Interview by Glenn Clark
This interview was recorded in 1939 and we uncovered it via the George Washington Carver National Monument. Special thanks to Curtis Gregory at the National Park Service and Peter D. Burchard. Learn more about George Washington Carver here: georgewashingtoncarver.us
Dig into this interview in our podcast. Jacques Cousteau and Oliver Sacks round out this special episode on self, sight, and deep-sea diving.
The Animated Transcript
When I was in college at Ames, Iowa, I had charge of a football squad and a running squad. I was the professional rubber in those days. We called them rubbers. We call them masseurs now because it’s more dignified and sounds better, but we called them rubbers.
My work with oils, I felt that we did not know enough about the efficacy of oils in the art of healing, so I started out to find as far as possible the value of some of these oils. So that in using these oils and liniments and pastes and powders and so forth, there seemed to be something lacking. When I came to Tuskegee, I had a chance of studying it further.
Dr. Carver, do you consider yourself a chemist?
We have to be very careful, lest the ego comes in. A person that can bake a reasonably good cake or a reasonably good pan of biscuit can’t go out and put up a shingle and say that they are good cooks! But they simply use their kettle or pan as a means to carry out the end. So I simply use the chemical laboratory to find certain things that I’m looking for. A laboratory is simply a place where we tear things to pieces. Sometimes we can get them together again if we want to put them together, and sometimes we can’t. But nevertheless, we can pull things to pieces and get the truth that we are searching for. We can at least find out, out of what certain things are made, which gives us information to do other things with.
Sometimes it is wise not to look for too much appreciation. The main thing is to be sure you’re right, and go ahead, regardless of whether people appreciate it or whether they don’t, because in time, they will appreciate it. So simply be sure that you are on the right road.
Dr. Carver, what is your standard by which you judge success or failure in life? That’s a question that any young person would ask you.
Well, that is a question that can’t very well be answered by yes and no. I should say the chief purpose of scientific training is to find truth. And whenever you find truth, you find the science. You shall know truth and the truth shall make you free. There is nothing more destructive to development than ignorance and ignorance is simply, “I don’t know.”
I should say this that the further anyone gets away from themselves, the greater will be their success in life. You can’t get very far in life if you don’t get away from Self. You know self is a little bit of a thing. That little word “I”, terrible “I” disease, one of the worst “I” diseases that was ever known.
Then too, the question naturally comes in, how can I be sure that I’m on the right road. I should simply say this, that in all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths. Now you must learn to look to Him for direction and then follow and you’ll never go wrong.
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