QUOTED: Karl de Schweinitz on the Art of Living
“Living has yet to be generally recognized as one of the arts.”
Karl de Schweinitz (1887-1975) was a university professor, social historian, and government welfare administrator who interpreted the emerging principles of social work so that the people not trained in the subject would appreciate social work’s importance and apply the discipline’s findings to public policy and their own lives.
In a 1924 book, “The Art of Helping People Out of Trouble,” de Schweinitz lamented the human tendency to take life for granted. “Being born and growing up are such common experiences that people seldom consider what they involve,” he wrote. “[W]e take as a matter of course the miracle of being alive, and the comings and goings of the men and women about us.”
For de Schweinitz, the key to a successful life is a person’s ability to adjust to ever-changing circumstances of life from youth to age, from health to illness. “[M]an is not born into a world made to fit him like a custom tailored suit of clothes, or a house built to order. He enters a universe that was eons old before his appearance, and that in all likelihood will continue for eons after his departure an infinitely complex, eternally changing universe that evolves its processes unmindful of his presence. It sets the conditions. It is man who must do the fitting.”
Thanks to Maria Popova of Brain Pickings for bringing the attention of the Ladies Cyber club to Karl de Schweinitz and his work.