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January 14, 1962 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1962-01-14
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in a Proud, Primitive but Progressive Country
American and African Meet

ORDER is the key word to our exist-
ence. We are born and we die. We
are educated and we work. At age 65 we
retire. If we have done anything of im-
portance (such as creating a machine or
developing a theory that helps to make
more order out of the remaining chaos)
we will be given an alphabetically correct
spot in Who's Who or Who Was Who.
When man looks at his life, he finds
nothing but this emptiness. For an or-
dered world is an empty world.
We receive our rood, clothing, and
shelter through an economic system. We
are governed by a bureaucratic system.
We receive most of our entertainment
from the Columbia Broadcasting System.
And we are educated in what is at times
a stifling, drag-out, day-long university
It is no wonder that one out of every
10 people in America is mentally ill. The
boredom of life is unbearable. When a
man looks at his past life and then into
his future life he is shocked. He has
devoted his life to being rational; he will
abide by the moral, social, and political
rules he was taught in school until the
day he dies.
Looking in a mirror, he will say to
himself, "I have only one life to live. I
am the most important thing in the
world. I want to do something that will
make my life worth the effort." But, yet,
he usually goes on living as he had done,
saying to himself, "I just feel depressed
The man who knows he would like to
give his life meaning is lucky. But there
are millions of people that do not have
this insight. They are born into the
rational world and die in it. They can not
see the stifling effects of our ordered bu-
reaucratic society. They feel the straight
jacket of routinization without being
able to express or realize this feeling. All
the hospitals filled with mental patients
are examples of these unfortunate peo-
ple who could not realize the nature of
our ordered society. They could not see
the order; they could not fit into the
artificial system. Even more important
they could not see that the system is
Not being able to abide by a system
they could not explain, and having the
cold and truthful realization that they
cannot find meaning in the real world,
the mentally ill create a world of their
own-a world of their imagination-or
else fight the world in an attempt to
change it, an attempt to give meaning
to their lives. Regardless of how these
people react to the feeling of not belong-
ing to the world, they inevitably with-
draw into themselves. They withdraw
into a world of irrationality, a world
which for them is more real and has
more meaning than the artificial order
of human existence. Irrationality is the
only way that man can break away from
a rational society.
But the majority of men- do not with-
draw from the rational world. They re--
main, and consciously or unconsciously
wish for a change. They cannot find a
meaningful life in requisitions, tax forms,
factory systems and traffic tickets. Yet
from the time they are born until the
sistant night editor on The Daily, is

time they die, they remain in the system.
For those that deviate there are the law
courts, the neighbor's gossip or the in-
sane asylum to return them to our or-
dered rational world. How,then, can
man break away from the rational world
to give meaning to his life without end-
ing up in an asylum?
THE ANSWER lies in the rational sys-
tem itself. Max Weber, the noted so-
ciologist, has carefully studied the pro-
cess of rationalization. He says this pro-
cess of rationalization is "punctured, by
certain discontinuities of history. Hard-
ened institutional fabrics may disinte-
grate and routine forms of life prove in-
sufficient for mastering a growing state
of tension, stress or suffering."
These discontinuities appear when the
system of rationalization defeats itself
as in great economic depressions, or when
the agricultural system fails to produce
enough food, or when the defense system
fails to stop an invading army. It is here
that the system breaks down: it is here
that the system grows weak in the'eyes
of man. It is in such situations that man's
urge to find meaning in his life tells
him to break with and defeat the ra-
tional system. It is here that irrational-
ity comes to the fore. It is here that
man's will to find meaning to his life
finds its agent in a force called charisma,
the irrational force that drives man to
create a different world.
Before we attempt to see how charisma
evidences itself, we must investigate its
nature. We must pinpoint the source
from which it- emanates. To do this, we
will examine the areas where man tries
to find a meaning to his life, as this is
inextricably connected with charisma.
* * *
ART IS one way in which we search for
life's meaning. The great paintings
of the past few millenia communicate
a certain feeling to us when we view
them. They do not merely show us a
particular scene. Rather, there is a deep,
irrational inner understanding. There is
a subtle quality in the painting that is
the key to a door within our minds which
when opened shows us the world in a way
we can understand-in an irrational,
emotional way.
It is certain that the world can be
understood better through emotion than
through a statistical or rational analysis.
In music, it is not the suggestion of the
sea we feel when we hear "Victory at
Sea," nor is it the suggestion of spring we
feel when we hear the "Pastorale Sym-
phony." It is rather the forces behind
spring, the forces behind the sea, the
forces which shape our lives, that we feel.
In fact, it is the' forces that reach for God
-irrational forces.
If we look to the high seas and the
tales of buccaneers and so-called adven-
turer capitalists we feel a spirit of adven-
ture, a spirit of irrationality. There is
nothing rational about the adventurer.
There is nothing rational about a man
who fights the sea and endangers his life
when he could be safe at home on 'his
farm. There is nothing rational about the
,ioneer or the man who fights against
great odds. It is in this pioneer spirit. It
is in this desire to do the new and excit-
ing, that we find charisma. -
If we look to war and find a man fight-
ing for his life, and doing gallant deeds of
bravery, we feel a thrill at the thought of

