Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 18, No. 10. July 15, 1954
What is under way is a corruption of the critical process, a corruption almost of the reasoning process. Why, after all, have the Canadians, the British, the Scandinavians—all of them sharing whatever danger we are exposed to—why have they somehow escaped the wave of fear and suspicion that threatens to inundate us? Why has the process gone so far here? The responsibility for this situation is widespread and far from clear. Advertisers have much to answer for—-they have taught us over the years to disregard the meaning of words. Educators have a heavy responsibility—they have failed to train the critical faculties. Politicians have a heavy responsibility—they have distracted our attention from the genuine to the meretricious. And we are witnessing, too, one or those consequences of democracy which Tocqueville described over a century ago. In a democracy, he pointed out the pressure for conformity must always be much stronger than in an aristocratic society, for here differences of appearance, of interest, of ideas all look like challenges to the accepted standards of the multitude. And in a democracy, too, the average man, the half-educated man, will not hesitate to arrogate to himself the function of critic and arbiter.
Mr. Davis has no pat solutions to our problems. The ultimate solutions, he knows, are to be found within us. They are moral and intellectual, not mechanical. And again and again he returns to what is the great theme of the book—courage. "Don't let them scare you," he writes. And yet even as he writes the words, he known that they are not wholly adequate. For "they" can hurt you. Especially they can hurt the young, the man or woman just starting in life with responsibilities of family, with a career still to make. What a to be done to protect these people and to fight their battles?
Mr. Davis concludes on this note: It is one of the grandeurs of old age that the old—at least those who are reasonably secure—need no longer fear misfortune. They are beyond and above the hopes and fears and passions that assail the young. They can afford to be brave, they can afford to speak their own minds, they can afford to take risks. It is indeed the peculiar responsibility of those who have security the security of age, the security of family and position, the security of wealth—that they take risks. This is one of those elementary considerations which too few of those who enjoy security keep in mind.