Another friend is a Seventh Day Adventist, who is full of zeal for the declaration of the "Third Angel's Message," for he believes that only by heeding it, keeping sacred the hours from sunset on Friday to Saturday sunset, in accordance with his reading of the fourth commandment, and also believing in the speedy second coming of Christ, can one's soul's salvation be attained.
The Baptist is assured that his mode of baptism—complete immersion—is the only one that satisfies the demands of heaven, and the more rigorous members of the sect refuse communion with those who have not obeyed, as they see the command. The members of the "Christian" Church—as the disciples of Alexander Campbell term themselves—while they assent that they are tied to no creed except the New Testament, demand immersion as a prerequisite to membership in their body. The Methodist, Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Nazarene, and many others, are "evangelical" in their belief, as is a large portion of the Church of England, and its American offshoot, both of which are known as the Episcopal Church. Another portion, however, of this church is known as "ritualistic," and the two branches in England recently became so involved in a heated discussion as to the propriety of certain of their bishops partaking in official deliberations with ministers of the other, but outside, evangelistic churches, that for a time it seemed as if the whole Episcopal Church would be disrupted by the fierceness and anger gendered in the differences of opinion.
To my own mind, all this worry was much ado about nothing. Each man's brain and conscience must guide him in matters of this kind, and the worry, fret, stew, evolved out of the matter, seem to me a proof that real religion had little to do with it.
Recently one good brother came to me with tears in his voice, if not in his eyes, worried seriously as to my own religious belief because I had asserted in a public address that I believed the earnest prayer of a good Indian woman reached the ear of God as surely as did my own prayers, or those of any man, woman, minister, or priest living. To him the only effective prayers were "evangelical" prayers—whatever that may mean—and he was deeply distressed and fearfully worried because I could not see eye to eye with him in this matter. And a dear, good woman, who heard a subsequent discussion of the subject, was so worried over my attitude that she felt impelled to assure me when I left that "she would pray for me."
I have friends who are zealous Roman Catholics, and a number of them are praying that I may soon enter the folds of "Mother Church," and yet my Unitarian and Universalist friends wonder why I retain my membership in any "orthodox" church. On the other hand, my New Thought friends declare that I belong to them by the spirit of the messages I have given to the world. Then, too, my Theosophist friends—and I have many—present to me, with a force I do not attempt to controvert, the doctrine of the Universal Brotherhood of Mankind, and urge upon me acceptance of the comforting and helpful doctrine, to them, of Reincarnation.
Not long prior to this writing a good earnest man buttonholed me and held me tight for over an hour, while he outlined his own slight divergencies from the teachings of the Methodist Church, to which he belongs, and his interpretation of the symbolism of Scripture, none of which had the slightest interest to me. In our conversation, he expressed himself as quite willing—please note the condescension—to allow me the privilege of supposing the Catholic was honest and sincere in his faith and belief, but he really could not for one moment allow the same to the Christian Scientist, who, from his standpoint, denied the atonement and the Divinity of Christ. I suppose if he ever picks up this booklet and reads what I am now going to write, he will regard me as a reprobate and lost beyond the possibility of salvation. Nevertheless, I wish to put on record that I regard his attitude as one of intolerance, bigotry, fanaticism, and impudence—sheer, unadulterated impertinence. Who made him the judge of the thoughts and acts of other men's inner lives? Who gave to him the wisdom and power of discernment to know that he was right and these others wrong? Poor, arrogant fool. His worries were not the result of genuine affection and deep human sympathy, the irrepressible and uncontrollable desires and longings of his heart to bring others into the full light of God's love, but of his overweening self-confidence in his own wisdom and judgment. And I say this in no personal condemnation of him, for I have now even forgotten who it was, but in condemnation of the spirit in which he and all his ilk ever act.
