Social Immoralities, October 1907

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Social Immoralities.

Opportunities for Wholesome Recreation the Best Solution of the Difficulty.

By JANE ADDAMS.

We continually forget how new the modern city is, and how short the span of time in which we have assumed that we can eliminate from public life public provision for recreation. The Greeks made their games an integral part of religion and patriotism; the Romans made provision through the circus and the pageant for public relaxation and entertainment; the medieval city not only provided tournaments for the edification of knights and ladies, but dances and routs for all of the people within its walls, and the church itself presented a drama in which no less a theme than the history of creation was put upon the stage and became a matter of thrilling interest.

But during these later centuries, at the very time that the city has become distinctly industrial, and daily labor is continually more monotonous and subdivided, we seem to have decided that no provision for public recreation is necessary. It would be interesting to trace how far this thoughtless conclusion is responsible for the vicious excitements and trivial amusements which in a modern city so largely take the place formerly supplied by public recreations and manly sports. It would be illuminating to know the legitimate connection between lack of public facilities for decent pleasures and our present social immoralities.

In point of fact, we have a multitude of games founded upon religious festivals, upon the maneuvers of war, and of the chase, upon harvesting grain and treading the grapes, upon lovemaking, upon trial by combat, upon the processes of primitive industry. It would not be impossible to revive and develop these historic games into a trememndous power for the very sort of recreation and refreshment which a man living in an industrial city most needs, and of the sort which nothing else could afford him. The commingling of many nationalities in the average American city would not prove a disadvantage in this undertaking, for every attempt at adaptation of the primitive activities would bring the game nearer the universal type, and therefore make more valuable its recreative quality. -- Detroit Free Press.