someday doing similar brave deeds.,A
war is not rational.
When we view a cathedral we are filled
with great emotion. This emotion points
upward as the spires of the cathedral.
There is no reason to feel attached to
the rational world when we are in church
and hear the organ and the choir. Here
too, we find understanding in an irra-
tional force.
It is therefore in art, war, adventure
and religion, for example, that we find a
charismatic feeling. But the feelings we
experience in these examples do not em-
anate from them. The feelings of char-
isma emanate from us. Any understand-
ing about the world or life that we ex-
perience comes from our own minds.
These things merely release these deep
irrational thoughts from our subcon-
scious minds and bring them to our con-
scious selves. The charisma is resident in
us, not in charismatic objects or acts.
S* * *
WTHERE DOES THIS charisma come
" from? It would be easy enough to

state that it was inborn and drop the
matter at that. But there is a better ex-
The explanation lies in the past. Be-
fore the dawn of civilization the world
appeared irrational to man. ie could not
understand the forces that dominated
him. Terror of the night, fear of light-
ning and a horror of the forces in the
sea dominated his existence. It was in
these things that he saw the meaning
in his life.
He saw the sea and sun as gods. He
fought the night and tilled the soil.
When invaded by an enemy he fought
to protect the" land he had built. Man
began to conquer the irrational forces of
nature. In conquering these forces, he
learned to understand their meaning-
the meaning in life.
When man went to war he knew irra-
tionally that he was fighting for the right
to understand these forces. When he
went to war he experienced the adven-
ture and irrational joy of heroism.
The early geniuses, who discovered and
learned to protect fire passed on the ir-
rational excitement of their stimulation
to their fellow men. Each time another
man learned to keep the fire he would
understand without being able to verbal-
ize it the same irrational joy experienced
by the first fire builder.
It is through this cultural communi-
cation, therefore, that we can feel the
irrational forces of fire even though we
never discovered it in the darkness of
the primeval forest. This is the force of
charisma and is comes to us from the
past through our cultural ancestors.

concepts of volunteer service carefully
developed by congressional studies and
interested private groups, such as the
University's Americans Committed to
World Responsibility? Can they justify
the publicity and grandiose words which
have surrounded thePeace Corps?
It would be folly to attempt any scien-
tific study of the Peace Corps' effect
upon the populace of the countries to
which it is sent. In Tanganylka,-the pro-
gram's objective is to provide technioal
assistance to help solve social-economic
problems-provide better roads and more-
accurate estimates of Tanganyika's min-
eral resources. Contact with the people
will be limited to professional associates
and to visits to the towns and villages for
provisions and breathing spells from the
extensive-travel expected from'each man.
The technological progress can therefore
be measured by the number of miles of
road built or improved and by the num-
ber of geological maps drawn. These
achievements are difficult to point to
and- brand. "Product of American For-
eign Aid"-especially if after the road
surveys are made, the United States fails
to take the next step and provide funds
tn actually build the roads.
In Tanganyika, the basic obstacles in
the path of development center about the
need for capital to develop both the hu-
man and physical resources. It is a coun-
try neglected by the big companies of
world trade and the big nations which
have large amounts'to spend on foreign
aid and military bases.
One factor contributing to this situa-
tion is the smaller number of Europeans
in Tanganyika than elsewhere in Africa.
Yet this has brought fewer political prob-
lems with white settlers than in other
African countries. Tanganyika's inde-
pendence movement has been swift and
Under the skillful leadership of Prime
Minister Julius Neyerere, the country has
moved quietly through the stages leading
to political autonomy. Into this econom-
ically shaky but politically stable African
nation have jumped nt only the Peace
Corps but also other American groups to
encourage and give assistance to the'Tan-
ganyikans. One a two-year program of
people-to-people social development are
12 American Friends Service Committee
volunteers, of which the author is a part.
A summer group of 20 from Harvard Uni-
versity and Radcliffe College recently left.
filled with enthusiasm for Tanganyika
and its people. The Columbia Teachers
Program, backed by the International Co-
operation Administration, is providing
eastern Africa with trained teachers to
give two-year relief to an overloaded
school situation. Other ICA projects are
scattered throughout Tanganyika, along
with a few United Nations projects, not-
ably those of UNICEF and UNESCO.
All of these programs, including the
Peace Corps, are appreciated by the Tan-
ganyikans, who are beginning to pride
themselves on the attention they are re-
ceiving from other parts of the world.
Like the Peace Corps project, the others
depend on the support of the people to
continue the work of the experts or semi-
experts, once the program is concluded.
* * *
of most of the other programs-are to
convince the Tanganyikan people that
Americans are interested in helping them
without necessarily asking a kickback.
The objective is to establish people-to-
.people contact through young, mature
Americans working under living situations
approximating those of Africans. The
hoped-for result is that this approach
will be more effective in generating a
peaceful world than the bombs for which
America has become better known in
these developing nations. Out of five
questions asked me once by a group of
young Tanganyikans, three referred to
America's nuclear war preparation-after
'I had talked for 15 minutes on the geog-
raphy of the United States.
The Peace Corps in Tanganyika will
attempt to show American interest by

