Lake Charles American-Press from Lake Charles, Louisiana on June 14, 1964 · Page 59
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Lake Charles American-Press from Lake Charles, Louisiana · Page 59

Lake Charles, Louisiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 14, 1964
Page 59
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THE FAMOUS NOVELIST WRITES HER DAUGHTER A LETTER ABOUT LIFE By PEARL S. BUCK Nobel Prize winner for Literature; Pulitzer Prize winner for the novel, "The Good Earth" I am pleased, of course, that your senior class in high school has asked me to make your commencement address. You were thoughtful enough to send me the invitation six months ago, giving me, you said, plenty of time to prepare what I wanted to say. In actuality, I am not sure it has been A kindness to provide me with so much time for thought—-for it has also provided time for doubt. What can I talk about? Is there anything I might say which can be of use to you and your classmates, or even of interest to you? I remember a letter you sent me in your freshman year. Apropos of nothing, it seemed to me then, you wrote: "I can only learn from my own experience," It was a warning to me that everything I have tried to teach you was *ow to be tested by your own experience before you would believe it I replied by return mail that each generation must learn from the preceding one, else there can be no 'human progress. In fact, your whole practical life is built upon what others before you have learned and nave taught you —-and which you now use almost without thought. It is only in the area of morals and ethics that it seems you refuse to accept universal knowledge. Here you claim the right to question, to disbelieve, to denounce, to reject You have this right, of course. Improvement is always possible in all areas, and to question is the primary step. Yet I venture to suggest that improvement can only be made when it is based upon immutable nat-- ural law. What is here today was always here and always will be here, its form changing but its substance never. It is the substance of which we must learn. Substance is the truth one generation hands on to another and which the new generation must accept if progress is to be made. Scientists know -this ^recess very well, for each scientist bases his discovery upon what another scientist has already learned. All this is only a preamble, perhaps. At least it was in my mind long before your invitation came. And last week, you remember, when you and a group of your friends were sitting around the fire with me one evening, I tried it out on all of you to see whether I could find out what you would like me to talk about on Commencement Day. You were all noncommittal, and in the silence I asked a leading question in order that I might see where your thoughts were: ""What do you talk about when you are by yourselves, without parents or teachers?" You looked at each other, and then your impetuous redheaded friend laughed. "Sex, sex, sex," she said. Very well then—sex let it be. For surely sex is an area as wide as life itself, permeating as it does every part of the life of man and woman. Let me be frank; it also is the ' area in which your generation is experimenting most vigorously without regard for past knowledge. W HY DO I SAY THIS? Because statistics tell me so. A quarter of a million babies are born each year out of wedlock in our country. About half of them get adopted. The others drift into orphanages and foundling or foster homes. These children, born displaced, are the result of your experiments with sex. Yet there is nothing new about sex. All the questions about it have been asked in previous generations, and sex knowledge is as old as life itself. Only the answers to fhe questions are different In Asia, for example, children are not born out of wedlock. Boys and girls are separated at an early age, and generally marriages are arranged while they are still quite young so that children may be born only within the acceptable setting of a family. What Asians know, what we all know, is that every child has the right to be born into a family. Security and stability depend upon a child being born in such a way. Without family, no child grows into a whole human being. This we have learned, this we know, from one generation to another. Yet you reject this knowledge when you consider it possible or even desirable to experiment with sex outside of marriage. You say that chastity in itself is unimportant— but it surely is important when its loss results in so many lonely, desolate children. ~\7"OU SEE WHAT I am getting at. I am using JL sex as an example of what disaster can come if one generation rejects the basic knowledge handed on by the preceding one. For there is such a thing as the law of a natural ethic, and the individual cannot break that natural law without punishment A child is a good example of natural law. He is born of man and woman, of father and mother, as a result of their union. Nothing can change that fact No experimentation can change the natural law. When a child is born according to this law, he is not illegitimate. It is the parents who have behaved lawlessly, although in our society it is the child who suffers the punishment. Yet I am not sure about this. In her secret heart, the girl-mother suffers. She rejects her child, she sends it forth alone among strangers. And perhaps the boy-father suffers, tod, for he has lost a part of himself. Suffering is punishment. I know, of course, that you are interested in far more than sex. Yet because sex is of basic concern in the lives of men and women together on this earth, I use it now both for Family Weekly, June 14,196J,

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