"How does one move from a subtle, sophisticated, clever, astute and learned individual to being a good person in the small, everyday things in life?"
Professor of Psychiarty and Medical Humanities Robert Coles offered equally good answers after posing her problem at the Reunion Symposium held yesterday in Science Center B. The 250 people who attended, mostly class of 1960 alumni and their guests, gave Coles a standing ovation after his hour and a half talk entitled "Character in Our Your people."
The lecture, one of three symposia held yesterday, was part of the Commencement week program for graduating seniors, alumni and guests. Coles spent most of it talking about his experience as a psychiatrists, particularly his talks with Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old Black girl who was bussed into an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. She had had to walk through angry with federal marshalls by her side and listen to obscene curses on her way to school everyday, said Coles.
"I was praying for them," Ruby had told Coles.
"Why do you pray for them?" he had asked finding her prayer income comprehensible.
"Don't you think they need it?" she replied.
The professor used Bridges and Rosa Park as examples of people who teach us about character. "They teaching today, at some point, 'No, No further I'll take my stand I'm going to stand up to the mob.'"
Coles stressed the importance of continually trying to build one's moral character and not losing sight of this goal in a viel of in tellectualism. "This doesn't mean we should be the anti-intellectual. We need to keep on truck in' morally."
Coles spoke in his usual, rambling style, familiar to alumni of his popular Gen Ed 105 course. "The Literature of Social Reflection."
"He was wonderful," said Maureen Bertoli, mother of Pam Bertoli who is first marshall of the Class of '85. "He has the ability to touch people at the very deepest level, to tell us that's really, really important.