LOVE LIFE & WORK
BEING A BOOK OF OPINIONS REASONABLY GOOD-NATURED CONCERNING HOW TO ATTAIN THE HIGHEST HAPPINESS FOR ONE'S SELF WITH THE LEAST POSSIBLE HARM TO OTHERS
By ELBERT HUBBARD
1. A Prayer
2. Life and Expression
3. Time and Chance
4. Psychology of a Religious Revival
5. One-Man Power
6. Mental Attitude
7. The Outsider
8. Get Out or Get in Line
9. The Week-Day, Keep it Holy
10. Exclusive Friendships
11. The Folly of Living in the Future
12. The Spirit of Man
13. Art and Religion
15. The Disagreeable Girl
16. The Neutral
17. Reflections on Progress
18. Sympathy, Knowledge and Poise
19. Love and Faith
20. Giving Something for Nothing
21. Work and Waste
22. The Law of Obedience
23. Society's Saviors
24. Preparing for Old Age
25. An Alliance With Nature
26. The Ex. Question
27. The Sergeant
28. The Spirit of the Age
29. The Grammarian
30. The Best Religion
The supreme prayer of my heart is not to be learned, rich, famous, powerful, or "good," but simply to be radiant. I desire to radiate health, cheerfulness, calm courage and good will. I wish to live without hate, whim, jealousy, envy, fear. I wish to be simple, honest, frank, natural, clean in mind and clean in body, unaffected—ready to say "I do not know," if it be so, and to meet all men on an absolute equality—to face any obstacle and meet every difficulty unabashed and unafraid.
I wish others to live their lives, too—up to their highest, fullest and best. To that end I pray that I may never meddle, interfere, dictate, give advice that is not wanted, or assist when my services are not needed. If I can help people, I'll do it by giving them a chance to help themselves; and if I can uplift or inspire, let it be by example, inference, and suggestion, rather than by injunction and dictation. That is to say, I desire to be radiant—to radiate life.
Life and Expression
By exercise of its faculties the spirit grows, just as a muscle grows strong thru continued use. Expression is necessary. Life is expression, and repression is stagnation—death.
Yet, there can be right and wrong expression. If a man permits his life to run riot and only the animal side of his nature is allowed to express itself, he is repressing his highest and best, and the qualities not used atrophy and die.
Men are punished by their sins, not for them. Sensuality, gluttony, and the life of license repress the life of the spirit, and the soul never blossoms; and this is what it is to lose one's soul. All adown the centuries thinking men have noted these truths, and again and again we find individuals forsaking in horror the life of the senses and devoting themselves to the life of the spirit. This question of expression through the spirit, or through the senses—through soul or body—has been the pivotal point of all philosophy and the inspiration of all religion.
Every religion is made up of two elements that never mix any more than oil and water mix. A religion is a mechanical mixture, not a chemical combination, of morality and dogma. Dogma is the science of the unseen: the doctrine of the unknown and unknowable. And in order to give this science plausibility, its promulgators have always fastened upon it morality. Morality can and does exist entirely separate and apart from dogma, but dogma is ever a parasite on morality, and the business of the priest is to confuse the two.
But morality and religion never saponify. Morality is simply the question of expressing your life forces—how to use them? You have so much energy; and what will you do with it? And from out the multitude there have always been men to step forward and give you advice for a consideration. Without their supposed influence with the unseen we might not accept their interpretation of what is right and wrong. But with the assurance that their advice is backed up by Deity, followed with an offer of reward if we believe it, and a threat of dire punishment if we do not, the Self-appointed Superior Class has driven men wheresoever it willed. The evolution of formal religions is not a complex process, and the fact that they embody these two unmixable things, dogma and morality, is a very plain and simple truth, easily seen, undisputed by all reasonable men. And be it said that the morality of most religions is good. Love, truth, charity, justice and gentleness are taught in them all. But, like a rule in Greek grammar, there are many exceptions. And so in the morality of religions there are exceptional instances that constantly arise where love, truth, charity, gentleness and justice are waived on suggestion of the Superior Class, that good may follow. Were it not for these exceptions there would be no wars between Christian nations.
The question of how to express your life will probably never down, for the reason that men vary in temperament and inclination. Some men have no capacity for certain sins of the flesh; others there be, who, having lost their inclination for sensuality through too much indulgence, turn ascetics. Yet all sermons have but one theme: how shall life be expressed? Between asceticism and indulgence men and races swing.
Asceticism in our day finds an interesting manifestation in the Trappists, who live on a mountain top, nearly inaccessible, and deprive themselves of almost every vestige of bodily comfort, going without food for days, wearing uncomfortable garments, suffering severe cold; and should one of this community look upon the face of a woman he would think he was in instant danger of damnation. So here we find the extreme instance of men repressing the faculties of the body in order that the spirit may find ample time and opportunity for exercise.
Somewhere between this extreme repression of the monk and the license of the sensualist lies the truth. But just where is the great question; and the desire of one person, who thinks he has discovered the norm, to compel all other men to stop there, has led to war and strife untold. All law centers around this point—what shall men be allowed to do? And so we find statutes to punish "strolling play actors," "players on fiddles," "disturbers of the public conscience," "persons who dance wantonly," "blasphemers," and in England there were, in the year 1800, thirty-seven offenses that were legally punishable by death. What expression is right and what is not, is simply a matter of opinion. One religious denomination that now exists does not allow singing; instrumental music has been to some a rock of offense, exciting the spirit through the sense of hearing, to improper thoughts—"through the lascivious pleasing of the lute"; others think dancing wicked, while a few allow pipe-organ music, but draw the line at the violin; while still others use a whole orchestra in their religious service. Some there be who regard pictures as implements of idolatry; while the Hook-and-Eye Baptists look upon buttons as immoral.
Strange evolutions are often witnessed within the life of one individual. For instance, Leo Tolstoy, a great and good man, at one time a sensualist, has now turned ascetic; a common evolution in the lives of the saints. But excellent as this man is, there is yet a grave imperfection in his cosmos which to a degree vitiates the truth he desires to teach: he leaves the element of beauty out of his formula. Not caring for harmony as set forth in color, form and sweet sounds, he is quite willing to deny all others these things which minister to their well-being. There is in most souls a hunger for beauty, just as there is physical hunger. Beauty speaks to their spirits through the senses; but Tolstoy would have your house barren to the verge of hardship. My veneration for Count Tolstoy is profound, yet I mention him here to show the grave danger that lies in allowing any man, even one of the wisest of men, to dictate to us what is best. We ourselves are the better judges. Most of the frightful cruelties inflicted on men during the past have arisen simply out of a difference of opinion that arose through a difference in temperament. The question is as alive to-day as it was two thousand years ago—what expression is best? That is, what shall we do to be saved? And concrete absurdity consists in saying that we must all do the same thing. Whether the race will ever grow to a point where men will be willing to leave the matter of life-expression to the individual is a question; but the millennium will never arrive until men cease trying to compel all other men to live after one pattern.
Most people are anxious to do what is best for themselves and least harmful for others. The average man now has intelligence enough: Utopia is not far off, if the self-appointed folk who rule us, and teach us for a consideration, would only be willing to do unto others as they would be done by, that is to say, mind their own business and cease coveting things that belong to other people. War among nations and strife among individuals is a result of the covetous spirit to possess.
A little more patience, a little more charity for all, a little more love; with less bowing down to the past, and the silent ignoring of pretended authority; a brave looking forward to the future, with more self-confidence and more faith in our fellow men, and the race will be ripe for a great burst of life and light.
Time and Chance
As the subject is somewhat complex, I will have to explain it to you. The first point is that there is not so very much difference in the intelligence of people after all. The great man is not so great as folks think, and the dull man is not quite so stupid as he seems. The difference in our estimates of men lies in the fact that one individual is able to get his goods into the show-window, and the other is not aware that he has any show-window or any goods.
"The soul knows all things, and knowledge is only a remembering," says Emerson.
This seems a very broad statement; and yet the fact remains that the vast majority of men know a thousand times as much as they are aware of. Far down in the silent depths of subconsciousness lie myriads of truths, each awaiting a time when its owner shall call it forth. To utilize these stored-up thoughts, you must express them to others; and to be able to express them well your soul has to soar into this subconscious realm where you have cached these net results of experience. In other words, you must "come out"—get out of self—away from self-consciousness, into the region of partial oblivion—away from the boundaries of time and the limitations of space. The great painter forgets all in the presence of his canvas; the writer is oblivious to his surroundings; the singer floats away on the wings of melody (and carries the audience with her); the orator pours out his soul for an hour, and it seems to him as if barely five minutes had passed, so rapt is he in his exalted theme. When you reach the heights of sublimity and are expressing your highest and best, you are in a partial trance condition. And all men who enter this condition surprise themselves by the quantity of knowledge and the extent of insight they possess. And some going a little deeper than others into this trance condition, and having no knowledge of the miraculous storing up of truth in the subconscious cells, jump to the conclusion that their intelligence is guided by a spirit not theirs. When one reaches this conclusion he begins to wither at the top, for he relies on the dead, and ceases to feed the well-springs of his subconscious self.
