‘Cultivate our Garden’

Voltaire Candide Frontispiece

Photo Credit: Private Collection of S. Whitehead

‘Men must surely have corrupted nature a little,’ he would say, ‘for they were not born wolves, and yet wolves they have become.  God gave them neither twenty-four pounders nor bayonets, and they have made bayonets and twently-four pounders in order to destroy each other.  I could also mention bankruptcies, and the courts who seize the assets of bankrupts and cheat their creditors of them.’

That is an excerpt from Candide by Voltaire.   When I was reading the book, I was so confused why my fellow students and I hadn’t discussed this book at school.  The book still reflects the world’s ongoing conflicts, especially with religion.

At the end of the book, after all the characters’ misfortunes due to religious intolerance or human wickedness, from Germany, Holland, Portugal, Spain, the Americas, France, England to Venice, Candide and the gang end up in Constantinople.  They are invited by an old Turkish man to enjoy the fruits of his garden.  Candide, on his way back home with his friends, to the farm which he bought, reflects upon the kind of life the Turk lives, and concludes that it is more preferable than of the six kings with whom they had supper.  The Turk had also mentioned to him, upon Candide’s presumption of the immensity of his property, that: ‘I have but twenty acres,’ replied the Turk.  ‘I cultivate them with my children.  Work keeps us from three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.’  And Candide concludes as well, that ‘we must cultivate our garden.’

Vilaflor Tenerife Orange grove citrus trees citron

Photo Credit: PhilippN

I agree.  The greater the number of unproductive people, the greater the likelihood of social unrest.


I’ll be honest.  I was not a fan of the United States taking over my country as a colony.  I understand their reasoning behind it, but it’s not like we weren’t exploited.

I will however, give credit where credit is due:

The first American teachers [in the Philippines] were American soldiers.  Because they treated the pupils kindly and because pupils were given free books, pencils, and writing paper, the public schools became popular.

That is from my Philippine History Textbook Introduction to Filipino History by Teodoro A. Agoncillo.

I was shocked to learn of the origin of the Philippine public school system.  If this was possible in my country, I wonder where else this could be possible?

University of the Philippines Los Baños Laguna beginnings

Photo Credit:  University of the Philippines

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This entry was posted in Classical/Enlightenment Thoughts, Education, Foedus Pacificum and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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