The average man, even the modern man, has a great deal to teach us. But the nuisance is that he won't teach it; he will only repeat what he has been taught. We have almost to torture him till he says what he does think, just as men once tortured a heretic till he said what he did think.
- G.K. Chesterton, Illistrated London News, Mar 6, 1909.
A hundred years ago he said that. Almost prophetic. Couldn't be more true today. It immediately made me think of the "barbaric yawp" scene from Dead Poet's Society, which, whether you've seen it before or not, I'm sure you'll want to see today:
A teacher might be sued nowadays for trying a stunt like that. I had some students in the college classes I've taught who could have used it, but I was unable to coax it out of them by my wordsmithing, or even by my mere passion for the subject. Not sure every situation calls for what Mr. Keating did for Mr. Anderson. But we've all known the need for someone to do that to us, in one way or another, or at one time or another. Or is it just me?
This film did it to me, actually. I remember choking back tears as it ripped apart my apathetic and fearful high school soul. But there was no overnight coming of age. Names like Abby and Jesse come to mind of people who, not as violently, but gradually like a slow drip, "tortured" my yawp out of me by their unsolicited but relentless authentic engagement.
Their investment in me brought me out of my shell; made me a contributing part of my community; made me believe that my thoughts, in their humble way, were worthwhile adding to the discussion too. I am forever indebted to those guys, and others.
What about you? Have you, like me, needed to be tortured out of the tip-toeing, lethargic, lemming race of our modern media age? Who or what have been the Mr. Keatings to your Mr. Anderson?