Valley News Forum for Oct. 2, 2023: Striving for intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities
|Published: 10-09-2023 4:18 PM
While striving for intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities, sometimes in reverie, I return to when I was an incredulous Catholic teenager walking with stalwart determination, while crossing the Dartmouth campus, on my way to the Aquinas House rectory.
That was a challenging period in my life when questions relentlessly insinuated themselves, and absolutely refused to be ignored. I knew the priest at the rectory. As an altar boy, I had served him for several years in many masses. Later, he originated the Dartmouth center for Catholic students and oversaw its operation. There was something in his demeanor that appeared to transcend mysticism. That is what I was in search of.
Now at the front door of this imposing rectory, I knocked. The door opened, and without any congenial greeting the priest abruptly asked, “What is it that you want?” I said, “Father, I have some troubling questions that I would like to ask you.” His reply was, “Well I’m sorry, but you’ll have to ask your parish priest.” Dismayed, I replied, “Father, I have, but his scripted answers are vague, and do not really address my questions.” Then came his final response, “I can’t help you.” And he abruptly closed the door.
As I once again crossed the Dartmouth campus, I was surrounded by buildings where I had been afforded an opportunity to experience lectures and debates by such perspicacious wordsmiths as Robert Frost and Kurt Vonnegut. I had reveled in performances like “The Fantastics” and “Our Town” adroitly rendered by students under the direction of Warner Bentley. I had been immersed in seminars followed by inspired sparring. Dartmouth offered extraordinary intellectual and aesthetic fare for its students, and often for members of the surrounding community!
As I approached home, I felt the mythical melding into mist. I had made a choice.
I chose to accept that nurturing intellect is not an easy aspiration, but I felt and continue to feel that it far outweighs being subjected to, and shackled by, the vagaries of embroidered supposition.
Some of you may remember My Weekly Reader, a current events newsmagazine for school kids that the teacher handed out once a week.
A short report called “The Air Is Changing” made a lasting impression on me. It was the first time I read about the greenhouse effect. At the time, it seemed like a pretty simple explanation of the science, a little frightening but not a big problem for my future because I knew the grown-ups would fix it. Well ... the grown-ups didn’t read My Weekly Reader. Now we’re the grown-ups and we need to fix it.
I was in fifth grade, but this little bit of science wasn’t hard to grasp.
The Air Is Changing
“Carbon dioxide is a gas found in the air. Living things need a little carbon dioxide. Soon, there may be too much.
“Every time a car is started, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is increased. Carbon dioxide forms whenever fuels are burned.
“Carbon dioxide is changing our weather. This invisible gas acts like the glass in a greenhouse. It lets sun energy come in, but stops the radiation of heat from the inside out. Carbon dioxide acts like a heat trap. It is making the earth warmer.”
— My Weekly Reader, Oct. 5, 1959.
West Newbury, Vt.
Record corporate profits,
Record CEO payouts.
I see no connection!