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UU Infidels Newsletter
Spring 2004
The Educated Heart
by Gae DelCampo


A teacher of warm recollection - a charming Headmaster from Leeds - took special delight in reminding us all that "...an educated head is only half the equation. The other half is an educated heart." That was forty years or so ago. It struck me as a worthwhile perspective then and still does today. What I've seen and learned of the world tells me he was onto something.

The Educated Heart, as he understood it, learns its lessons neither in the schools of technology, nor of parochial mein, but rather in those of the human condition -amongst which The School of Hard Knocks incorporates graduate material. Wherein, as with all education, what one gets out of it depends upon what and how much of the self one willingly invests. Hearts that earn their credentials, become full participants in the human process with a degree genuinely worth having.

Not unlike the poet/mathematician -myself when young once applied to those whose distinctions leaned heavily upon degrees -PH.D./MBA and various honorifics -with a sense of awe; which diminished down the years as gradually it dawned upon me that this world suffers far too many educated fools, disproportionate numbers of whom are in a position to make decisions adversely affecting us all. An ongoing form of intellectual "taxation without representation" with precious little recourse for those whom the fates designate as something less than full participants in the game.

The problem is that the Educated Head -left to its own devices -discounts the lessons of the heart. Too bad. They are the lessons of forgiveness, forbearance and generosity tempered with humility, empathy, patience and kindliness, the sum total of which defines the capacity for basic human decency. All of which the Educated Heart practices in whole or part, on a fairly regular basis. It knows what makes life worth living, having learned not to over-value the lessons of conventional education except insofar as they may be incorporated into the human schema. It examines conventional wisdoms in terms of truest worth, and discards a great good many which -on close inspection -do not really meet the heart's standards. What Portia meant, for example, in her reminder that "...the quality of mercy is not strained ..." that it actually is "mightiest in the mightiest "-really does bless him that gives and takes.

Having absorbed such lessons, the Educated Heart goes on to incorporate that learning into a personal state of being which enhances, as well, that state of being in others. Edna St. Vincent Millay grasps this in the closing, warning lines of Renaissance: that "...East and West will pinch the heart that cannot keep them pushed apart, and he whose soul is flat, the sky -will cave in on him by and by. "

The Educated Heart comprehends this and needs no translation.

Gae DelCampo grew up in Seattle and was a newspaper columnist. She is a retired English teacher and a Mark Twain scholar. Gae was a founding member of the Fredericksburg Infidel group.