Hence, my dear reader, if you are of his class, I say to you earnestly: Don't worry about other people's salvation. It may be they are nearer saved than you are. No man can' be "worried" into accepting anything, even though you may deem it the only Truth. I have known men whom others regarded as agnostics who had given more study to the question of personal religion than any ten of their critics. I can recall three—all of whom were men of wonderful mentality and great earnestness of purpose. John Burroughs's first essays were written for his own soul's welfare—the results of his long-continued mental struggles for light upon the subject. Major J.W. Powell, the organizer and director for many years of the United States Geological Survey and Bureau of American Ethnology, was brought up by a father and mother whose intense longing was that their son should be a Methodist preacher. The growing youth wished to please his parents, but was also compelled to satisfy his own conscience. The more he studied the creeds and doctrines of Methodism, the less he felt he could accept them, and much to the regret of his parents, he refused to enter the ministry. Yet, in relating the story to me, he asserted that his whole life had been one long agony of earnest study to find the highest truth. Taking me into his library, where there were several extended shelves filled from end to end with the ponderous tomes of the two great government bureaus that he controlled, he said: "Most people regard this as my life-work, and outwardly it is. Yet I say to you in all sincerity that the real, inner, secret force working through all this, has been that I might satisfy my own soul on the subject of religion." Then, picking up two small volumes, he said: "In these two books I have recorded the results of my years of agonizing struggle. I don't suppose ten men have ever read them through, or, perhaps, ever will, but these are the real story of the chief work of my inner life."
I am one of the few men who have read both these books with scrupulous care, and yet were it not for what my friend told me of their profound significance to him, I should scarcely have been interested enough in their contents to read them through. At the same time, I know that the men who, from the standpoint of their professionally religious complacency would have condemned Major Powell, never spent one-thousandth part the time, nor felt one ten-thousandth the real solicitude that he did about seeking "the way, the truth, and the life."
Another friend in Chicago was Dr. M.H. Lackersteen, openly denounced as an agnostic, and even as an infidel, by some zealous sectaries. Yet Dr. Lackersteen had personally translated the whole of the Greek Testament, and several other sacred books of the Hebrews and Hindoos, in his intense desire to satisfy the demands of his own soul for the Truth. He was the soul of honor, the very personification of sincerity, and as much above some of his critics—whom I well knew—in these virtues, as they were above the scum of the slums.
The longer I live and study men the more I am compelled to believe that religion is a personal matter between oneself and God and is more of the spirit than most people have yet conceived. It is well known to those who have read my books and heard my lectures on the Old Franciscan Missions of California, that I revere the memory of Padres Junipero Serra, Palou, Crespi, Catala, Peyri, and others of the founders of these missions. I have equal veneration for the goodness of many Catholic priests, nuns, and laymen of to-day. Yet I am not a Catholic, though zealous sectaries of Protestantism—even of the church to which I am supposed to belong—sometimes fiercely assail me for my open commendation of these men of that faith. They are worried lest I lean too closely towards Catholicism, and ultimately become one of that fold. Others, who hear my good words in favor of what appeals to me as noble and uplifting in the lives of those of other faiths of which they do not approve, worry over and condemn my "breadth" of belief. Indeed, I have many friends who give themselves an immense lot of altogether unnecessary worry about this matter. They have labelled themselves according to some denominational tag, and accept some form of belief that, to them, seems incontrovertible and satisfactory. Many of them are praying for me, and each that I may see the TRUTH from his standpoint. For their prayers I am grateful. I cannot afford to lose the spirit of love behind and in every one of them. But for the worry about me in their minds, I have neither respect, regard, toleration, nor sympathy. I don't want it, can do without it, and I resent its being there. To each and all of them I say firmly: Quit Your Worrying about my religion, or want of it. I am in the hands of the same loving God that you are. I have the promise of God's Guiding Spirit as much as you have. I have listened respectfully and with an earnest and sincere desire to see and know the Truth, to all you have said, and now I want to be left alone. I have come to exclaim with Browning in Rabbi Ben Ezra:
Now, who shall arbitrate? Ten men love what I hate, Shun what I follow, slight what I receive; Ten, who in ears and eyes Match me. We all surmise, They this thing, and I that: whom shall my soul believe?
For myself I have concluded that no one shall choose my religion for me, and all the worrying in the world shall not change my attitude.
