Scouting, Volume 45, Number 8, October 1957 Page: 2
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FIELD GUIDE TO
By Dr. ABRAM I^EON SACHAR, President, Brandeis University
The longer I go on in public service, the firmer becomes my conviction
that we must focus some very heavy artillery on the so-called good people
of every community—the indifferent, the slothful, the oversensitive, the
cynical, the tired liberals, the refugees from responsibility.
Some years ago, Bertrand Russell wrote a provocative essay which he titled
"The Harm That Good Men Do." He was not primarily concerned with the
patent scoundrels and fakers—the malicious, the evil, the predatory; we have
been alerted to their menace, and we have built up defenses to ward them off
or to hold them in check.
Russell was more troubled by the respectable elements, the pillars of society,
the smugly righteous who would be outraged if they were bracketed with the
Yet it is these who wear out the patience and the courage and the vision of
those who, with great dedication, devote themselves to the service of their
I have often thought of encouraging some young graduate student to write
his doctoral thesis on this phenomenon. He would then list these good people
in the scientific categories where they belong. Perhaps he would give them
forbidding Latin labels, and these might waken them to the obloquy which
Cynic* ii 111
The first group should be titled
"Genus Cynicum." These are the
good people whom Walt Whitman
once excoriated as men with "hearts
of rags and souls of chalk."
They find the world beyond re-
pair and wish to retire to their ivory
towers. They believe that we are
now so overwhelmed by forces which
we cannot control—vast, impersonal,
economic, political, and military
forces—that there is no point in
trying to fight back. No one can
really any longer shape his personal
destiny, they say. We have been
trapped by the iron vice of inevi-
tability. So why resist at "two min-
utes to midnight"?
This morbid spirit has captured
many campuses where despairing
youngsters, certain that the times
are out of joint, retire to the mourn-
What is the good of study, where
is there any relevance in application
to history or philosophy, when to-
morrow you are to be siphoned out
to devote the best young years of life
to the sterility of militarism?
Paul Valery has summarized the
mood of this "Genus Cynicum" in
a memorable phrase. He said, "The
trouble with our times is that the
future is not what it used to be."
There is a second, much more
numerous company. This group, not
Here’s what’s next.
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Boy Scouts of America. Scouting, Volume 45, Number 8, October 1957, periodical, October 1957; New Brunswick, New Jersey. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth329259/m1/4/: accessed April 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Boy Scouts of America National Scouting Museum.