106 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
to the very font of life itself, and their power rises superior to the modifying elements of the environment.
A species, for example, cannot mutate or change into another species through any phenomenon of adaptation, as, on the other hand, a great human genius cannot be suffocated by any limitation, nor by any false form of education.
The environment acts more strongly upon the individual life the less fixed and strong this individual life may be. But environment can act in two opposite senses, favouring life, and stifling it. Many species of palm, for example, are splendid in the tropical regions, because the climatic conditions are favourable to their development, but many species of both animals and plants have become extinct in regions to which they were not able to adapt themselves.
Life is a superb goddess, always advancing, overthrowing the obstacles which environment places in the way of her triumph. This is the basic or fundamental truth,— whether it be a question of species or of individuals, there persists always the forward march of those victorious ones in whom this mysterious life-force is strong and vital.
It is evident that in the case of humanity, and especially in the case of our civil humanity, which we call society, the important and imperative question is that of the care, or perhaps we might say, the culture of human life.