And it is to the worrying of my friends that they owe this state of mind. For this reason, I found myself one day counting up the number of people of different beliefs who had solemnly promised to pray for me. There were Methodists, Campbellites, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Seventh Day Adventists, Presbyterians, Nazarenes, Holy Rollers, and others. Then the query arose: Whose prayers will be answered on my behalf? Each is sure that his are the ones that can be effective; yet their prayers differ; they are, to some degree, antagonistic, and insofar as they petition that I become one of their particular fold, they nullify each other, as it is utterly impossible that I accept the specific form of faith of each. The consequent result in my own mind is that as I cannot possibly become what all these good people desire I should be, as their desires and prayers for me controvert each other, I must respectfully decline to be bound by any one of them. I must and will do my own choosing. Hence all the worry on my behalf is energy, strength, and effort wasted.
Let me repeat, then, to the worrier about the salvation of others: You are in a poor business. Quit Your Worrying. Hands off! This is none of your concern. Believe as little or as much and what you will for your own soul's salvation, but do not put forth your conceptions as the only conceptions possible of Divine Truth before another soul who may have an immeasurably larger vision than you have. Oh, the pitiableness of man's colossal conceit, the arrogance of his ignorance. As if the God of the Universe were so small that one paltry, finite man could contain in his pint measure of a mind all the ocean of His power, knowledge, and love. Let your small and wretched worries go. Have a little larger faith in the Love of the Infinite One. Tenderly love and trust those whose welfare you seek, and trust God at the same time, but don't worry when you see the dear ones walking in a path you have not chosen for them. Remember your own ignorance, your own frailties, your own errors, your own mistakes, and then frankly and honestly, fearlessly and directly ask yourself the question if you dare to take upon your own ignorant self the responsibility of seeking to control and guide another living soul as to his eternal life.
Brother, Sister, the job is too big for you. It takes God to do that, and you are not yet even a perfect human being. Hence, while I long for all spiritual good for my sons and daughters, and for my friends, and I pray for them, it is in a large way, without any interjection of my own decisions and conclusions as to what will be good for them. I have no fears as I leave them thus in God's hand, and regard every worry as sinful on my part, and injurious to them. I have no desire that they should accept my particular brand of faith or belief. While I believe absolutely in that which I accept for the guidance of my own life, I would not fetter their souls with my belief if I could. They are in wiser, better, larger, more loving Hands than mine. And if I would not thus fetter my children and friends, I dare not seek to fetter others. My business is to live my own religion to the utmost. If I must worry, I will worry about that, though, as I think my readers are well aware by now, I do not believe in any kind of worry on any subject whatever.
Hence, let me again affirm in concluding this chapter, I regard worry about the religion of others as unwarrantable on account of our own ignorances as to their peculiar needs, as well as of God's methods of supplying those needs. It is also a useless expenditure of strength, energy, and affection, for, if God leads, your worry cannot possibly affect the one so led. It is also generally an irritant to the one worried over. Even though he may not formulate it into words he feels that it is an interference with his own inner life, a nagging that he resents, and, therefore, it does him far more harm than good; and, finally, it is an altogether indefensible attempt to saddle upon another soul your own faith or belief, which may be altogether unsuitable or inadequate to the needs of that soul.
There is still one other form of worry connected with the subject of religion. Many a good man and woman worries over the apparent well-being and success of those whom he, she, accounts wicked! They are seen to flourish as a green bay tree, or as a well-watered garden, and this seems to be unfair, unjust, and unwise on the part of the powers that govern the universe. If good is desirable, people ought to be encouraged to it by material success—so reason these officially good wiseacres, who subconsciously wish to dictate to God how He should run His world.
How often we hear the question: "Why is it the wicked prosper so?" or "He's such a bad man and yet everything he does prospers." Holy Writ is very clear on this subject. The sacred writer evidently was well posted on the tendency of human nature to worry and concern itself about the affairs of others, hence his injunction:
Fret not thyself because of evil doers.
In other words, it's none of your business. And I am inclined to believe that a careful study of the Bible would reveal to every busybody who worries over the affairs of others that he himself has enough to do to attend to himself, and that his worry anyhow is a ridiculous, absurd, and senseless piece of supererogation, and rather a proof of human conceit and vanity than of true concern for the spiritual good of others.