The mind is a dual affair—objective and subjective. The objective mind sees all, hears all, reasons things out. The subjective mind stores up and only gives out when the objective mind sleeps. And as few men ever cultivate the absorbed, reflective or semi-trance state, where the objective mind rests, they never really call on their subconscious treasury for its stores. They are always self-conscious.
A man in commerce, where men prey on their kind, must be alive and alert to what is going on, or while he dreams, his competitor will seize upon his birthright. And so you see why poets are poor and artists often beg.
And the summing up of this sermonette is that all men are equally rich, only some thru fate are able to muster their mental legions on the plains of their being and count them, while others are never able to do so.
But what think you is necessary before a person can come into full possession of his subconscious treasures? Well, I'll tell you: It is not ease, nor prosperity, nor requited love, nor worldly security—not these.
"You sing well," said the master, impatiently, to his best pupil, "but you will never sing divinely until you have given your all for love, and then been neglected and rejected, and scorned and beaten, and left for dead. Then, if you do not exactly die, you will come back, and when the world hears your voice it will mistake you for an angel and fall at your feet."
And the moral is, that as long as you are satisfied and comfortable, you use only the objective mind and live in the world of sense. But let love be torn from your grasp and flee as a shadow—living only as a memory in a haunting sense of loss; let death come and the sky shut down over less worth in the world; or stupid misunderstanding and crushing defeat grind you into the dust, then you may arise, forgetting time and space and self, and take refuge in mansions not made with hands; and find a certain sad, sweet satisfaction in the contemplation of treasures stored up where moth and rust do not corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.
And thus looking out into the Eternal, you entirely forget the present and go forth into the Land of Subconsciousness—the Land of Spirit, where yet dwell the gods of ancient and innocent days? Is it worth the cost?
Psychology of a Religious Revival
Traveling to and fro over the land and up and down in it are men who manage street-fairs.
Let it be known that a street-fair or Mardi Gras is never a spontaneous expression of the carnival spirit on the part of the townspeople. These festivals are a business—carefully planned, well advertised and carried out with much astuteness.
The men who manage street-fairs send advance agents, to make arrangements with the local merchants of the place—these secure the legal permits that are necessary.
A week is set apart for the carnival, much advertising is done, the newspapers, reflecting the will of the many, devote pages to the wonderful things that will happen. The shows arrive—the touters, the spielers, the clowns, the tumblers, the girls in tights, the singers! The bands play—the carnival is on! The object of the fair is to boom the business of the town. The object of the professional managers of the fair is to make money for themselves, and this they do thru the guaranty of the merchants, or a percentage on concessions, or both.
I am told that no town whose business is on an absolutely safe and secure footing ever resorts to a street-fair. The street-fair comes in when a rival town seems to be getting more than its share of the trade. When the business of Skaneateles is drifting to Waterloo, then Skaneateles succumbs to a street-fair.
Sanitation, sewerage, good water supply, and schoolhouses and paved streets are not the result of throwing confetti, tooting tin horns and waiving the curfew law.
Whether commerce is effectually helped by the street-fair, or a town assisted to get on a firm financial basis through the ministry of the tom-tom, is a problem. I leave the question with students of political economy and pass on to a local condition which is not a theory. The religious revivals that have recently been conducted in various parts of the country were most carefully planned business schemes. One F. Wilbur Chapman and his corps of well-trained associates may be taken as a type of the individuals who work up local religious excitement for a consideration.
Religious revivals are managed very much as are street-fairs. If religion is getting at a low ebb in your town, you can hire Chapman, the revivalist, just as you can secure the services of Farley, the strike-breaker. Chapman and his helpers go from town to town and from city to city and work up this excitation as a business. They are paid for their services a thousand dollars a week, or down to what they can get from collections. Sometimes they work on a guaranty, and at other times on a percentage or contingent fee, or both.
Towns especially in need of Mr. Chapman's assistance will please send for circulars, terms and testimonials. No souls saved—no pay.
The basic element of the revival is hypnotism. The scheme of bringing about the hypnosis, or the obfuscation of the intellect, has taken generations to carefully perfect. The plan is first to depress the spirit to a point where the subject is incapable of independent thought. Mournful music, a monotonous voice of woe, tearful appeals to God, dreary groans, the whole mingled with pious ejaculations, all tend to produce a terrifying effect upon the auditor. The thought of God's displeasure is constantly dwelt upon—the idea of guilt, death and eternal torment. If the victims can be made to indulge in hysterical laughter occasionally, the control is better brought about. No chance is allowed for repose, poise or sane consideration. When the time seems ripe a general promise of joy is made and the music takes an adagio turn. The speaker's voice now tells of triumph—offers of forgiveness are tendered, and then the promise of eternal life.
The final intent is to get the victim on his feet and make him come forward and acknowledge the fetich. This once done the convert finds himself among pleasant companions. His social station is improved—people shake hands with him and solicitously ask after his welfare. His approbativeness is appealed to—his position is now one of importance. And moreover, he is given to understand in many subtile ways that as he will be damned in another world if he does not acquiesce in the fetich, so also will he be damned financially and socially here if he does not join the church. The intent in every Christian community is to boycott and make a social outcast of the independent thinker. The fetich furnishes excuse for the hypnotic processes. Without assuming a personal God who can be appeased, eternal damnation and the proposition that you can win eternal life by believing a myth, there is no sane reason for the absurd hypnotic formulas.
We are heirs to the past, its good and ill, and we all have a touch of superstition, like a syphilitic taint. To eradicate this tyranny of fear and get the cringe and crawl out of our natures, seems the one desirable thing to lofty minds. But the revivalist, knowing human nature, as all confidence men do, banks on our superstitious fears and makes his appeal to our acquisitiveness, offering us absolution and life eternal for a consideration—to cover expenses. As long as men are paid honors and money, can wear good clothes, and be immune from work for preaching superstition, they will preach it. The hope of the world lies in withholding supplies from the pious mendicants who seek to hold our minds in thrall.
This idea of a divine bankrupt court where you can get forgiveness by paying ten cents on the dollar, with the guaranty of becoming a winged pauper of the skies, is not alluring excepting to a man who has been well scared. Advance agents pave the way for revivalists by arranging details with the local orthodox clergy. Universalists, Unitarians, Christian Scientists and Befaymillites are all studiously avoided. The object is to fill depleted pews of orthodox Protestant churches—these pay the freight, and to the victor belong the spoils. The plot and plan is to stampede into the pen of orthodoxy the intellectual unwary—children and neurotic grown-ups. The cap-and-bells element is largely represented in Chapman's select company of German-American talent: the confetti of foolishness is thrown at us—we dodge, laugh, listen and no one has time to think, weigh, sift or analyze. There are the boom of rhetoric, the crack of confession, the interspersed rebel-yell of triumph, the groans of despair, the cries of victory. Then come songs by paid singers, the pealing of the organ—rise and sing, kneel and pray, entreaty, condemnation, misery, tears, threats, promise, joy, happiness, heaven, eternal bliss, decide now—not a moment is to be lost, whoop-la you'll be a long time in hell!
All this whirl is a carefully prepared plan, worked out by expert flim-flammers to addle the reason, scramble intellect and make of men drooling derelicts.
I'll tell you—that Doctor Chapman and his professional rooters may roll in cheap honors, be immune from all useful labor and wax fat on the pay of those who work. Second, that the orthodox churches may not advance into workshops and schoolhouses, but may remain forever the home of a superstition. One would think that the promise of making a person exempt from the results of his own misdeeds, would turn the man of brains from these religious shell-men in disgust. But under their hypnotic spell, the minds of many seem to suffer an obsession, and they are caught in the swirl of foolish feeling, like a grocer's clerk in the hands of a mesmerist.
At Northfield, Massachusetts, is a college at which men are taught and trained, just as men are drilled at a Tonsorial College, in every phase of this pleasing episcopopography.
There is a good fellow by the suggestive name of Sunday who works the religious graft. Sunday is the whirling dervish up to date. He and Chapman and their cappers purposely avoid any trace of the ecclesiastic in their attire. They dress like drummers—trousers carefully creased, two watch-chains and a warm vest. Their manner is free and easy, their attitude familiar. The way they address the Almighty reveals that their reverence for Him springs out of the supposition that He is very much like themselves.
