A certain young woman has been a common topic of discussion in the United States and elsewhere for months now. “Poor Patty Hearst,” or “Wicked Patty Hearst.” “Innocent Patty Hearst,” or “Guilty Patty Hearst.” “Weak Patty Hearst,” or “Rebellious Patty Hearst.” What would happen if our Patty or Betty or Carol or Jane were kidnapped, tortured, and taught a whole new set of values, given a whole new base for judgment, given totally new goals for which to work? If the base upon which our “Patty” stands is not firm, how could it do anything but shift and slide, allowing the feet to be pulled or pushed by some determined force?
As I read about Patty Hearst and hear people discuss her, a children’s chorus keeps surging through my head: “The wise man built his house upon the rock … and the rain came tumbling down.… The rain came down and the floods came up … and the house on the rock stood firm. The foolish man built his house upon the sand.… The rain came down and the floods came up … and the house on the sand fell flat!” I can see children as they sing this song, smacking their hands together to show the total collapse of the foolish person’s house.
How very many of the children who have sung this song have later been taught that what they learned in Sunday school was only religious myth, crutches to help the weakminded, a kind of escape from reality. How many children have gone on to high school, college, graduate school and have had impressed upon them the principle that there is no absolute, that everything is relative. How many children who sang heartily about the contrast of base, rock versus sand, and the difference it makes, are later told by people whose teaching they sit under, and must respond to and take exams on, that ...1
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