American Editor, Lecturer and Essayist
William George Jordan
American Editor, Lecturer and Essayist
Man to be great must be self-reliant. Though he may not be so in all things, he must be self-reliant in the one in -which he 'would be great. This self-reliance is not the self-sufficiency of conceit. It is daring to stand alone. Be an oak, not a vine. Be ready to give support, but do not crave it; do not be dependent on it. To develop your true self- reliance, you must see from the very beginning that life is a battle you must fight for yourself, ? you must be your own soldier. You cannot buy a substitute, you cannot win a reprieve, you can never be placed on the retired list. The retired list of life is, ? death. The world is busy with its own cares, sorrows and joys, and pays little heed to you. There is but one great password to success, ? self-reliance.
The man who is self-reliant does not live in the shadow of someone else's greatness; he thinks for himself, depends on himself, and acts for himself. In throwing the individual thus back upon himself it is not shutting his eyes to the stimulus and light and new life that come -with the warm pressure of the hand, the kindly -word and the sincere expressions of true friendship. But true friendship is rare; its great value is in a crisis, ? like a lifeboat. Many a boasted friend has proved a leaking, worthless "lifeboat" when the storm of adversity might make him useful. In these great crises of life, man is strong only as he is strong from within, and the more he depends on himself the stronger -will he become, and the more able will he be to help others in the hour of their need. His very life will be a constant help and a strength to others, as he becomes to them a living lesson of the dignity of self-reliance.
We need men and women trained to think, not merely to think they think.
Jealousy stifles faith, which is the soul of love. It is emotional suicide. It is a peculiar form of fear which seeks constantly to discover what it does not want to find. Jealousy is the chloroform of confidence. It requires faith to keep faith, trust to retain trust, love to cherish love.
Man?s conscious influence, when he is on dress-parade, when he is posing to impress those around him,?is woefully small. But his unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality, the effect of his words and acts, the trifles he never considers,?is tremendous.
The man who is slipshod and thoughtless in his daily speech, whose vocabulary is a collection of anemic commonplaces, whose repetitions of phrases and extravagance of interjections act but as feeble disguises to his lack of ideas, will never be brilliant on an occasion when he longs to outshine the stars. Living at one's best is constant preparation for instant use.
We should begin it today. Today is the only real day of life for us. Today is the tomb of yesterday, the cradle of tomorrow. All our past ends in today. All our future begins in today.
Let us conceive of gratitude in its largest, most beautiful sense, that if we receive any kindness we are debtor, not merely to one man, but to the whole world. As we are each day indebted to thousands for the comforts, joys, consolations, and blessings of life, let us realize that it is only by kindness to all that we can begin to repay the debt to one [and] begin to make gratitude the atmosphere of all our living and a constant expression in outward acts, rather than in mere thoughts.
Mistakes are the inevitable accompaniment of the greatest gift given to man, - individual freedom of action. Let us be glad of the dignity of our privilege to make mistakes, glad of the wisdom that enables us to recognize them, glad of the power that permits us to turn their light as a glowing illumination along the pathway of our future. Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom. Without them there would be no individual growth, no progress, no conquest.
The man who says he will lead a newer and better life tomorrow, who promises great things for the future, and yet does nothing in the present to make that future possible, is living in an air-castle.
When man fails he? says, ?I am as God made me;? but when he succeeds, he proudly proclaims himself a ?self-made man.?
Charity seeks to smooth down the rough places of living, to bridge the chasms of human sin and folly, to feed the heart-hungry, to give strength to the struggling, to be tender with human weakness.
Happiness is the voice of optimism, of faith, of simple, steadfast love. No cynic or pessimist can be really happy. A cynic is a man who is morally near-sighted, ? and brags about it. He sees the evil in his own heart, and thinks he sees the world. He lets a mote in his eye eclipse the sun. An incurable cynic is an individual who should long for death, ? for life cannot bring him happiness, death might. The keynote of Bismarck's lack of happiness was his profound distrust of human nature.
Concentration makes the individual life simpler and deeper. It cuts away the shams and pretences of modern living and limits life to its truest essentials. Worry, fear, useless regret, ? all the great wastes that sap mental, moral or physical energy must be sacrificed, or the individual needlessly destroys half the possibilities of living. A great purpose in life, something that unifies the strands and threads of each day's thinking, something that takes the sting from the petty trials, sorrows, sufferings and blunders of life, is a great aid to Concentration. Soldiers in battle may forget their -wounds, or even be unconscious of them, in the inspiration of battling for what they believe is right. Concentration dignifies an humble life; it makes a great life, ? sublime. In morals it is a short-cut to simplicity. It leads to right for right's sake, without thought of policy or of reward. It brings calm and rest to the individual, ? a serenity that is but the sunlight of happiness.