The indelicacy of the revivalists who recently called meetings to pray for Fay Mills, was shown in their ardent supplications to God that He should make Mills to be like them. Fay Mills tells of the best way to use this life here and now. He does not prophesy what will become of you if you do not accept his belief, neither does he promise everlasting life as a reward for thinking as he does. He realizes that he has not the agency of everlasting life. Fay Mills is more interested in having a soul that is worth saving than in saving a soul that isn't. Chapman talks about lost souls as he might about collar buttons lost under a bureau, just as if God ever misplaced anything, or that all souls were not God's souls, and therefore forever in His keeping.
Doctor Chapman wants all men to act alike and believe alike, not realizing that progress is the result of individuality, and so long as a man thinks, whether he is right or wrong, he is making head. Neither does he realize that wrong thinking is better than no thinking at all, and that the only damnation consists in ceasing to think, and accepting the conclusions of another. Final truths and final conclusions are wholly unthinkable to sensible people in their sane moments, but these revivalists wish to sum up truth for all time and put their leaden seal upon it.
In Los Angeles is a preacher by the name of McIntyre, a type of the blatant Bellarmine who exiled Galileo—a man who never doubts his own infallibility, who talks like an oracle and continually tells of perdition for all who disagree with him.
Needless to say that McIntyre lacks humor. Personally, I prefer the McGregors, but in Los Angeles the McIntyres are popular. It was McIntyre who called a meeting to pray for Fay Mills, and in proposing the meeting McIntyre made the unblushing announcement that he had never met Mills nor heard him speak, nor had he read one of his books.
Chapman and McIntyre represent the modern types of Phariseeism—spielers and spouters for churchianity, and such are the men who make superstition of so long life. Superstition is the one Infamy—Voltaire was right. To pretend to believe a thing at which your reason revolts—to stultify your intellect—this, if it exists at all, is the unpardonable sin. These muftis preach "the blood of Jesus," the dogma that man without a belief in miracles is eternally lost, that everlasting life depends upon acknowledging this, that or the other. Self-reliance, self-control and self-respect are the three things that make a man a man.
But man has so recently taken on this ability to think, that he has not yet gotten used to handling it. The tool is cumbrous in his hands. He is afraid of it—this one characteristic that differentiates him from the lower animals—so he abdicates and turns his divine birthright over to a syndicate. This combination called a church agrees to take care of his doubts and fears and do his thinking for him, and to help matters along he is assured that he is not fit to think for himself, and to do so would be a sin. Man, in his present crude state, holds somewhat the same attitude toward reason that an Apache Indian holds toward a camera—the Indian thinks that to have his picture taken means that he will shrivel up and blow away in a month. And Stanley relates that a watch with its constant ticking sent the bravest of Congo chiefs into a cold sweat of agonizing fear; on discovering which, the explorer had but to draw his Waterbury and threaten to turn the whole bunch into crocodiles, and at once they got busy and did his bidding. Stanley exhibited the true Northfield-revival quality in banking on the superstition of his wavering and frightened followers.
The revival meetin' is an orgie of the soul, a spiritual debauch—a dropping from sane and sensible control into eroticism. No person of normal intelligence can afford to throw the reins of reason on the neck of emotion and ride a Tam O'Shanter race to Bedlam. This hysteria of the uncurbed feelings is the only blasphemy, and if there were a personal God, He surely would be grieved to see that we have so absurd an idea of Him, as to imagine He would be pleased with our deporting the divine gift of reason into the hell-box.
Revivalism works up the voltage, then makes no use of the current—the wire is grounded. Let any one of these revivalists write out his sermons and print them in a book, and no sane man could read them without danger of paresis. The book would lack synthesis, defy analysis, puzzle the brain and paralyze the will. There would not be enough attic salt in it to save it. It would be the supernaculum of the commonplace, and prove the author to be the lobscouse of literature, the loblolly of letters. The churches want to enroll members, and so desperate is the situation that they are willing to get them at the price of self-respect. Hence come Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Chapman, and play Svengali to our Trilby. These gentlemen use the methods and the tricks of the auctioneer—the blandishments of the bookmaker—the sleek, smooth ways of the professional spieler.
With this troupe of Christian clowns is one Chaeffer, who is a specialist with children. He has meetings for boys and girls only, where he plays tricks, grimaces, tells stories and gets his little hearers laughing, and thus having found an entrance into their hearts, he suddenly reverses the lever, and has them crying. He talks to these little innocents about sin, the wrath of God, the death of Christ, and offers them a choice between everlasting life and eternal death. To the person who knows and loves children—who has studied the gentle ways of Froebel—this excitement is vicious, concrete cruelty. Weakened vitality follows close upon overwrought nerves, and every excess has its penalty—the pendulum swings as far this way as it does that.
These reverend gentlemen bray it into the ears of innocent little children that they were born in iniquity, and in sin did their mothers conceive them; that the souls of all children over nine years (why nine?) are lost, and the only way they can hope for heaven is through a belief in a barbaric blood bamboozle, that men of intelligence have long since discarded. And all this in the name of the gentle Christ, who took little children in his arms and said, "Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
This pagan proposition of being born in sin is pollution to the mind of a child, and causes misery, unrest and heartache incomputable. A few years ago we were congratulating ourselves that the devil at last was dead, and that the tears of pity had put out the fires of hell, but the serpent of superstition was only slightly scotched, not killed.
The intent of the religious revival is dual: first, the claim is that conversion makes men lead better lives; second, it saves their souls from endless death or everlasting hell.
To make men lead beautiful lives is excellent, but the Reverend Doctor Chapman, nor any of his colleagues, nor the denominations that they represent, will for an instant admit that the fact of a man living a beautiful life will save his soul alive In fact, Doctor Chapman, Doctor Torrey and Doctor Sunday, backed by the Reverend Doctor McIntyre, repeatedly warn their hearers of the danger of a morality that is not accompanied by a belief in the "blood of Jesus."
So the beautiful life they talk of is the bait that covers the hook for gudgeons. You have to accept the superstition, or your beautiful life to them is a byword and a hissing.
Hence, to them, superstition, and not conduct, is the vital thing.
If such a belief is not fanaticism then have I read Webster's Unabridged Dictionary in vain. Belief in superstition makes no man kinder, gentler, more useful to himself or society. He can have all the virtues without the fetich, and he may have the fetich and all the vices beside. Morality is really not controlled at all by religion—if statistics of reform schools and prisons are to be believed.
Fay Mills, according to Reverend Doctor McIntyre has all the virtues—he is forgiving, kind, gentle, modest, helpful. But Fay has abandoned the fetich—hence McIntyre and Chapman call upon the public to pray for Fay Mills. Mills had the virtues when he believed in the fetich—and now that he has disavowed the fetich, he still has the virtues, and in a degree he never before had. Even those who oppose him admit this, but still they declare that he is forever "lost."
Reverend Doctor Chaeffer says there are two kinds of habits—good and bad.
There are also two kinds of religion, good and bad. The religion of kindness, good cheer, helpfulness and useful effort is good. And on this point there is no dispute—it is admitted everywhere by every grade of intellect. But any form of religion that incorporates a belief in miracles and other barbaric superstitions, as a necessity to salvation, is not only bad, but very bad. And all men, if left alone long enough to think, know that salvation depends upon redemption from a belief in miracles. But the intent of Doctor Chapman and his theological rough riders is to stampede the herd and set it a milling. To rope the mavericks and place upon them the McIntyre brand is then quite easy.
As for the reaction and the cleaning up after the carnival, our revivalists are not concerned. The confetti, collapsed balloons and peanut shucks are the net assets of the revival—and these are left for the local managers.
Revivals are for the revivalists, and some fine morning these revival towns will arise, rub their sleepy eyes, and Chapman will be but a bad taste in the mouth, and Sunday, Chaeffer, Torrey, Biederwolf and Company, a troubled dream. To preach hagiology to civilized people is a lapse that Nemesis will not overlook. America stands for the Twentieth Century, and if in a moment of weakness she slips back to the exuberant folly of the frenzied piety of the Sixteenth, she must pay the penalty. Two things man will have to do—get free from the bondage of other men; and second, liberate himself from the phantoms of his own mind. On neither of these points does the revivalist help or aid in any way. Effervescence is not character and every debauch must be paid for in vitality and self-respect.
All formal organized religions through which the promoters and managers thrive are bad, but some are worse than others. The more superstition a religion has, the worse it is. Usually religions are made up of morality and superstition. Pure superstition alone would be revolting—in our day it would attract nobody—so the idea is introduced that morality and religion are inseparable. I am against the men who pretend to believe that ethics without a fetich is vain and useless.
The preachers who preach the beauty of truth, honesty and a useful, helpful life, I am with, head, heart and hand.
