At the beginning of the experiment, Beverly disliked Gloria because she thought Gloria was "unattractive" and "aggressive." The objective of the test was to discover if Beverly could come to like Gloria simply by being friendly toward her. Directed by the Harvard Research Center in Creative Altruism, the experiment was successful. After 18 weeks of intensive and uncalled-for good deeds, Beverly's new attitude towards Gloria upheld one of the research Center's major assumptions, namely that applied love can be a tremendous power.
Love, in fact, altruistically speaking, may some day be the only possible prescription to save a suicidal world, according to Research Center Director Pitirim A. Sorokin. With this idea as a starting point, Sorokin has developed his novel Center by applying the customary scientific and analytic approach to Love. His goal, of course, is still as vague as the word Love itself. The Center annually spends $15,000 of its extended endowment, but has no far been only able to demonstrate what it initially assumed.
Lilly Gives Endowment
It began in 1949 on the suggestion and $20,000 unsolicited donation of Eli Lilly of the Lilly Drug C. who had admired ideas in some of Sorokin's earlier books. At first scheduled to cover a five year project the Center's endowment has been constantly renewed by Lilly ever since President Conant converted the Center into an official adjunct of the university. After its organization Sorokin retired from his University duties and began to devote all his time to its program.
Materially, the center itself consists of one small office in back of Emerson Hall, one fulltime secretary, and its director, Sorokin. Its endowment funds are spent mostly for sociology experts who have helped collect material ranging from the biographies of 4,600 Christian saints to data on the ancient techniques of Yoga and Sufism (a system of a Mohammedan mysticism). In addition experiments have been made with subjects ranging from Harvard and Radcliffe students to patients and nurses at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital.
The Center's labors have been as prolific as they are aimless. Already seven lengthy volumes have been published, five written entirely by Professor Sorokin. Included in these works is a 500-page study entitled "The Ways and Power of Love", and a shorter analysis of "American 'Good Neighbors' and Christian Saints".
Perhaps the most appealing of the Center's discoveries has been that creative altruism, as formulated in the Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are meek ...") does work in actual practical cases.
Enemies, including Beverly and Gloria, have grown to like each other through experimental creative altruism. In five recorded cases, this method sometimes included no more than constant friendliness and understanding. During one case, in fact, a friendship grew despite "atrocious remarks" by one subject concerning the other's clothing and personality.
In another experiment with two Radcliffe girls, Janet, the experimenter's informant, was asked to become friends with Dora even though Dora, as Janet described her, had a "horrible voice", asked "stupid questions", and "did things you wouldn't mind seeing her do in front of a boy, but that you hate to see in front of a girl."
Janet began the experiment by engaging in conversation with her "victim" and after a week concluded that Dora needed only a little "understanding". She had discovered, among other things, that in high school Dora had had a nervous breakdown because of family problems.
After invitations to square dances at Memorial Hall, Language Club meetings, and some instruction on crocheting, Janet found that she could tolerate Dora's voice, and that she did not consider her really "affected", She had, she told the experimenter, grown to like Dora, but she couldn't tell whether Dora actually liked her.
Experimental techniques of creative altruism were also tried with great success at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital. The subjects were nurses vs. patients and, of course, the nurses were always the informants. A typical report came from Nurse L. W.
Only Likes Fast Music
"He (Patient F.R.) blew up at me at the dance. He likes the fast music and he got mad when I played a slow number in the juke box. He walked away from me. The next day I chose to take care of him in an ether treatment because I made up my mind that somehow I'd get him to like me again. He does now, but it was because of my persistence in the matter."
Love, according to Sorokin's working definition of the word, is not as simple as the phrase "I love you" might indicate. Certainly not merely a fleeting emotion, true love, in fact, is five dimensional. The perfect love must include a definite percentage of intensity, extensity, duration, purity, and adequacy.
"Actions by which a person freely gives to other his greatest values--health, life, soul, happiness--are love actions of the highest possible intensity," the director stated. Compare these, for example, with offering your seat to someone on the subway.
The maximum extensity of one's love is, of course, to love the whole Universe(not merely mankind) while the "zero point of love extensity", Sorokin said, "is a love of oneself only."
