Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Boreham on Life to the Full

Realizing Potential Not Automatic
Frank Boreham believed one might fully experience all the blessings of life. The values Boreham believed underlay such an aspiration included an appreciation of human worth, recognizing the uniqueness of individuals and the influence of personality. Advancing along the path of full expression involved a commitment to lifelong learning, becoming one’s own person and dovetailing one’s personality to other people. He asserted that the realization of one’s full potential did not happen automatically but that the imagination for such a goal could be fostered by such pursuits as adventure, literature, travel and the enjoyment of the arts.

Life to the Full?
In aspiring to fullness of life, F W Boreham was not oblivious to restrictive circumstances individuals might have to battle, such as ill health. Robert Louis Stevenson was an author who greatly influenced Boreham. The Baptist preacher judged that Stevenson had succeeded more than any other writer “in impressing his personality upon the imagination of his readers”, and that he was representative of a select literary circle “who by some subtle magic that can be felt but not explained, make everybody fond of them”.[1] The “invalid’s triumph”[2] was greater, in Boreham’s estimation because, despite the Scottish author’s frail condition and precarious existence, he waxed eloquently about the goodness of life and delighted in the season’s changes, the invigoration of Springtime and the way the “return of Spring gave him a new hold on existence”.[3]

Fullness Despite Dehumanizing Forces
Dr. Boreham was mindful of the restrictive dehumanizing forces in society that limited peoples’ enjoyment of life. In his editorials about children, the disabled, women and the racially oppressed he advocated educative, legislative and political policies to enable them to experience life fully.

National Fullness
Boreham believed that ‘All the blessings of life’ could take on national proportions when Australians celebrated their heroes and achievements, emerged with gratitude from their British roots, found their unique voice, especially in the arts and harnessed the country’s vast resources.

Fullness in All of Life
While it was in a church building that Boreham first heard the words that became the overriding theme of his editorials, he believed ardently that all the blessings of life were to be experienced in all of life’s domains. Boreham advocated nature as one of the major sources of life’s richness. He recommended what he had personally discovered, namely, that a regular exposure to nature’s bounty and beauty were among the many ways people could receive therapy, be stimulated to wonder, undertake learning and be nudged towards truth and an encounter with the spiritual.

Although Boreham stated that nature had a capacity to be replenished, he frequently identified the responsibilities of the public and politicians in such things as preserving and protecting birds and animals, conserving resources (soil, water, bush and forests) and enshrining natural principles into society’s laws and lifestyles.

Cry of Nature
The theme ‘All the blessings of life’ was for Boreham not only a personal expression of thanksgiving but also a statement of human justice and a cry on behalf of nature herself. In this way, Boreham’s unifying theme went beyond the human realm. As he related it to the environment, this overriding theme had ecological implications and assumed cosmic proportions.

Heirs of the Ages
F W Boreham believed that his readers were “the heirs of all the ages” and that history was a prime source of the blessings of life.[4] Books, monuments, architecture and memorabilia were recommended as significant avenues for readers to get in touch with the treasures of time.

Developing Passion for History’s Treasury
F W Boreham was disappointed that Australians were not passionate about “communing with antiquity”, but his hopefulness about a change in the public mind was expressed many times. Ensuring that historians connected the past to ordinary life in a colorful, human-centered style, and celebrating the anniversaries of the nation’s heroes and significant events were among the ways that history’s plenty could be harnessed for personal and national progress. In directing his reader’s gaze to the past, Boreham encouraged present, life-changing encounters which illustrated the truth that all the blessings of life were available, despite the dimensions of time and place.

Fullness in the Ordinary
Perhaps the limitlessness of this overriding theme was nowhere more emphasized than in Boreham’s editorials about the richness to be found in ordinary things. He wrote about the surprising wealth to be gleaned from the sphere of the small, the ordinary and the everyday highlighted the universality and the accessibility of ‘all the blessings of life’.

On the Fringe of Fullness
Boreham’s overriding theme was not a declaration that he had taken full possession of life’s bounty. Repeatedly he told his readers, “We are on the fringes of things”.[5] This expression was not a vain hope but an allusion to Boreham’s preferred theological method of encouraging his readers to move from things near at hand to the unexplored, from the familiar to what is presently foreign and from the creation to a knowledge of the Creator. The theme, ‘All the blessings of life’, was an exuberant expression of an inexhaustible goal.

Geoff Pound

Image: Australia Day 26 January. “F W Boreham's hopefulness about a change in the [Australian] public mind was expressed many times.” With Australia Day tomorrow there might be a demonstration of this change and Boreham’s hope fulfilled.

[1] F W Boreham, Mercury, 21 May 1932.
[2] Boreham, Mercury, 11 July 1936.
[3] Boreham, Mercury, 11 July 1936.
[4] Boreham, Mercury, 3 January 1948.
[5] Boreham, Age, 27 September 1947.