The preachers who declare that there can be no such thing as a beautiful life unless it will accept superstition, I am against, tooth, claw, club, tongue and pen. Down with the Infamy! I prophesy a day when business and education will be synonymous—when commerce and college will join hands—when the preparation for life will be to go to work.
As long as trade was trickery, business barter, commerce finesse, government exploitation, slaughter honorable, and murder a fine art; when religion was ignorant superstition, piety the worship of a fetich and education a clutch for honors, there was small hope for the race. Under these conditions everything tended towards division, dissipation, disintegration, separation—darkness, death.
But with the supremacy gained by science, the introduction of the one-price system in business, and the gradually growing conviction that honesty is man's most valuable asset, we behold light at the end of the tunnel.
It only remains now for the laity to drive conviction home upon the clergy, and prove to them that pretence has its penalty, and to bring to the mourners' bench that trinity of offenders, somewhat ironically designated as the Three Learned Professions, and mankind will be well out upon the broad highway, the towering domes of the Ideal City in sight.
Every successful concern is the result of a One-Man Power. Cooeperation, technically, is an iridescent dream—things cooeperate because the man makes them. He cements them by his will.
But find this Man, and get his confidence, and his weary eyes will look into yours and the cry of his heart shall echo in your ears. "O, for some one to help me bear this burden!"
Then he will tell you of his endless search for Ability, and of his continual disappointments and thwartings in trying to get some one to help himself by helping him.
Ability is the one crying need of the hour. The banks are bulging with money, and everywhere are men looking for work. The harvest is ripe. But the Ability to captain the unemployed and utilize the capital, is lacking—sadly lacking. In every city there are many five- and ten-thousand-dollar-a-year positions to be filled, but the only applicants are men who want jobs at fifteen dollars a week. Your man of Ability has a place already. Yes, Ability is a rare article.
But there is something that is much scarcer, something finer far, something rarer than this quality of Ability.
It is the ability to recognize Ability.
The sternest comment that ever can be made against employers as a class, lies in the fact that men of Ability usually succeed in showing their worth in spite of their employer, and not with his assistance and encouragement.
If you know the lives of men of Ability, you know that they discovered their power, almost without exception, thru chance or accident. Had the accident not occurred that made the opportunity, the man would have remained unknown and practically lost to the world. The experience of Tom Potter, telegraph operator at an obscure little way station, is truth painted large. That fearful night, when most of the wires were down and a passenger train went through the bridge, gave Tom Potter the opportunity of discovering himself. He took charge of the dead, cared for the wounded, settled fifty claims—drawing drafts on the company—burned the last vestige of the wreck, sunk the waste iron in the river and repaired the bridge before the arrival of the Superintendent on the spot.
"Who gave you the authority to do all this?" demanded the Superintendent.
"Nobody," replied Tom, "I assumed the authority."
The next month Tom Potter's salary was five thousand dollars a year, and in three years he was making ten times this, simply because he could get other men to do things.
Why wait for an accident to discover Tom Potter? Let us set traps for Tom Potter, and lie in wait for him. Perhaps Tom Potter is just around the corner, across the street, in the next room, or at our elbow. Myriads of embryonic Tom Potters await discovery and development if we but look for them.
I know a man who roamed the woods and fields for thirty years and never found an Indian arrow. One day he began to think "arrow," and stepping out of his doorway he picked one up. Since then he has collected a bushel of them.
Suppose we cease wailing about incompetence, sleepy indifference and slipshod "help" that watches the clock. These things exist—let us dispose of the subject by admitting it, and then emphasize the fact that freckled farmer boys come out of the West and East and often go to the front and do things in a masterly way. There is one name that stands out in history like a beacon light after all these twenty-five hundred years have passed, just because the man had the sublime genius of discovering Ability. That man is Pericles. Pericles made Athens.
And to-day the very dust of the streets of Athens is being sifted and searched for relics and remnants of the things made by people who were captained by men of Ability who were discovered by Pericles.
There is very little competition in this line of discovering Ability. We sit down and wail because Ability does not come our way. Let us think "Ability," and possibly we can jostle Pericles there on his pedestal, where he has stood for over a score of centuries—the man with a supreme genius for recognizing Ability. Hail to thee, Pericles, and hail to thee, Great Unknown, who shall be the first to successfully imitate this captain of men.
Success is in the blood. There are men whom fate can never keep down—they march forward in a jaunty manner, and take by divine right the best of everything that the earth affords. But their success is not attained by means of the Samuel Smiles-Connecticut policy. They do not lie in wait, nor scheme, nor fawn, nor seek to adapt their sails to catch the breeze of popular favor. Still, they are ever alert and alive to any good that may come their way, and when it comes they simply appropriate it, and tarrying not, move steadily on.
Good health! Whenever you go out of doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every hand-clasp.
Do not fear being misunderstood; and never waste a moment thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your own mind what you would like to do, and then without violence of direction you will move straight to the goal.
Fear is the rock on which we split, and hate the shoal on which many a barque is stranded. When we become fearful, the judgment is as unreliable as the compass of a ship whose hold is full of iron ore; when we hate, we have unshipped the rudder; and if ever we stop to meditate on what the gossips say, we have allowed a hawser to foul the screw.
Keep your mind on the great and splendid thing you would like to do; and then, as the days go gliding by, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the elements that it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought that you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual you so admire.
Thought is supreme, and to think is often better than to do.
Preserve a right mental attitude—the attitude of courage, frankness and good cheer.
Darwin and Spencer have told us that this is the method of Creation. Each animal has evolved the parts it needed and desired. The horse is fleet because he wishes to be; the bird flies because it desires to; the duck has a web foot because it wants to swim. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed.
Many people know this, but they do not know it thoroughly enough so that it shapes their lives. We want friends, so we scheme and chase 'cross lots after strong people, and lie in wait for good folks—or alleged good folks—hoping to be able to attach ourselves to them. The only way to secure friends is to be one. And before you are fit for friendship you must be able to do without it. That is to say, you must have sufficient self-reliance to take care of yourself, and then out of the surplus of your energy you can do for others.
The individual who craves friendship, and yet desires a self-centered spirit more, will never lack for friends.
If you would have friends, cultivate solitude instead of society. Drink in the ozone; bathe in the sunshine; and out in the silent night, under the stars, say to yourself again and yet again, "I am a part of all my eyes behold!" And the feeling then will come to you that you are no mere interloper between earth and heaven; but you are a necessary part of the whole. No harm can come to you that does not come to all, and if you shall go down it can only be amid a wreck of worlds.
Like old Job, that which we fear will surely come upon us. By a wrong mental attitude we have set in motion a train of events that ends in disaster. People who die in middle life from disease, almost without exception, are those who have been preparing for death. The acute tragic condition is simply the result of a chronic state of mind—a culmination of a series of events.
Character is the result of two things, mental attitude, and the way we spend our time. It is what we think and what we do that make us what we are.
By laying hold on the forces of the universe, you are strong with them. And when you realize this, all else is easy, for in your arteries will course red corpuscles, and in your heart the determined resolution is born to do and to be. Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the chrysalis.
When I was a farmer lad I noticed that whenever we bought a new cow, and turned her into the pasture with the herd, there was a general inclination on the part of the rest to make the new cow think she had landed in the orthodox perdition. They would hook her away from the salt, chase her from the water, and the long-horned ones, for several weeks, would lose no opportunity to give her vigorous digs, pokes and prods.
With horses it was the same. And I remember one particular little black mare that we boys used to transfer from one pasture to another, just to see her back into a herd of horses and hear her hoofs play a resounding solo on their ribs as they gathered round to do her mischief.
Men are animals just as much as are cows, horses and pigs; and they manifest similar proclivities. The introduction of a new man into an institution always causes a small panic of resentment, especially if he be a person of some power. Even in schools and colleges the new teacher has to fight his way to overcome the opposition he is certain to meet.
In a lumber camp, the newcomer would do well to take the initiative, like that little black mare, and meet the first black look with a short-arm jab.
But in a bank, department store or railroad office this cannot be. So the next best thing is to endure, and win out by an attention to business to which the place is unaccustomed. In any event, the bigger the man, unless he has the absolute power to overawe everything, the more uncomfortable will be his position until gradually time smooths the way and new issues come up for criticism, opposition and resentment, and he is forgotten.
The idea of Civil Service Reform—promotion for the good men in your employ rather than hiring new ones for the big places—is a rule which looks well on paper but is a fatal policy if carried out to the letter.
The business that is not progressive is sowing the seeds of its own dissolution. Life is a movement forward, and all things in nature that are not evolving into something better are preparing to return into their constituent elements. One general rule for progress in big business concerns is the introduction of new blood. You must keep step with the business world. If you lag behind, the outlaws that hang on the flanks of commerce will cut you out and take you captive, just as the wolves lie in wait for the sick cow of the plains.
