“Enq: One of your strongest arguments for the inadequacy of the existing forms of religion in the West, as also to some extent the materialistic philosophy which is now so popular, but which you seem to consider as an abomination of desolation, is the large amount of misery and wretchedness which undeniably exists, especially in our great cities. But surely you must recognize how much has been, and is being done to remedy this state of things by the spread of education and the diffusion of intelligence.
Theo: The future generations will hardly thank you for such a “diffusion of intelligence”, nor will your present education do much good to the poor starving masses.
Enq: Ah! but you must give us time. It is only a few years since We began to educate the people.
Theo: And what, pray, has your Christian religion been doing ever since the fifteenth century, once you acknowledge that the education of the masses has not been attempted till now – the very work, if ever there could be one, which a Christian, i.e., a Christ-following church and people, ought to perform?
Enq: Well, you may be right; but now –
Theo: Just let us consider this question of education from a broad standpoint, and I will prove to you that you are doing harm not good, with many of your boasted improvements.
The schools for the poorer children, though far less useful than they ought to be, are good in contrast with the vile surroundings to which they are doomed by your modern Society. The infusion of a little practical Theosophy would help a hundred times more in life the poor suffering masses than all this infusion of (useless) intelligence.
Enq: But, really –
Theo: Let me finish please. You have opened a subject on which we Theosophists feel deeply, and I must have my say. I quite agree that there is a great advantage to a small child bred in the slums, having the gutter for playground, and living amid continued coarseness of gesture and word, in being placed daily in a bright, clean school-room hung with pictures, and often gay with flowers.
There it is taught to be clean, gentle, orderly; there it learns to sing and to play; has toys that awaken its intelligence; learns to use its fingers deftly; is spoken to with a smile instead of a frown; is gently rebuked or coaxed instead of cursed. All this humanizes the children, arouses their brains, and renders them susceptible to intellectual and moral influences.
The schools are not all they might be and ought to be; but, compared with the homes, they are paradises; and they slowly are reacting on the homes. But while this is true of many of the Board schools, your system deserves the worst one can say of it.”
H. P. Blavatsky