the quality of the relationship which exists among all of the members of the group organization.
The most important factors in determining the quality of this relationship are those who occupy positions of authority. Organization in itself is a depersonalizing procedure. As a process it implies the establishment of routine for handling many matters which would otherwise be settled by the persons concerned through spontaneous discussion and decision. Organization may develop a smoothly running machine. A smoothly running machine in the sphere of administration does not necessarily imply an impersonal experience, but this possibility is always present. Whatever tests of efficiency may be legitimate for other fields of human activity, we must retain as a test for social work the degree of spiritual satisfaction which it yields to those who are concerned with it, whether as clients, as professional workers, as volunteers, as contributors, or as citizens. We have already suggested that the most important tasks of social work are tasks which call for the investment of personality. We shall not realize our fullest return from this investment unless the agencies of social work are so organized as to draw from the rank and file of social workers their fullest contribution to the morale of the movement. The basis of this contribution is maintenance within social agencies of a fine quality of personal relationship among their personnel. For the development of such a relationship, the duties of the rank and file of workers must appear not merely as assigned tasks, but as