To keep your columns marching you must introduce new methods, new inspiration and seize upon the best that others have invented or discovered.
The great railroads of America have evolved together. No one of them has an appliance or a method that is much beyond the rest. If it were not for this interchange of men and ideas some railroads would still be using the link and pin, and snake-heads would be as common as in the year 1869.
The railroad manager who knows his business is ever on the lookout for excellence among his men, and he promotes those who give an undivided service. But besides this he hires a strong man occasionally from the outside and promotes him over everybody. Then out come the hammers!
But this makes but little difference to your competent manager—if a place is to be filled and he has no one on his payroll big enough to fill it, he hires an outsider.
That is right and well for every one concerned. The new life of many a firm dates from the day they hired a new man.
Communities that intermarry raise a fine crop of scrubs, and the result is the same in business ventures. Two of America's largest publishing houses failed for a tidy sum of five millions or so each, a few years ago, just thru a dogged policy, that extended over a period of fifty years, of promoting cousins, uncles and aunts whose only claim of efficiency was that they had been on the pension roll for a long time. This way lies dry-rot.
If you are a business man, and have a position of responsibility to be filled, look carefully among your old helpers for a man to promote. But if you haven't a man big enough to fill the place, do not put in a little one for the sake of peace. Go outside and find a man and hire him—never mind the salary if he can man the position—wages are always relative to earning power. This will be the only way you can really man your ship.
As for Civil Service Rules—rules are made to be broken. And as for the long-horned ones who will attempt to make life miserable for your new employe, be patient with them. It is the privilege of everybody to do a reasonable amount of kicking, especially if the person has been a long time with one concern and has received many benefits.
But if at the last, worst comes to worst, do not forget that you yourself are at the head of the concern. If it fails you get the blame. And should the anvil chorus become so persistent that there is danger of discord taking the place of harmony, stand by your new man, even tho it is necessary to give the blue envelope to every antediluvian. Precedence in business is a matter of power, and years in one position may mean that the man has been there so long that he needs a change. Let the zephyrs of natural law play freely thru your whiskers.
So here is the argument: promote your deserving men, but do not be afraid to hire a keen outsider; he helps everybody, even the kickers, for if you disintegrate and go down in defeat, the kickers will have to skirmish around for new jobs anyway. Isn't that so?
Get Out or Get in Line
Abraham Lincoln's letter to Hooker! If all the letters, messages and speeches of Lincoln were destroyed, except that one letter to Hooker, we still would have an excellent index to the heart of the Rail-Splitter.
In this letter we see that Lincoln ruled his own spirit; and we also behold the fact that he could rule others. The letter shows wise diplomacy, frankness, kindliness, wit, tact and infinite patience. Hooker had harshly and unjustly criticised Lincoln, his commander in chief. But Lincoln waives all this in deference to the virtues he believes Hooker possesses, and promotes him to succeed Burnside. In other words, the man who had been wronged promotes the man who had wronged him, over the head of a man whom the promotee had wronged and for whom the promoter had a warm personal friendship.
But all personal considerations were sunk in view of the end desired. Yet it was necessary that the man promoted should know the truth, and Lincoln told it to him in a way that did not humiliate nor fire to foolish anger; but which surely prevented the attack of cerebral elephantiasis to which Hooker was liable.
Perhaps we had better give the letter entire, and so here it is:
Executive Mansion, Washington, January 26, 1863.
General:—I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course, I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you.
I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your position, in which you are right.
You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable if not an indispensable quality.
You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside's command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer.
I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the army and the government needed a dictator. Of course, it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit you have aided to infuse into the army, of criticising their commander and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it. And now beware of rashness, but with sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.
Yours very truly, A. LINCOLN.
One point in this letter is especially worth our consideration, for it suggests a condition that springs up like deadly nightshade from a poisonous soil. I refer to the habit of carping, sneering, grumbling and criticising those who are above us. The man who is anybody and who does anything is certainly going to be criticised, vilified and misunderstood. This is a part of the penalty for greatness, and every great man understands it; and understands, too, that it is no proof of greatness. The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure contumely without resentment. Lincoln did not resent criticism; he knew that every life was its own excuse for being, but look how he calls Hooker's attention to the fact that the dissension Hooker has sown is going to return and plague him! "Neither you, nor Napoleon, if he were alive, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it." Hooker's fault falls on Hooker—others suffer, but Hooker suffers most of all.
Not long ago I met a Yale student home on a vacation. I am sure he did not represent the true Yale spirit, for he was full of criticism and bitterness toward the institution. President Hadley came in for his share, and I was given items, facts, data, with times and places, for a "peach of a roast."
Very soon I saw the trouble was not with Yale, the trouble was with the young man. He had mentally dwelt on some trivial slights until he had gotten so out of harmony with the place that he had lost the power to derive any benefit from it. Yale college is not a perfect institution—a fact, I suppose, that President Hadley and most Yale men are quite willing to admit; but Yale does supply young men certain advantages, and it depends upon the students whether they will avail themselves of these advantages or not. If you are a student in college, seize upon the good that is there. You receive good by giving it. You gain by giving—so give sympathy and cheerful loyalty to the institution. Be proud of it. Stand by your teachers—they are doing the best they can. If the place is faulty, make it a better place by an example of cheerfully doing your work every day the best you can. Mind your own business.
If the concern where you are employed is all wrong, and the Old Man is a curmudgeon, it may be well for you to go to the Old Man and confidentially, quietly and kindly tell him that his policy is absurd and preposterous. Then show him how to reform his ways, and you might offer to take charge of the concern and cleanse it of its secret faults. Do this, or if for any reason you should prefer not, then take your choice of these: Get Out, or Get in Line. You have got to do one or the other—now make your choice. If you work for a man, in heaven's name work for him.
If he pays you wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him—speak well of him, think well of him, stand by him and stand by the institution that he represents.
I think if I worked for a man, I would work for him. I would not work for him a part of the time, and the rest of the time work against him. I would give an undivided service or none. If put to the pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.
If you must vilify, condemn and eternally disparage, why, resign your position, and then when you are outside, damn to your heart's content. But I pray you, as long as you are a part of an institution, do not condemn it. Not that you will injure the institution—not that—but when you disparage a concern of which you are a part, you disparage yourself.
More than that, you are loosening the tendrils that hold you to the institution, and the first high wind that happens along, you will be uprooted and blown away in the blizzard's track—and probably you will never know why. The letter only says, "Times are dull and we regret there is not enough work," et cetera.
Everywhere you will find these out-of-a-job fellows. Talk with them and you will find that they are full of railing, bitterness, scorn and condemnation. That was the trouble—thru a spirit of fault-finding they got themselves swung around so they blocked the channel, and had to be dynamited. They were out of harmony with the place, and no longer being a help they had to be removed. Every employer is constantly looking for people who can help him; naturally he is on the lookout among his employees for those who do not help, and everything and everybody that is a hindrance has to go. This is the law of trade—do not find fault with it; it is founded on nature. The reward is only for the man who helps, and in order to help you must have sympathy.
You cannot help the Old Man so long as you are explaining in an undertone and whisper, by gesture and suggestion, by thought and mental attitude that he is a curmudgeon and that his system is dead wrong. You are not necessarily menacing him by stirring up this cauldron of discontent and warming envy into strife, but you are doing this: you are getting yourself on a well-greased chute that will give you a quick ride down and out. When you say to other employees that the Old Man is a curmudgeon, you reveal the fact that you are one; and when you tell them that the policy of the institution is "rotten," you certainly show that yours is.
This bad habit of fault-finding, criticising and complaining is a tool that grows keener by constant use, and there is grave danger that he who at first is only a moderate kicker may develop into a chronic knocker, and the knife he has sharpened will sever his head.
Hooker got his promotion even in spite of his many failings; but the chances are that your employer does not have the love that Lincoln had—the love that suffereth long and is kind. But even Lincoln could not protect Hooker forever. Hooker failed to do the work, and Lincoln had to try some one else. So there came a time when Hooker was superseded by a Silent Man, who criticised no one, railed at nobody—not even the enemy.
And this Silent Man, who could rule his own spirit, took the cities. He minded his own business, and did the work that no man can ever do unless he constantly gives absolute loyalty, perfect confidence, unswerving fidelity and untiring devotion. Let us mind our own business, and allow others to mind theirs, thus working for self by working for the good of all.
The Week-Day, Keep it Holy
Did it ever strike you that it is a most absurd and semi-barbaric thing to set one day apart as "holy?"
If you are a writer and a beautiful thought comes to you, you never hesitate because it is Sunday, but you write it down.
If you are a painter, and the picture appears before you, vivid and clear, you make haste to materialize it ere the vision fades.
