Page 4, 12th August 1949

12th August 1949
Page 4
Page 4, 12th August 1949 — ROBOTS AT PLAY T HE breaking-up of schools, the exodus from

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Organisations: Progressive Party
Locations: Rome


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ROBOTS AT PLAY T HE breaking-up of schools, the exodus from

town .to country and sea, the ingathering of the harvest now far advanced, the cessation of parliamentary news, what appears like a lull in international affairs—and touching wood—the fine August weather have combined to relax somewhat the tension of life.

Those who, either from choice or because they cannot do otherwise, are taking their holiday in " England's green and pleasant land," and in other parts of rural Britain are discovering that there are still places where the dawn is unsullied by factory smoke and old-world villages tucked away in bidden corners far from main road traffic, They learn that time is a matter of geography and that by stepping off the highway they rnay put the clock back a whole century.

There are compensations in holiday-making even for those who travel by overcrowded trains to seaside resorts that have doubled their usual populations. At least they have the opportunity to interest themselves in their fellows under conditions which make the study of human nature both easy and pleasant. We have grumbled, perhaps, that the New Order has denied us this chance ; it is too strenuous to permit more than a hasty sideglance at the foibles and eccentricities which contribute to the comedy of life, and too impersonal and standardised to allow of the variety required to maintain our interest in other people and their ways.

The crowds we meet in the course of our daily work are too busy and too severely disciplined by innumerable regulations to display the human traits it is .to delightful to watch. Fortunately however vacations minimise these

conditions. We have not yet reached the stage in regimentation when the State tells us when and at what to laugh. Up to the precarious present, fiction writers and film producers are under no obligation to season their stories with ideological propaganda, and no censor has yet drawn the line at characterisation dictated by a free imagination. The robot at play can forget for a precious week or two that he is a robot. The breathing spell afforded by the holiday season permits him, if he be so disposed, to recover his genial humanity. Have not our political and industrial bosses themselves taken time off for golf or fishing or foreign travel, thus allowing the mice to play while the cat's away ?

THERE is one pleasing feature of

• L the season which even the strictest boss would scarcely for bid : in many cases parents and children can enjoy themselves to gether in a way that, during work time and term time is difficult. The robot; if it is wise, will avail itself of the opportunity to remember that not only is it a man but also a father, not only a woman but also a mother.

We can go further and say that a play time shared with the youngsters will afford the means to show that, at heart, the robot is still a child capable of building sand castles and of misdemeanors even more repugnant to the new puritanism. That is much, very Much to the good. It is particularly good for those whom drudgery has all but deprived of the ability to enjoy themselves in a hearty, natural and healthy way. In many cases, present-day working conditions have vitiated our taste in entertainment. The reaction to certain kinds of labour is as undesirable as the labour which prompts it. If a man is depersonalised by his daily routine, It is probable that his pleasures will be on the same mental and moral level.

For holidays to serve their rightful purpose it is needful that the leisure they afford and the open-air conditions they , permit should be such as to promote a healthier and more balanced outlook. Health is to be interpreted here in a moral as well as in a physical sense. It means wholeness and wholeness is akin to wholesomeness, and this word, again, is a distant relation of holiness.

All engaged professionally. commercially or in industry are apt to be over-specialised. The lawyer, tradesman and industrialist can very easily allow his or her preoccupation with his work to deprive him of the humanity he shares with the rest of us. The allround man has but a poor chance today ; his very normalness is against him ; the prizes are for the specialised expert, who may be no more than a fraction of the complete person..

IT is this lack df balance holi

days should correct. Then it is that it is possible to return to the time preceding the present highly developed division of labour. It is not only the camperout but others, too, whom the disorganisation of our usual way of life obliges to accept primitive

conditions. The atavism which makes us appreciate picnicing is extended over a larger area. The popularity of the habit reveals the fallacy about " putting back the hands of the clock." Perhaps some day a " Progressive Party" wilt, for this reason, forbid it, but this has not happened yet. Idleness is not necessarily un fruitful. The mind freed from the urgencies of the moment can all the better lie open like an unruffled lake to take the reflection of the heavens. It is when time stands still that eternity may begin to invade our lives. There is an activity which is not simply an indulgence but is a form of discipline.

A restless generation will be none the worse for the schooling of such inactivity. Is it not a symptom of the disease from which we are suffering that we must be always on the move, hurrying from place to place in search of what lies within ? This restlessness is attributed to the

effects of war-experience. Certainly it is not to be denied that, for the millions who took part in it, the war, breaking into careers and uprooting us from home and habits, was unsettling. For such as suffer in this way, indolence spent in cultivating an animated immobility might supply an efficacious corrective.

PERHAPS, if victims of the im patience that wants to see the world turned upside down in a few months were to twiddle their thumbs in a deck-chair for a certain period every day some of the revolutionary fever might be expelled from their systems. They might learn that organic growth is sounder and healthier than anything achieved by the assembling of prefabricated parts. If we would plan our lives wisely, we must sometimes give ourselves the leisure required to stand back from the picture, surveying it in a detached manner and in its wholeness. It is then that the sense of proportion, destroyed when the mind is stampeded by the desire to obtain a quick turnover, can play its part in the planning. Speed is obtainable only at the cost of patience ; the sounder the road-bed, the quicker will traffic be able to move on it.

The fact that Rome was no built in a day may help to explain its longevity. It might be remembered that St. Paul's lightning tours through the length and breadth of the Mediterranean world were preceded by a period of gestation in the solitudes of Arabia.

In any case, there is such a thing as a wise laziness. It was not without purpose Divine Providence ordained that, between each active day, man should spend some hours in sleep.

pRAYER-TIME and play-time, in the Catholic scheme of things, are not disconnected. Indeed, they may be said to be interdependent. It has been frequently charged against us that we " play at religion." We take the charge as a compliment.

Religion, in our view, is for the whole man, soul and body. The sacramental system endows material things and physical actions with spiritual significance. And, if tears and laughter are akin, so, it seems to us, are intense earnestness and a childlike delight in vestments, processions and lighted candles.

But there is another side to this if prayer is akin to play, then, it is clear, play must be akin to prayer. If our central Rite is a Feast, it is open to suggestion that our feasts, in the fellowship they engender and the cause for thanksgiving they provide, should possess an element of worship.

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