The Spike or Victoria College Review 1937
One of the facts I learned in Biology was that no two people are physiologically more than comparable; from psychology I gleaned that two people never react exactly the same to an identical stimulus, and logic taught me that reasoning processes are as varied as individuals. And I have discovered the conclusion that every person has a different sense of proportion and a varying degree of flexibility of mind.
Perhaps you know "John." He dreams. But his dreams are all of the same pattern. Though he is young his ideals are fixed already and he is proudly inflexible. If you stop to talk with John in the street he will drive through polite preliminaries of conversation and penetrate your susceptibility with the theories that you probably heard when you went tramping with him and again riding in a tram and again sitting out a dance. It is a pity that John's ideas depend for force on the emotive words he uses in expressing them, because sometimes your mind clicks and you see that banality has become eager intensity, and you wish the disillusion has never come because you like John and you want to submit to his passion of words.
John is contemptuous of Paul's attitude. Although Paul admits readily that his education began when he first met William Morris, if you listen for long to his expression of ideas you can see how he has explored beyond the original impulse to socialism to all of the movements that can arouse the enthusiasm of young people. Because he feels the urge towards change he is prepared to face the challenge of inconsistency in order to explore by reading and interchange until he can reach independent solutions.
Now Paul is flexible, but you can't introduce him as "Paul,—interested in the Labour drive"; or "Paul,—who supports the Oxford Group Movement." He resents a label that may pin him down. The enviable ability of being able to reach anyone's level and progress outwards from there, is his. Maybe it is strange, but Paul nevertheless is an uncomfortable person—his mind probes.
Peter is like a dog. He snuffles round the bigger dogs and because his mind is quick and polished he can run with any of them. Most of the dogs Peter runs with have fine coats and are well brushed—and they bark a lot. Peter barks too but you may not distinguish his bark from any of the other dogs. It is a clever echo and then, too, he is so nimble and quick to keep in the shelter of the pack and add his noise to theirs—unless you disapprove, when you discover that Peter just wasn't barking at all. Do you like Peter?
Maybe you like Mark. He is that peculiar "withdrawn" man who is found usually on the fringe of a crowd. He doesn't talk much. Occasionally, without exploiting what he thinks, he is likely to drop a very penetrating remark into your discussion if you are getting aroused about Educational Reform, or if it is Pacifism you are enthusiastic on, Mark can force you to defend your views there, too. His technique is simple. His mind sifts whatever he hears and ranges it alongside his present knowledge, to be reviewed in thought.
I polish my pebblestone towards the day when all these are my friends.
—E. M. Brisco.