AMBITION AND WORRY
Some forms of ambition are sure and certain developers and feeders of worry and fretful distress, and should be guarded against with jealous care. We hear a great deal from our physicians of the germs of disease that seize upon us and infect our whole being, but not all the disease germs that ever infected a race are so demoralizing to one's peace and joy as are the germs of such deadly mental diseases as those of envy, malice, covetousness, ambition, and the like. Ambition, like wine, is a mocker. It is a vain deluder of men. It takes an elevated position and beckons to you to rise, that you may be seen and flattered of men. It does not say: "Gain strength and power, wisdom and virtue, so that men will place you upon the pedestal of their veneration, respect, and love," but it bids you seize the "spotlight" and hold it, and no sooner are you there than it begins to pester you, as with a hundred thousand hornets, flying around and stinging you, with doubts and questionings as to whether your fellows see you in this elevated place, whether they really discern your worth, your beauty, your shining qualities; and, furthermore, it quickens your hearing, and bids you strain to listen to what they say about you, and as you do so, you are pricked, stabbed, wounded by their slighting and jeering remarks, their scornful comments upon your impertinent and impudent arrogance at daring to take such a place, and their open denial of your possession of any of the qualities which would entitle you to so honored a position in the eyes of men.
Then, too, it must be recalled that, when fired with the desires of this mocker, ambition, one is inclined, in his selfish absorption, to be ruthless in his dealings with others. It is so easy to trample upon others when a siren is beckoning you to climb higher, and your ears are eagerly listening to her seductive phrases. With her song in your ears, you cannot hear the wails of anguish of others, upon whose rights and life you trample, the manly rebukes of those you wound, or the stern remonstrances of those who bid you heed your course. Ambition blinds and deafens, and, alas, calluses the heart, kills comradeship, drives away friendship in its eager selfishness, and in so doing, lets in a flood of worries that ever beset its victims. They may not always be in evidence while there is the momentary triumph of climbing, but they are there waiting, ready to teeter the pedestal, whisper of its unsure and unstable condition, call attention to those who are digging around its foundations, and to the fliers in the air, who threaten to hurl down bombs and completely destroy it.
Phaeton begged that his father, Phoebus Apollo, allow him to drive the flaming chariot of day through the heavens, and, in spite of all warnings and cautions, insisted upon his power and ability. Though instructed and informed as to the great dangers he evoked, he seized the reins with delight, stood up in the chariot, and urged on the snorting steeds to furious speed. Soon conscious of a lighter load than usual, the steeds dashed on, tossing the chariot as a ship at sea, and rushed headlong from the traveled road of the middle zone. The Great and Little Bear were scorched, and the Serpent that coils around the North Pole was warmed to life. Now filled with fear and dread, Phaeton lost self-control, and looked repentant to the goal which he could never reach. The unrestrained steeds dashed hither and thither among the stars, and reaching the Earth, set fire to trees, cities, harvests, mountains. The air became hot and lurid. The rivers, springs, and snowbanks were dried up. The Earth then cried out in her agony to Jupiter for relief, and he launched a thunderbolt at the now cowed and broken-hearted driver, which not only struck him from the seat he had dishonored, but also out of existence.
The old mythologists were no fools. They saw the worries, the dangers, the sure end of ambition. They wrote their cautions and warnings against it in this graphic story. Why will men and women, for the sake of an uncertain and unsure goal, tempt the Fates, and, at the same time, surely bring upon themselves a thousand unnecessary worries that sting, nag, taunt, fret, and distress? Far better seek a goal of certainty, a harbor of sureness, in the doing of kindly deeds, noble actions, unselfish devotion to the uplift of others. In this mad rush of ambitious selfishness, such a life aim may seem chimerical, yet it is the only aim that will reach, attain, endure. For all earthly fame, ambitious attainment, honor, glory is evanescent and temporary. Like the wealth of the miser, it must be left behind. There is no pocket in any shroud yet devised which will convey wealth across the River of Death, and no man's honors and fame but that fade in the clear light of the Spirit that shines in the land beyond.