He who thinks all mankind is vile is a pessimist who mistakes his introspection for observation he looks into his own heart and thinks he sees the world.
Conquest is the overcoming of an evil habit, the rising superior to opposition and attack, the spiritual exaltation that comes from resisting the invasion of the groveling material side of life. Sometimes when you are worn and weak with the struggle; when it seems that justice is a dream, that honesty and loyalty and truth count for nothing, that the devil is the only good paymaster; when hope grows dim and flickers, then is the time -when you must tower in the great sublime faith that Right must prevail, then must you throttle these imps of doubt and despair, you must master yourself to master the world around you. This is Conquest; this is what counts. Even a log can float with the current, it takes a man to fight sturdily against an opposing tide that would sweep his craft out of its course. When the jealousies, the petty intrigues and the meannesses and the misunderstandings in life assail you, ? rise above them. Be like a lighthouse that illumines and beautifies the snarling, swashing waves of the storm that threaten it, that seek to undermine it and seek to wash over it. This is Conquest. When the chance to win fame, wealth, success or the attainment of your heart's desire, by sacrifice of honor or principle, comes to you and it does not affect you long enough even to seem a temptation, you have been the victor. That too is Conquest. And Conquest is part of the royal road to Happiness.
He who, from sheer lack of purpose, drifts through life, letting the golden years of his highest hopes glide empty back into the perspective of his past while he fills his ears with the Lorelei song of procrastination is working overtime in accumulating remorse to darken his future. He is idly permitting the crown of his individuality to remain an irritating symbol of what might be rather than a joyous emblem of what is. This man is reigning, for reign he must, but he is not-ruling.
Conscience, as a mentor, the guide and compass of every act, leads ever to happiness. When the individual can stay alone with his or her conscience and get its approval, without knowing force or specious knowledge, then he or she begins to know what real happiness is.
Hurry always pays the highest price for everything, and, usually the goods are not delivered. In the race for wealth men often sacrifice time, energy, health, home, happiness and honor, ? everything that money cannot buy, the very things that money can never bring back. Hurry is a phantom of paradoxes. Business men, in their desire to provide for the future happiness of their family, often sacrifice the present happiness of wife and children on the altar of Hurry. They forget that their place in the home should be something greater than being merely "the man that pays the bills"; they expect consideration and thoughtfulness that they are not giving.
Consecration is dedicating the individual life to the service of others, to some noble mission, to realizing some unselfish ideal. Life is not something to be lived through; it is something to be lived up to. It is a privilege, not a penal servitude of so many decades on earth. Consecration places the object of life above the mere acquisition of money, as a finality. The man who is unselfish, kind, loving, tender, helpful, ready to lighten the burden of those around him, to hearten the struggling ones, to forget himself sometimes in remembering others, ? is on the right road to happiness. Consecration is ever active, bold and aggressive, fearing naught but possible disloyalty to high ideals.
Hurry has ruined more Americans than has any other -word in the vocabulary of life. It is the scourge of America; and is both a cause and a result of our high-pressure civilization. Hurry adroitly assumes so many masquerades of disguise that its identity is not always recognized.
Constantly reminding a man of the favors he has received from you almost cancels the debt. The care of the statistics should be his privilege; you are usurping his prerogative when you recall them.
Hurry is a counterfeit of haste. Haste has an ideal, a distinct aim to be realized by the quickest, direct methods. Haste has a single compass upon which it relies for direction and in harmony -with -which its course is determined. Hurry says: "I must move faster. I will get three compasses; I will have them different; I will be guided by all of them. One of them will probably be right." Hurry never realizes that slow, careful foundation work is the quickest in the end.
Content is not happiness; neither is pleasure. Pleasure is temporary, happiness is continuous; pleasure is a note, happiness is a symphony; pleasure may exist when conscience utters protests; happiness, ? never. Pleasure may have its dregs and its lees; but none can be found in the cup of happiness.
Courtship is the joyous, sunshine launching of the craft of hope; marriage is the long cruise across uncharted seas