If you are a musician, you sing a song, or play it on the piano, that it may be etched upon your memory—and for the joy of it.
But if you are a cabinet-maker, you may make a design, but you will have to halt before you make the table, if the day happens to be the "Lord's Day"; and if you are a blacksmith, you will not dare to lift a hammer, for fear of conscience or the police. All of which is an admission that we regard manual labor as a sort of necessary evil, and must be done only at certain times and places.
The orthodox reason for abstinence from all manual labor on Sunday is that "God made the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh He rested," therefore, man, created in the image of his Maker, should hold this day sacred. How it can be possible for a supreme, omnipotent and all-powerful being without "body, parts or passions" to become wearied thru physical exertion is a question that is as yet unanswered.
The idea of serving God on Sunday and then forgetting Him all the week is a fallacy that is fostered by the Reverend Doctor Sayles and his coadjutor, Deacon Buffum, who passes the Panama for the benefit of those who would buy absolution. Or, if you prefer, salvation being free, what we place in the Panama is an honorarium for Deity or his agent, just as our noted authors never speak at banquets for pay, but accept the honorarium that in some occult and mysterious manner is left on the mantel. Sunday, with its immunity from work, was devised for slaves who got out of all the work they could during the week.
Then, to tickle the approbativeness of the slave, it was declared a virtue not to work on Sunday, a most pleasing bit of Tom Sawyer diplomacy. By following his inclinations and doing nothing, a mysterious, skyey benefit accrues, which the lazy man hopes to have and to hold for eternity.
Then the slaves who do no work on Sunday, point out those who do as beneath them in virtue, and deserving of contempt. Upon this theory all laws which punish the person who works or plays on Sunday have been passed. Does God cease work one day in seven, or is the work that He does on Sunday especially different from that which He performs on Tuesday? The Saturday half-holiday is not "sacred"—the Sunday holiday is, and we have laws to punish those who "violate" it. No man can violate the Sabbath; he can, however, violate his own nature, and this he is more apt to do through enforced idleness than either work or play. Only running water is pure, and stagnant nature of any sort is dangerous—a breeding-place for disease.
Change of occupation is necessary to mental and physical health. As it is, most people get too much of one kind of work. All the week they are chained to a task, a repugnant task because the dose is too big. They have to do this particular job or starve. This is slavery, quite as much as when man was bought and sold as a chattel.
Will there not come a time when all men and women will work because it is a blessed gift—a privilege? Then, if all worked, wasteful consuming as a business would cease. As it is, there are many people who do not work at all, and these pride themselves upon it and uphold the Sunday laws. If the idlers would work, nobody would be overworked. If this time ever comes shall we not cease to regard it as "wicked" to work at certain times, just as much as we would count it absurd to pass a law making it illegal for us to be happy on Wednesday? Isn't good work an effort to produce a useful, necessary or beautiful thing? If so, good work is a prayer, prompted by a loving heart—a prayer to benefit and bless. If prayer is not a desire, backed up by a right human effort to bring about its efficacy, then what is it?
Work is a service performed for ourselves and others. If I love you I will surely work for you—in this way I reveal my love. And to manifest my love in this manner is a joy and gratification to me. Thus work is for the worker alone and labor is its own reward. These things being true, if it is wrong to work on Sunday, it is wrong to love on Sunday; every smile is a sin, every caress a curse, and all tenderness a crime.
Must there not come a time, if we grow in mentality and spirit, when we shall cease to differentiate and quit calling some work secular and some sacred? Isn't it as necessary for me to hoe corn and feed my loved ones (and also the priest) as for the priest to preach and pray? Would any priest ever preach and pray if somebody didn't hoe? If life is from God, then all useful effort is divine; and to work is the highest form of religion. If God made us, surely He is pleased to see that His work is a success. If we are miserable, willing to liberate life with a bare bodkin, we certainly do not compliment our Maker in thus proclaiming His work a failure. But if our lives are full of gladness and we are grateful for the feeling that we are one with Deity—helping God to do His work, then, and only then do we truly serve Him.
Isn't it strange that men should have made laws declaring that it is wicked for us to work?
An excellent and gentle man of my acquaintance has said, "When fifty-one per cent of the voters believe in cooeperation as opposed to competition, the Ideal Commonwealth will cease to be a theory and become a fact."
That men should work together for the good of all is very beautiful, and I believe the day will come when these things will be, but the simple process of fifty-one per cent of the voters casting ballots for socialism will not bring it about.
The matter of voting is simply the expression of a sentiment, and after the ballots have been counted there still remains the work to be done. A man might vote right and act like a fool the rest of the year.
The socialist who is full of bitterness, fight, faction and jealousy is creating an opposition that will hold him and all others like him in check. And this opposition is well, for even a very imperfect society is forced to protect itself against dissolution and a condition which is worse. To take over the monopolies and operate them for the good of society is not enough, and not desirable either, so long as the idea of rivalry is rife.
As long as self is uppermost in the minds of men, they will fear and hate other men, and under socialism there would be precisely the same scramble for place and power that we see in politics now.
Society can never be reconstructed until its individual members are reconstructed. Man must be born again. When fifty-one per cent of the voters rule their own spirit and have put fifty-one per cent of their present envy, jealousy, bitterness, hate, fear and foolish pride out of their hearts, then Christian socialism will be at hand, and not until then.
The subject is entirely too big to dispose of in a paragraph, so I am just going to content myself here with the mention of one thing, that so far as I know has never been mentioned in print—the danger to society of exclusive friendships between man and man, and woman and woman. No two persons of the same sex can complement each other, neither can they long uplift or benefit each other. Usually they deform the mental and spiritual estate. We should have many acquaintances or none. When two men begin to "tell each other everything," they are hiking for senility. There must be a bit of well-defined reserve. We are told that in matter—solid steel for instance—the molecules never touch. They never surrender their individuality. We are all molecules of Divinity, and our personality should not be abandoned. Be yourself, let no man be necessary to you—your friend will think more of you if you keep him at a little distance. Friendship, like credit, is highest where it is not used.
I can understand how a strong man can have a great and abiding affection for a thousand other men, and call them all by name, but how he can regard any one of these men much higher than another and preserve his mental balance, I do not know.
Let a man come close enough and he'll clutch you like a drowning person, and down you both go. In a close and exclusive friendship men partake of others' weaknesses.
In shops and factories it happens constantly that men will have their chums. These men relate to each other their troubles—they keep nothing back—they sympathize with each other, they mutually condole.
They combine and stand by each other. Their friendship is exclusive and others see that it is. Jealousy creeps in, suspicion awakens, hate crouches around the corner, and these men combine in mutual dislike for certain things and persons. They foment each other, and their sympathy dilutes sanity—by recognizing their troubles men make them real. Things get out of focus, and the sense of values is lost. By thinking some one is an enemy you evolve him into one.
Soon others are involved and we have a clique. A clique is a friendship gone to seed.
A clique develops into a faction, and a faction into a feud, and soon we have a mob, which is a blind, stupid, insane, crazy, ramping and roaring mass that has lost the rudder. In a mob there are no individuals—all are of one mind, and independent thought is gone.
A feud is founded on nothing—it is a mistake—a fool idea fanned into flame by a fool friend! And it may become a mob.
Every man who has had anything to do with communal life has noticed that the clique is the disintegrating bacillus—and the clique has its rise always in the exclusive friendship of two persons of the same sex, who tell each other all unkind things that are said of each other—"so be on your guard." Beware of the exclusive friendship! Respect all men and try to find the good in all. To associate only with the sociable, the witty, the wise, the brilliant, is a blunder—go among the plain, the stupid, the uneducated, and exercise your own wit and wisdom. You grow by giving—have no favorites—you hold your friend as much by keeping away from him as you do by following after him.
Revere him—yes, but be natural and let space intervene. Be a Divine molecule.
Be yourself and give your friend a chance to be himself. Thus do you benefit him, and in benefiting him you benefit yourself.
The finest friendships are between those who can do without each other.
Of course there have been cases of exclusive friendship that are pointed out to us as grand examples of affection, but they are so rare and exceptional that they serve to emphasize the fact that it is exceedingly unwise for men of ordinary power and intellect to exclude their fellow men. A few men, perhaps, who are big enough to have a place in history, could play the part of David to another's Jonathan and yet retain the good will of all, but the most of us would engender bitterness and strife.
And this beautiful dream of socialism, where each shall work for the good of all, will never come about until fifty-one per cent of the adults shall abandon all exclusive friendships. Until that day arrives you will have cliques, denominations—which are cliques grown big—factions, feuds and occasional mobs.
Do not lean on any one, and let no one lean on you. The ideal society will be made up of ideal individuals. Be a man and be a friend to everybody.