Then, ambitious friend, quit your worrying, readjust your aim, trim your lamp for another and better guest, live for the uplift of others, seek to give help and strength to the needy, bring sunshine to the darkened, give of your abundance of spirit and exuberance to those who have little or none, and thus will you lay up treasure within your own soul which will convert hell into heaven, and give you joy forever.
So long as men and women believe that happiness lies in outdistancing, surpassing their fellows in exterior or material things, they cannot help but be subjects to worry. To determine to gain a larger fortune than that possessed by another man is a sure invitation to worry to enter into possession of one's soul. Who has not seen the vain struggles, the distress, the worry of unsatisfied ambitions that would have amounted to nothing had they been gratified? In Women's Clubs—as well as men's—many a heart-ache is caused because some other woman gains an office, is elected to a position, is appointed on a committee you had coveted.
The remedy for this kind of worry is to change the aim of life. Instead of making position, fame, the attainment of fortune, office, a fine house, an automobile, the object of existence, make the doing of something worthy a noble manhood or womanhood the object of your ambition. Strive to make yourself worthy to be the best president your club has ever had; endeavor to be the finest equipped, mentally, for the work that is to be done, whether you are chosen to do it or not, and keep on, and on, and still on, finding your joy in the work, in the benefit it is to yourself, in the power it is storing up within you.
Then, as sure as the sun shines, the time will come when you will be chosen to do the needed work. "Your own will come to you." Nothing can hinder it. It will flow as certainly into your hands as the waters of the river flow into the sea.
ENVY AND WORRY
Envy is a prolific source of worry. Once allow this demon of unrest to fasten itself in one's vitals, and worry claims every waking hour. Envy is that peculiar demon of discontent that cannot see the abilities, attainments, achievements, or possessions of another without malicious determination to belittle, deride, make light of, or absolutely deny their existence, while all the time covetously craving them for itself. Andrew Tooke pictures Envy as a vile female:
A deadly paleness in her cheek was seen; Her meager skeleton scarce cased with skin; Her looks awry; an everlasting scowl Sits on her brow; her teeth deform'd and foul; Her breast had gall more than her breast could hold; Beneath her tongue coats of poison roll'd; No smile e'er smooth'd her furrow'd brow but those Which rose from laughing at another's woes; Her eyes were strangers to the sweets of sleep, Devouring spite for ever waking keep; She sees bless'd men with vast success crown'd, Their joys distract her, and their glories wound; She kills abroad, herself's consum'd at home, And her own crimes are her perpetual martyrdom.
Ever watching, with bloodshot eyes, the good things of others, she hates them for their possessions, longs to possess them herself, lets her covetousness gnaw hourly at her very vitals, and yet, in conversation with others, slays with slander, vile innuendo, and falsehood, the reputation of those whose virtues she covets.
As Robert Pollock wrote of one full of envy:
It was his earnest work and daily toil With lying tongue, to make the noble seem Mean as himself.
* * * * *
Whene'er he heard, As oft he did, of joy and happiness, And great prosperity, and rising worth, 'Twas like a wave of wormwood o'er his soul Rolling its bitterness.
Aye! and he drank in great draughts of this bitter flood, holding it in his mouth, tasting its foul and biting qualities until his whole being seemed saturated with it, hating it, dreading it, suffering every moment while doing it, yet enduring it, because of his envy at the good of others.
Few there are, who, at some time or other in their lives, do not have a taste, at least, of the stinging bite of envy. Girls are envious of each other's good looks, clothes, possessions, houses, friends; boys of the strength, skill, ability, popularity of others; women of other women, men of other men, just as when they were boys and girls.
One of the strongest words the great Socrates ever wrote was against envy. He said:
Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of murder and revenge, the beginner of secret sedition, the perpetual tormentor of virtue. Envy is the filthy slime of the soul; a venom, a poison, a quicksilver, which consumeth the flesh, and drieth up the marrow of the bones.
And history clearly shows that the wise philosopher stated facts. Caligula slew his brother because he possessed a beauty that led him to be more esteemed and favored than he. Dionysius, the tyrant, was vindictive and cruel to Philoxenius, the musician, because he could sing; and with Plato, the philosopher, because he could dispute, better than himself. Even the great Cambyses slew his brother, Smerdis, because he was a stronger and better bowman than himself or any of his party. It was envy that led the courtiers of Spain to crave and seek the destruction of Columbus, and envy that set a score of enemies at the heels of Cortes, the conqueror of Peru.
