By Barb Hauge
Most of us enjoy talking to someone smarter than we are, for if we listen we can learn a lot. Some people, who have really high IQs, never manage to apply that intelligence to their own lives and problems. One social worker told me, Kids are tough; they can survive anything. Perhaps, but I believe that abusive treatment can damage intelligence.
Albert Einstein is respected as one of the greatest minds of this century, yet his insight into the nature of nuclear fusion and fission resulted in the most terrible weapons ever developed by human kind; atomic and nuclear bombs. Still, it was that bomb which ended the violence and slaughter of World War II.
Professor Einstein was a sponsor of the first Encampment for Citizenship (a program for Leadership in Democracy) held at Fieldston School, New York City, in the summer of 1946. He must have been 73 and I was 20 when I first met him across the table at a banquet. He spoke of the need for understanding the science of human behavior so our scientific knowledge would not outstrip our ability to control what we create. After saying he found the atmosphere mentally stimulating with all the young people and ideas, he quietly slipped away. I remember Einstein as an unobtrusive man with rumpled white hair and large eyes that would twinkle in focus and then seem to look beyond and through all of us to space/time/infinity.
Einstein believed you should speak out and act against injustice wherever you found it; that a decent economic life was possible for all peoples and he believed government could provide security and justice for people of all nations. He also believed that to keep and improve democracy we must be vigilant citizens. He felt that moral deterioration results from ruthless economic struggles and that religion often causes enmity and conflict instead of binding mankind and character of the masses and to cultivate the good, the true and the beautiful in all of humanity.
My life crossed paths with so many wise and wonderful people at The Encampment that I felt privileged. It was like learning at the feet of Socrates. Eleanor Roosevelt was our hostess at a picnic in Hyde Park and spoke of her concern that the human rights of all people be respected. She was in the process of drafting The United Nations Charter of Human Rights. Mrs. R felt the world had sufficient food, but needed far better worldwide transportation and distribution. Although the mother of a large family, she was concerned that population explosion could wipe out the gains made in food production and stressed the need for birth controls. Mrs. R was a tall, aristocratic woman, who spoke with an eastern accent but had a direct, common approach.
We learned from Dr. Ralph Bunche of United Nations, who was a black professor very concerned about race relations but believed that we shall overcome crippling prejudice. In 1950 he received the Nobel Prize for peace negotiations.
Dr. Ginsberg, a psychiatrist told us, The highest development in human relationships is to be creative of one another to encourage others to live up to their human potential.
Al Black, founder of The Encampment said, A spiritual and democratic stirring can be felt throughout the world. Youth wants some honest help in finding its own answers. In 1945 we dedicated ourselves to the task of helping create a free world with hope and fulfillment for all.