Prime Minister Nyerere addresses a crowd

aiding in the development of a better
internal transportation system and the
training of young Africans who can suc-
ceed the Americans after their two years
of service is completed. The importance
of good transportation within a country
which is trying to get itself into a viable
economic condition can hardly be over-
emphasized. With the need for more cash
crops and capital investment, roads must
be built to carry produce, livestock and
mineral wealth to the processing centers
and market areas.
Presently, the Tanganyikan road net-
work is in no condition to handle large-
volume, heavy-duty vehicles. Although
most main roads are passable during the
rainy'-season, they slow traffic to a
crawl. The primary roads are mainly of
gravel, but more necessary than surfacing
is the need to eliminate dangerous curves,
hills and narrow bridges which create
hazards beyond the available skills of
many African drivers and those unac-
customed to primitive roads.
From the viewpoint of economic de-
velopment, the road dilemma creates a
vicious circle since there is reluctance to
raise transportation overhead costs by,
operating vehicles requiring frequent and
expensive maintenance. The wealth which
exists latently in the back areas-min-
erals, livestock, crops and consumer mar-
kets-stay neglected. An example is the
estimated millions of tons of coal which
lie in the southern highlands. Because of
the lack of both rail and road develop-
ment it remains untapped, while ex-
pensive diesel fuel is used to provide
electric power for most of the areas which
have electricity. By tapping the coal, the
cost of electricity could be lowered and
the number of possible kilowatt hours in-
creased, thus offering greater attraction
to industry and greater incentive for
consumer consumption.
Into this situation of road under devel-
opment comes the "Peace Army"-as

Swahili translates "Peace Corps"--to give
.a needed boost to the three-year program
of economic and service expansion pro-
posed by the Tanganyikan government.
After the basic work is done, the govern-
ment hopes to borrow money to do the
actual construction. Thus the Peace Corps
opens up the possibility for aid loans
which the United States, Soviet Union,
Great Britain, Western Germany and Red
China held out to the smaller nations,
ROAD BUILDING is not only a tangi-
ble bench mark in the economic ex-
pansion of a country, but also a symbol
for intangible forces working within a
society. The Tanganyikan can point to a
new road with increased traffic and busi-
ness speeding by and identify this with
his newly-won independence. It-can stim-
ulate him to improve his agriculture, and
provide a foot-in-the-door for the harried
agricultural officer who is battling to in-
troduce improved agricultural techniques
to overcome low yields of poor quality. -
If the community is invited to help build
the road, there is the possibility of in-
creased community cooperation which
could extend beyond road building to san-
itation improvement, literacy work and
public health measures.
By providing more opportunities for
the villager to see the "outside world"
through better transportation connections
to the large towns, there can also develop
an important step in the war on disease
-better housing. With building materials
available for the first time, the quaint
and picturesque banana thatch hut or
mud-dung house can be replaced by gal-
vanized iron- roofs and concrete block
walls. This may dishearten the tourist,
but Tanganyikans will appreciate the
disappearance of disease-bearing insects,
tuberculosis-producing stale air and high-
ly inflammable thatch.
Most Tanganyikan government officials
recognize that change is inevitable, but
wish to insure that change will come
when and where the people themselves
want to break old traditions. Matters will
not proceed so smoothly for the Peace
Corps once they begin pushing roads
through private fields. One thinks of
many contemporary Americans who pro-
test the introduction of a road through
their backyard or "back 40." In the jeal-
ous guarding of personal holdings, people
around the world differ little.
One danger facing Peace Corps road
builders is the use local politicians can
make of them. These local "big-wigs" may
be expected to associate themselves with
the new "Bwana Americans" if the pub-
lic response is favorable or make them
scape goats for such unpopular results
as crop failures, land grabs or latent ra-
cial hostility. Even before the Peace Corps
members had assembled in Texas, the
leader of a minor African political group
made the standard remark that the Peace
Corps was an arm of the Central Intelli-
gence Agency sent to spy for the United
States. (After all, he argued, wasn't it
called an "army?") By remaining poli-

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