It is a fearful and vindictive devil, is this devil of envy, and he who yields to it, who once allows it admittance to the citadel of his heart, will soon learn that every subsequent waking and even sleeping moment is one of worry and distress.
DISCONTENT AND WORRY
Closely allied to envy is discontent. These are blood relations, and both are prolific sources of worry. And lest there are those who think because I have revealed, in the preceding chapter, the demon of worry—envy—as one that attacks the minds of the great and mighty, it does not enter the hearts of everyday people, let me quote, entire, an article and a poem recently written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox in The Los Angeles Examiner. The discontent referred to clearly comes from envy. Some one has blond tresses, while she has black. This arouses her envy. She is envious because another's eyes are blue, while hers are brown; another is tall, while she is small; etc., etc. There is nothing, indeed, that she cannot weep and worry over:
There is a certain girl I know, a pretty little elf, Who spends almost her entire thoughts in pity for herself.
Her glossy tresses, raven black, cause her to weep a pond— She is so sorry for herself because they are not blond.
Her eyes, when dry, are very bright and very brown, 'tis true, But they are almost always wet, because they are not blue.
She is of medium height, and when she sees one quite tall She weeps all day in keenest pain because she is so small.
But if she meets some tiny girl whom she considers fair, Then that she is so big herself she sobs in great despair.
When out upon a promenade her tears she cannot hide, To think she is obliged to walk while other folks can ride.
But if she drives, why then she weeps—it is so hard to be Perched stiffly in a carriage seat while other girls run free.
She used to cry herself quite sick to think she had to go Month after month to dreary schools; that was her constant woe.
But on her graduating day, my, how her tears did run! It seemed so sorrowful to know that her school life was done.
One day she wept because she saw a funeral train go by— It was so sad that she must live while other folks could die.
And really all her friends will soon join with her in those tears Unless she takes a brighter view of life ere many years.
The conceited girl or woman is tiresome and unpleasant as a companion, but the morbidly discontented woman is far worse. Perhaps you have met her, with her eternal complaint of the injustice of Fate toward her.
She feels that she is born for better things than have befallen her; her family does not understand her; her friends misjudge her; the public slights her.
If she is married she finds herself superior to her husband and to her associates. She is eternally longing for what she has not, and when she gets it is dissatisfied.
The sorrowful side of life alone appeals to her.
This she believes is due to her "artistic nature." The injustice of fortune and the unkindness of society are topics dear to her heart. She finds her only rapture in misery.
If she is religiously inclined she looks toward Heaven with more grim satisfaction in the thought that it will strip fame, favor and fortune from the unworthy than because it will give her the benefits she feels she deserves.
She does not dream that she is losing years of Heaven here upon earth by her own mental attitude.
WE BUILD OUR HEAVENS THOUGHT BY THOUGHT.
If you are dwelling upon the dark phases of your destiny and upon the ungracious acts of Fate, you are shaping more of the same experience for yourself here and in realms beyond.
You are making happiness impossible for yourself upon any plane. In your own self lies Destiny.
I have known a woman to keep her entire family despondent for years by her continual assertions that she was out of her sphere, misunderstood and unappreciated.
The minds of sensitive children accepted these statements and grieved over "Poor Mother's" sad life until their own youth was embittered. The morbid mother seized upon the sympathies of her children like a leech and sapped their young lives of joy.
The husband grew discouraged and indifferent under the continual strain, and what might have been a happy home was a desolate one, and its memory is a nightmare to the children to-day.
Understand yourself and your Divine possibilities and you will cease to think you are misunderstood.
It is not possible to misunderstand a beautiful, sunny day. All nature rejoices in its loveliness.
Give love, cheerfulness, kindness and good-will to all humanity, and you need not worry about being misunderstood.
Give the best you have to each object, purpose and individual, and you will eventually receive the best from humanity.
