Children also have certain capacities. Capacity may be defined as the possibility to develop skill in certain directions. One, for instance, may have a greater capacity to develop musical ability than another; so with art or business, or ability for any other work. Capacities, more than instincts, seem to depend on the characteristics of parents or immediate ancestors. Thus a child may take after father or mother, or grandparent in this or that particular ability. Instincts, on the other hand, seem to be his inheritance from the race. But whatever his gifts from parent or past the child is born a distinct individual. This is true not only with regard to his physical organism but in respect to his spiritual nature. The relative strength of his instincts, added to the number and quality of his capacities determine what is called individuality. This is what makes each child differ from all others, and this distinctive nature cannot be essentially changed, within our brief lives, though it does possess marvelous powers of development and adaptation. For illustration: Cultivation may develop a perfect specimen of a crabapple, but no amount of careful training could change the crabapple into a Johnathan. Likewise, no system of education can hope to change a numskull into a Newton, or to produce a Solomon from a Simple Simon.
The first vital concern of parents, therefore, should be to see that the child is not robbed of his sacred birthright to be well-born.
It is a matter of regret that the white race generally is such a sorry mixture of humanity. The good and the bad, the intelligent and the ignorant, the feeble-minded and the strong, the criminal and the righteous, have been combined so frequently and in so many ways that the marvel is that more of the human race are not degenerate as the result of contamination. Since the great characteristic of heredity is to breed true and thus perpetuate its kind, and since training and education must take the individual as he is, with only limited power to change his intrinsic nature or to develop any capacity not present at birth, it becomes a matter of serious importance that parents do all in their power to guide properly the mating of their children. The teaching of the Gospel on this point is most significant.
Heredity determines to a great extent the kind and the nature of the individual, and thereby sets limits, which the environment may not overcome. Among these limitations are the following:
1. The relative strength of instincts.
2. The number and kind of capacities.
3. The form, size and quality of bodily organs.
4. Susceptibility to, or power to resist disease.
5. The possibilities of mental attainment.
6. The possibilities of emotional and spiritual response.
7. The possibility to execute undertakings, to control situations, and to govern self as well as others.