The Mind & Its Education | George Herbert Betts

Listen to episode 207 of the Inspirational Living podcast: Heredity, Instinct & The Power of Play. Edited and adapted from The Mind & Its Education by George Herbert Betts.

Podcast Excerpt: Each individual, busied with their own affairs and blinded by their own interests, is likely to take themselves for granted and forget that they are a part of a great, unbroken procession of life, which began at the beginning and will go on till the end. Strange indeed would it be if all the generations who have lived, struggled, and died before us, and whose blood flows in our veins had left no impression upon us.

We are a part of all that has gone before, and all that comes after us will be a part of us. Each generation receives, through heredity, the products of the long experience through which their ancestors have passed. The generation receiving the gift today lives its own brief life, makes its own little contribution to the sum total, and then passes on as millions have done before.

Through heredity, the passions, the fears, and the tragedies of generations long since moldered to dust, stir our blood and tone our nerves for the conflict of today. Every child born into the world has resting upon them an unseen hand reaching out from the past, pushing them out to meet their environment, and guiding them as they start upon their journey.

This impelling and guiding power from the past we call instinct. Through instinct, each one of us has inherited the habits of our ancestors.  However, no individual enters the world with a large enough stock of instincts to start them doing all the things necessary for their welfare. Instinct prompts us to eat when we are hungry, but does not tell us to use a knife and fork and spoon; it prompts us to use vocal speech, but does not say whether we shall use English, French, or German; it prompts us to be social in our nature, but does not specify that we shall say please and thank you.

Heredity has not laid down the specific modes in which these and many other things are to be done, so as to crystallize them in instincts; thus we must learn them as we need them. The simplest way of accomplishing this is for each generation to copy the ways of doing things which are followed by the older generation among whom they are born. This is done through imitation…..

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