COWARDICE AND WORRY
Cowardice is a much more prolific source of worry than most people imagine. There are many varieties of cowardice, all tracing their ancestry back to fear. Fear truly makes cowards of us all. There are the physical cowards, the social cowards, the business cowards, the hang-on-to-your-job cowards, the political cowards, the moral cowards, the religious cowards, and fifty-seven, nay, a hundred and one other varieties. Each and all of these have their own attendant demons of worry. Every barking dog becomes a lion ready to tear one to pieces, and no bridge is strong enough to allow us to pass over in safety. No cloud has a silver lining, and every rain-storm is sure to work injury to the crops rather than bring the needful moisture for their vivification.
What a piteous sight to see a man who dares not express his honest opinions, who must crawl instead of walk upright, in the presence of his employer, lest he lose his job. How his cowardice worries him, meets him at every turn, torments him, lest some incautious word be repeated, lest he say or do the wrong thing. And so long as there are cowards to employ, bully employers will exist. Nay, the cowardice seems to call out bullying qualities. Just as a cur will follow you with barkings and threatening growls if you run from him, and yet turn tail and run when you boldly face him, so with most men, with society, with the world—flee from them, show your fear of them, and they will harry you, but boldly face them, they gentle down immediately, fawn upon you, lie down, or, to use an expressive slang phrase, "come and eat out of your hand."
How politicians straddle the fence, refrain from expressing their opinions, deal in glittering generalities, because of their cowardly fears. How they turn their sails to catch every breath of popular favor. How cautious, politic, wary, they are, and how fears worry and besiege them, whenever they accidentally or incidentally say something that can be interpreted as a positive conviction. And yet men really love a brave man in political life; one who has definite convictions and fearlessly states them; who has no worries as to results but dares to say and do those things only of which his conscience approves. No matter how one may regard Roosevelt, cowardice is one thing none will accuse him of. He says his say, does his will, expresses himself with freedom upon any and all subjects, let results be as they may. Such a man is free from the petty worries that beset most politicians. He knows nothing of their existence. They cannot breathe in the free atmosphere that is essential to his life; like the cowardly cur, they run away at his approach.
Oh, cowards all, of every kind and degree, quit ye like men, be strong and of good courage, dare and do, dare and say, dare and be, take a manly stand, fling out your banner boldly to the breeze, cry out as did Patrick Henry: "Give me liberty, or give me death," or as that other patriot did: "Sink or swim, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote." Do the things you are afraid of; dare the men who make cowards of you; say the things you fear to say; and be the things you know you ought to be, and it will surprise you how the petty devils of worry will slink away from you. You will walk in new life, in new strength, in new joy, in new freedom. For he who lives a life free from worries of this nature, has a spontaneity, a freedom, an exuberance, an enthusiasm, a boldness, that not only are winsome in themselves, make friends, open the doors of opportunity, attract the moving elements of life, but that give to their possessor an entirely new outlook, a wider survey, a more comprehensive grasp. Life itself becomes bigger, grander, more majestic, more worth while, the whole horizon expands, and from being a creature of petty affairs, dabbling in a small way in the stuff of which events are made, he becomes a potent factor, a man, a creator, a god, though in the germ.
WORRY ABOUT MANNERS AND SPEECH
Many people are desperately worried about their manners. One has but to read the letters written to the "Answers to Correspondents" departments of the newspapers to see how much worry this subject of manners causes. This springs, undoubtedly, from a variety of causes. People brought up in the country, removing to the city, find the conditions of life very different from those to which they have been accustomed, and they are uncertain as to what city people regard as the right and proper things to do. Where one, perforce, must act, uncertainty is always irritating or worrying, and, because of this uncertainty, many people worry even before the time comes to act. Now, if their worry would take a practical and useful turn—or, perhaps, I had better state it in another way, viz., that if they would spend the same time in deciding what their course of action should be—there would be an end put to the worry.
We have all seen such people. They are worried lest their clothes are not all right for the occasion, lest their tie is of the wrong shade, their shoes of the correct style, and a thousand and one things that they seem to conjure up for the especial purpose of worrying over them. Who has not seen the nervousness, the worried expression on the face, the real misery of such people, caused by trifles that are so insignificant as not to be worth one-tenth the bother wasted on them.