Equally important is the duration of love since even love of the highest intensity may last for only a moment. Among the lowest degrees of this diversion is love which lasts, for example, only on weekends and is forgotten during the remainder of the week.
The purity of love is explained by Sorokin's old-fashioned definition of altruism. "Love known no bargain ... no reward. love is always for love's sake." Sorokin attacks the blind "romantic" kind of love (which he calls "a sort of a fever") as the most typical type of inadequate love.
In the Center's survey of Christian saints, a majority were discovered to have originated from wealthy families,m including royalty, while only five had begun their lives for example as fishermen.
The survey also disclosed that many saints were educated or trained at a monastery or convent and that almost a majority were "born potential saints" rather than being converted to saintliness by various catastrophies. The study's figures concluded, among other things, that the saints' altrustic nature was a major factor in an extraordinary longevity and vigorous health.
Other observation results have included a study of the Society of Brothers in Paraguay where some 650 people live strictly by the Golden Rule. Education is the perpetuating force in this society which holds all property in common.
Three types of altruists have been distinguished by the Center's research. Fortunate Altruists, like Albert Schweitzer and Benjamin Franklin, grow into altruistic creativity peacefully, Catastrophic Altruists, like St. Paul and St. Francis of Assisi, go through painful periods of conversion before assuming their new altruistic personality. The Intermediary type, of which Mahatma Gandhi is an example, includes traits of both previous types.
The clear advantage is with the Fortunate Altruist according to Director Sorokin. The perfect example is given in the life history of Serafim of Sarov: "Born in the pious family of a building contractor, Serafim early showed his religiosity by playing around a church which his mother had built..." His life ended appropriately at the age of 74 as he died quietly in the keeping position of prayer.
Included in the Center's reports are isolated examples of occasions which show the power of love against aggression and enmity. "At Pee, Siberia," Sorokin recorded, "during the famine, a young relief worker assigned to drive oxcarts over robber-ridden roads, refused a military escort. When robbers did stop him, he asked them to help him transport the food to the starving people. Instead of attacking him, they helped him."
The Center's most technical work involves a study of Yoga and its direct connection to altruism. In one report, purusha, the pure divine energy of the Yoga system is defined chiefly as Love, in addition to knowledge and existence. The Yogi, whose basic exercise involves conscious and deliberate control over breathing, participates in the universality of Love by submerging his personality elements (body, emotions, habitual process of thought, etc.) In everyday life, the Yogi learn to abide by the law of Love through certain yamas (abstinences).
To include every type of sect, cult and nationality, Sorokin is currently making plans for an International Association for the Application of Creative Altruism. Its foundation, almost an inevitability since the Center started six years ago, will merely be another step in the director's struggle toward universal recognition of love.
Sorokin, who initiated the College's department of Sociology in 1931, is content, however, even to glance at the idea of worldwide creative altruism. His early years, spent amidst the violence and destruction of revolutionary Russia where he once waited weeks in prison expecting a Bolshevik firing squad, impressed on him how necessary a formula for peace was to the world.
Today the Research director is the first to admit the Center may contribute no more than the "proverbial drop in the bucket" toward the necessary formula. "But," he insists, "since governments, big foundations, and better brains seem to be absorbed mainly in the promotion of wars and in the invention of increasingly destructive means for the examination of man, someone, somehow, and sometime had to engage in the study of the phenomena of unselfish love."
... I believe in the following truths, which are fully confirmed by our experimental studies!
Hate begets hats, violence engenders violence, hypocrisy is answered by hypocrisy, and love generates love.
Unselfish love has enormous creative and therapeutic potentialities, far greater than most people think. Love is a life-giving force, necessary for physical, mental and moral health.
Altruistic persons live longer than egotistic individuals.
Children deprived of love tend to become vitally, morally, and socially defective.
Love is the most powerful antidote against criminal, morbid and suicidal tendencies; against hate, fear and psychoneuroses.
It is an indispensable condition for deep and lasting happiness.
It is goodness and freedom at their loftlest.
It is the finest and most powerful educational force for the ennoblement of humanity.
Finally, only the power of unbounded love practiced in regard to all human beings can defeat the forces of Interhuman strife, and can preserve the pending exterminations of man by man on this planet.
Introduction to The Ways and Powers of Love