When the Master admonished his disciples to love their enemies, he had in mind the truth that an exclusive love is a mistake—love dies when it is monopolized—it grows by giving. Love, lim., is an error. Your enemy is one who misunderstands you—why should you not rise above the fog and see his error and respect him for the good qualities you find in him?
The Folly of Living in the Future
The question is often asked, "What becomes of all the Valedictorians and all the Class-Day Poets?"
I can give information as to two parties for whom this inquiry is made—the Valedictorian of my class is now a most industrious and worthy floor-walker in Siegel, Cooper & Company's store, and I was the Class-Day Poet. Both of us had our eyes fixed on the Goal. We stood on the Threshold and looked out upon the World preparatory to going forth, seizing it by the tail and snapping its head off for our own delectation.
We had our eyes fixed on the Goal—it might better have been the gaol.
It was a very absurd thing for us to fix our eyes on the Goal. It strained our vision and took our attention from our work. We lost our grip on the present.
To think of the Goal is to travel the distance over and over in your mind and dwell on how awfully far off it is. We have so little mind—doing business on such a limited capital of intellect—that to wear it threadbare looking for a far-off thing is to get hopelessly stranded in Siegel, Cooper & Company.
Of course, Siegel, Cooper & Company is all right, too, but the point is this—it wasn't the Goal!
A goodly dash of indifference is a requisite in the formula for doing a great work.
No one knows what the Goal is—we are all sailing under sealed orders.
Do your work to-day, doing it the best you can, and live one day at a time. The man that does this is conserving his God-given energy, and not spinning it out into tenuous spider threads so fragile and filmy that unkind Fate will probably brush it away.
To do your work well to-day, is the certain preparation for something better to-morrow. The past has gone from us forever; the future we cannot reach; the present alone is ours. Each day's work is a preparation for the next day's duties.
Live in the present—the Day is here, the time is Now.
There is only one thing that is worth praying for—that we may be in the line of Evolution.
The Spirit of Man
Maybe I am all wrong about it, yet I cannot help believing that the spirit of man will live again in a better world than ours. Fenelon says: "Justice demands another life to make good the inequalities of this." Astronomers prophesy the existence of stars long before they can see them. They know where they ought to be, and training their telescopes in that direction they wait, knowing they shall find them.
Materially, no one can imagine anything more beautiful than this earth, for the simple reason that we cannot imagine anything we have not seen; we may make new combinations, but the whole is made up of parts of things with which we are familiar. This great green earth out of which we have sprung, of which we are a part, that supports our bodies which must return to it to repay the loan, is very, very beautiful.
But the spirit of man is not fully at home here; as we grow in soul and intellect, we hear, and hear again, a voice which says: "Arise and get thee hence, for this is not thy rest." And the greater and nobler and more sublime the spirit, the more constant is the discontent. Discontent may come from various causes, so it will not do to assume that the discontented ones are always the pure in heart, but it is a fact that the wise and excellent have all known the meaning of world-weariness. The more you study and appreciate this life, the more sure you are that this is not all. You pillow your head upon Mother Earth, listen to her heart-throb, and even as your spirit is filled with the love of her, your gladness is half pain and there comes to you a joy that hurts. To look upon the most exalted forms of beauty, such as sunset at sea, the coming of a storm on the prairie, or the sublime majesty of the mountains, begets a sense of sadness, an increasing loneliness. It is not enough to say that man encroaches on man so that we are really deprived of our freedom, that civilization is caused by a bacillus, and that from a natural condition we have gotten into a hurly-burly where rivalry is rife—all this may be true, but beyond and outside of all this there is no physical environment in way of plenty which earth can supply, that will give the tired soul peace. They are the happiest who have the least; and the fable of the stricken king and the shirtless beggar contains the germ of truth. The wise hold all earthly ties very lightly—they are stripping for eternity.
World-weariness is only a desire for a better spiritual condition. There is more to be written on this subject of world-pain—to exhaust the theme would require a book. And certain it is that I have no wish to say the final word on any topic. The gentle reader has certain rights, and among these is the privilege of summing up the case.
But the fact holds that world-pain is a form of desire. All desires are just, proper and right; and their gratification is the means by which nature supplies us that which we need.
Desire not only causes us to seek that which we need, but is a form of attraction by which the good is brought to us, just as the amoebae create a swirl in the waters that brings their food within reach.
Every desire in nature has a fixed and definite purpose in the Divine Economy, and every desire has its proper gratification. If we desire the close friendship of a certain person, it is because that person has certain soul-qualities that we do not possess, and which complement our own.
Through desire do we come into possession of our own; by submitting to its beckonings we add cubits to our stature; and we also give out to others our own attributes, without becoming poorer, for soul is not limited. All nature is a symbol of spirit, and so I am forced to believe that somewhere there must be a proper gratification for this mysterious nostalgia of the soul.
The Valhalla of the Norseman, the Nirvana of the Hindu, the Heaven of the Christian are natural hopes of beings whose cares and disappointments here are softened by belief that somewhere, Thor, Brahma or God gives compensation.
The Eternal Unities require a condition where men and women shall be permitted to love and not to sorrow; where the tyranny of things hated shall not prevail, nor that for which the heart yearns turn to ashes at our touch.
Art and Religion
While this seems true in the main, I am not sure it will hold in every case. Please think it out for yourself, and if I happen to be wrong, why, put me straight.
The proposition is this: the artist needs no religion beyond his work. That is to say, art is religion to the man who thinks beautiful thoughts and expresses them for others the best he can. Religion is an emotional excitement whereby the devotee rises into a state of spiritual sublimity, and for the moment is bathed in an atmosphere of rest, and peace, and love. All normal men and women crave such periods; and Bernard Shaw says that we reach them through strong tea, tobacco, whiskey, opium, love, art or religion.
I think Bernard Shaw a cynic, but there is a glimmer of truth in his idea that makes it worth repeating. But beyond the natural religion, which is a passion for oneness with the Whole, all formalized religions engraft the element of fear, and teach the necessity of placating a Supreme Being. Our idea of a Supreme Being is suggested to us by the political government under which we live. The situation was summed up by Carlyle, when he said that Deity to the average British mind was simply an infinite George IV. The thought of God as a terrible Supreme Tyrant first found form in an unlimited monarchy; but as governments have become more lenient so have the gods, until you get them down (or up) to a republic, where God is only a president, and we all approach Him in familiar prayer, on an absolute equality.
Then soon, for the first time, we find man saying, "I am God, and you are God, and we are all simply particles of Him," and this is where the president is done away with, and the referendum comes in. But the absence of a supreme governing head implies simplicity, honesty, justice, and sincerity. Wherever plottings, schemings and doubtful methods of life are employed, a ruler is necessary; and there, too, religion, with its idea of placating God has a firm hold. Men whose lives are doubtful feel the need of a strong government and a hot religion. Formal religion and sin go hand in hand. Formal religion and slavery go hand in hand. Formal religion and tyranny go hand in hand. Formal religion and ignorance go hand in hand.
And sin, slavery, tyranny and ignorance are one—they are never separated.
Formal religion is a scheme whereby man hopes to make peace with his Maker; and a formal religion also tends to satisfy the sense of sublimity where the man has failed to find satisfaction in his work. Voltaire says, "When woman no longer finds herself acceptable to man, she turns to God," When man is no longer acceptable to himself he goes to church. In order to keep this article from extending itself into a tome, I purposely omitted saying a single thing about the Protestant Church as a useful Social Club and have just assumed for argument's sake that the church is really a religious institution.
A formal religion is only a cut 'cross lots—an attempt to bring about the emotions and the sensations that come to a man by the practice of love, virtue, excellence and truth. When you do a splendid piece of work and express your best, there comes to you, as reward, an exaltation of soul, a sublimity of feeling that puts you for the time being in touch with the Infinite. A formal religion brings this feeling without your doing anything useful, therefore it is unnatural.
Formalized religion is the strongest where sin, slavery, tyranny and ignorance abound. Where men are free, enlightened and at work, they find all the gratification in their work that their souls demand—they cease to hunt outside themselves for something to give them rest. They are at peace with themselves, at peace with man and with God.
But any man chained to a hopeless task, whose daily work does not express himself, who is dogged by a boss, whenever he gets a moment of respite turns to drink or religion.
Men with an eye on Saturday night, who plot to supplant some one else, who can locate an employer any hour of the day, who use their wit to evade labor, who think only of their summer vacation when they will no longer be compelled to work, are apt to be sticklers for Sabbath-keeping and church-going.
