Useful to Neighbors

Charles Wagner, “The Healing Power of Beneficence,” Courage, (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1903), pp. 227-228:

I do not believe that youth should be crushed by the sight of sin and misery, nor that its horizon should be darkened by a too precocious revelation of the sorrows of the world. But it is equally bad to hide everything from youth. It is one thing to be overwhelmed daily with heart-rending recitals and startled by distressing scenes, and quite another to learn that there are beings who suffer, and to be initiated gently into the trials of life. A young man who has arrived at the end of his adolescence, and who has been guarded from all knowledge of suffering and death, is like a victim who has been purposely disarmed in order to be handed over to his executioners with more security. He is ignorant of one of the primordial laws of life, the law of sorrow. This is a serious lack as far as he himself is concerned, and renders him less useful to his neighbors. How can one who is ignorant of grief feel compassion for it and relieve it?

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