Gentlemen in business who give eleven for a dozen, and count thirty-four inches a yard, who are quick to foreclose a mortgage, and who say "business is business," generally are vestrymen, deacons and church trustees. Look about you! Predaceous real estate dealers who set nets for all the unwary, lawyers who lie in wait for their prey, merchant princes who grind their clerks under the wheel, and oil magnates whose history was never written, nor could be written, often make peace with God, and find a gratification for their sense of sublimity by building churches, founding colleges, giving libraries, and holding firmly to a formalized religion. Look about you!
To recapitulate: if your life-work is doubtful, questionable or distasteful, you will hold the balance true by going outside your vocation for the gratification that is your due, but which your daily work denies, and you find it in religion, I do not say this is always so, but it is very often. Great sinners are apt to be very religious; and conversely, the best men who have ever lived have been at war with established religions. And further, the best men are never found in churches.
Men deeply immersed in their work, whose lives are consecrated to doing things, who are simple, honest and sincere, desire no formal religion, need no priest nor pastor, and seek no gratification outside their daily lives. All they ask is to be let alone—they wish only the privilege to work.
When Samuel Johnson, on his death bed, made Joshua Reynolds promise he would do no more work on Sunday, he of course had no conception of the truth that Reynolds reached through work the same condition of mind that he, Johnson, had reached by going to church. Johnson despised work and Reynolds loved it; Johnson considered one day in the week holy; to Reynolds all days were sacred—sacred to work; that is, to the expression of his best. Why should you cease to express your holiest and highest on Sunday? Ah, I know why you don't work on Sunday! It is because you think that work is degrading, and because your sale and barter is founded on fraud, and your goods are shoddy. Your week-day dealings lie like a pall upon your conscience, and you need a day in which to throw off the weariness of that slavery under which you live. You are not free yourself, and you insist that others shall not be free.
You have ceased to make work gladsome, and you toil and make others toil with you, and you all well nigh faint from weariness and disgust. You are slave and slave-owner, for to own slaves is to be one.
But the artist is free and he works in joy, and to him all things are good and all days are holy. The great inventors, thinkers, poets, musicians and artists have all been men of deep religious natures; but their religion has never been a formalized, restricted, ossified religion. They did not worship at set times and places. Their religion has been a natural and spontaneous blossoming of the intellect and emotions—they have worked in love, not only one day in the week, but all days, and to them the groves have always and ever been God's first temples.
Let us work to make men free! Am I bad because I want to give you freedom, and have you work in gladness instead of fear?
Do not hesitate to work on Sunday, just as you would think good thoughts if the spirit prompts you. For work is, at the last, only the expression of your thought, and there can be no better religion than good work.
The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for but one thing. And that is Initiative. What is Initiative? I'll tell you: It is doing the right thing without being told. But next to doing the right thing without being told is to do it when you are told once. That is to say, carry the Message to Garcia! There are those who never do a thing until they are told twice: such get no honors and small pay. Next, there are those who do the right thing only when necessity kicks them from behind, and these get indifference instead of honors, and a pittance for pay. This kind spends most of its time polishing a bench with a hard-luck story. Then, still lower down in the scale than this, we find the fellow who will not do the right thing even when some one goes along to show him how, and stays to see that he does it; he is always out of a job, and receives the contempt he deserves, unless he has a rich Pa, in which case Destiny awaits near by with a stuffed club. To which class do you belong?
The Disagreeable Girl
England's most famous dramatist, George Bernard Shaw, has placed in the pillory of letters what he is pleased to call "The Disagreeable Girl."
And he has done it by a dry-plate, quick-shutter process in a manner that surely lays him liable for criminal libel in the assize of high society.
I say society's assize advisedly, because it is only in society that the Disagreeable Girl can play a prominent part, assuming the center of the stage. Society, in the society sense, is built upon vacuity; its favors being for those who reveal a fine capacity to waste and consume. Those who would write their names high on society's honor roll, need not be either useful or intelligent—they need only seem.
And this gives to the Disagreeable Girl her opportunity. In the paper box factory she would have to make good; Cluett, Coon & Co. ask for results; the stage demands at least a modicum of intellect, in addition to shape, but society asks for nothing but pretense, and the palm is awarded to palaver. But do not, if you please, imagine that the Disagreeable Girl does not wield an influence. That is the very point—her influence is so far-reaching in its effect that George Bernard Shaw, giving cross-sections of life in the form of dramas, cannot write a play and leave her out.
She is always with us, ubiquitous, omniscient and omnipresent—is the Disagreeable Girl. She is a disappointment to her father, a source of humiliation to her mother, a pest to her brothers and sisters, and when she finally marries, she slowly saps the inspiration of her husband and very often converts a proud and ambitious man into a weak and cowardly cur.
Only in society does the Disagreeable Girl shine—everywhere else she is an abject failure. The much-vaunted Gibson Girl is a kind of de luxe edition of Shaw's Disagreeable Girl. The Gibson Girl lolls, loafs, pouts, weeps, talks back, lies in wait, dreams, eats, drinks, sleeps and yawns. She rides in a coach in a red jacket, plays golf in a secondary sexual sweater, dawdles on a hotel veranda, and can tum-tum on a piano, but you never hear of her doing a useful thing or saying a wise one. She plays bridge whist, for "keeps" when she wins, and "owes" when she loses, and her picture in flattering half-tone often adorns a page of the Sunday Yellow.
She reveals a beautiful capacity for avoiding all useful effort.
Gibson gilds the Disagreeable Girl.
Shaw paints her as she is.
In the Doll's House Henrik Ibsen has given us Nora Hebler, a Disagreeable Girl of mature age, who, beyond a doubt, first set George Bernard Shaw a-thinking. Then looking about, Shaw saw her at every turn in every stage of her moth-and-butterfly existence.
And the Disagreeable Girl being everywhere, Shaw, dealer in human character, cannot write a play and leave her out, any more than the artist Turner could paint a picture and leave man out, or Paul Veronese produce a canvas and omit the dog.
The Disagreeable Girl is a female of the genus homo persuasion, built around a digestive apparatus that possesses marked marshmallow proclivities. She is pretty, pug-nosed, pink, pert and poetical; and at first glance, to the unwary, she shows signs of gentleness and intelligence. Her age is anywhere from eighteen to twenty-eight. At twenty-eight she begins to evolve into something else, and her capacity for harm is largely curtailed, because by this time spirit has written itself in her form and features, and the grossness and animality which before were veiled are becoming apparent.
Habit writes itself on the face, and body is an automatic recording machine.
To have a beautiful old age, you must live a beautiful youth, for we ourselves are posterity, and every man is his own ancestor. I am to-day what I am because I was yesterday what I was. The Disagreeable Girl is always pretty, at least we have been told she is pretty, and she fully accepts the dictum.
She has also been told she is clever, and she thinks she is.
The actual fact is she is only "sassy."
The fine flaring up of youth has tended to set sex rampant, but she is not "immoral" save in her mind.
She has caution to the verge of cowardice, and so she is sans reproche. In public she pretends to be dainty; but alone, or with those for whose good opinion she does not care, she is gross, coarse and sensual in every feature of her life. She eats too much, does not exercise enough and considers it amusing to let other people wait on her and do for her the things she should do for herself. Her room is a jumble of disorder. The one gleam of hope for her lies in the fact that out of shame, she allows no visitor to enter her apartments if she can help it. Concrete selfishness is her chief mark. She will avoid responsibility, side-step every duty that calls for honest effort; is untruthful, secretive, indolent and dishonest.
"What are you eating?" asks Nora Hebler's husband as she enters the room, not expecting to see him.
"Nothing," is the answer, and she hides the box of bonbons behind her, and soon backs out of the room.
I think Mr. Hebler had no business to ask her what she was eating—no man should ask any woman such a question, and really it was no difference anyway. But Nora is always on the defensive and fabricates when it is necessary, and when it isn't, just through habit. She will hide a letter written by her grandmother as quickly and deftly as if it were a missive from a guilty lover. The habit of her life is one of suspicion, for being inwardly guilty herself, she suspects everybody although it is quite likely that crime with her has never broken through thought into deed. Nora will rifle her husband's pockets, read his note-book, examine his letters, and when he goes on a trip she spends the day checking up his desk, for her soul delights in duplicate keys.
At times she lets drop hints of knowledge concerning little nothings that are none of hers, just to mystify folks.
She does strange, annoying things simply to see what others will do.
In degree, Nora's husband fixed the vice of finesse in her nature, for when even a "good" woman is accused she parries by the use of trickery and wins her point by the artistry of the bagnio. Women and men are never really far apart anyway, and women are largely what men have made them.
We are all just getting rid of our shackles; listen closely, anywhere, even among honest and intellectual people, if such there be, and you can detect the rattle of chains.
The Disagreeable Girl's mind and soul have not kept pace with her body. Yesterday she was a slave, sold in a Circassian mart, and freedom to her is so new and strange that she is unfamiliar with her environment, and she does not know what to do with it.