The learning of a few fundamental principles will help out wonderfully. The chief end of "good manners" is to oil the wheels of social converse. Hence, the first and most important principle to learn is a due and proper consideration for the rights, opinions, and comfort of others. In other words, don't think of yourself so much as of the other fellow. Let your question be, not: How can I secure my own pleasure and comfort? but How can I best secure his? It is a self-evident proposition that you cannot make him feel comfortable and happy if you are uncomfortable and unhappy. Hence, the first thing to do is to quit worrying and be comfortable. This desired state of mind will come as soon as you have courageously made up your mind as to what standard of manners you intend to follow. The world is made up to-day, largely, of two classes: those who have money, and those who don't. Of the former class, a certain few set themselves up as the arbiters of good manners; they decide what shall be called "good form," and what is not allowable. If you belong to that class, the best thing you can do is to learn "to play the game their way." Study their rules of calling cards, and learn whether you leave one, two, three, or six when you are calling upon a man, or a woman, or both, or their oldest unmarried daughter, or the rest of the family. This is a regular game like golf, or polo. You have to know the course, the tools to use, and the method of going from one goal to another. Now, I never knew any ordinarily intelligent man or woman who couldn't learn the names of the tools used in golf, the numbers of the holes, and the rules of the game. How you play the game is another matter. And so is it in "good society." You can learn the rules as easily as the next one, and then it is "up to you" as to how you play it. You'll have to study the fashions in clothes; the fashions in handkerchiefs, and how to flirt with them; when to drink tea, and where; how to lose money gracefully at bridge; how to gabble incessantly and not know what you are talking about; how to listen "intelligently" and not have the remotest idea what your vis-a-vis is saying to you; you'll have to join 'steen clubs, and read ten new novels a day; go to every new play; know all about the latest movies; know all the latest ideas of social uplift, study art, the spiritual essence of color, the futurists, and the cubists. Of course, you'll study the peerage of England and know all about rank and precedence—and, indeed, you'll have your hands and mind so full of things that will make such a hash of life that it will take ten specialists to straighten you out and help you to die forty years before your time. Hence, if that is the life you intend to live, throw this book into the fire. It will be wasting your time to read it.
If you don't belong to the class of the extra rich, but are all the time wishing that you did; that you had their money, could live as they live, and, as far as you can, you imitate, copy, and follow them, then, again, I recommend that you give this book to the nearest newsboy and let him sell it and get some good out of it. You are not yet ready for it, or else you have gone so far beyond me in life, that you are out of my reach.
If, on the other hand, you belong to the class of workers, those who have to earn their living and wish to spend their lives intelligently and usefully, you can well afford to disregard—after you have learned to apply the few basic principles of social converse—the whims, the caprices, the artificial code set up by the so-called arbiters of fashion, manners, and "good form," which are not formulated for the promotion of intelligent intercourse between real manhood and womanhood, but for the preservation and strengthening of the barriers of wealth and caste.
Connected with this phase of the subject is a consideration of those who are worried lest in word or action, they fail in gentility. They are afraid to do anything lest it should not be regarded as genteel. When they shake hands, it must be done not so much with hearty, friendly spontaneity, but with gentility, and you wonder what that faint touch of fingers, reached high in air, means. They would be mortified beyond measure if they failed to observe any of the little gentilities of life, while the larger consideration of their visitor's disregard of the matter, would entirely escape them. To such people, social intercourse is a perpetual worry and bugbear. They are on the watch every moment, and if a visitor fails to say, "Pardon me," at the proper place, or stands with his back to his hostess for a moment, or does any other of the things that natural men and women often do, they are "shocked."
Then it would be amusing, were it not pathetic, to see how particular they are about their speech—what they say, and how they say it. As Dr. Palmer has tersely said: "We are terrorized by custom, and inclined to adjust what we would say to what others have said before," and he might have added: It must be said in the same manner.
I cannot help asking why men and women should be terrorized by custom—the method followed or prescribed by other men and women. Why be so afraid of others; why so anxious to "kow-tow" to the standards of others? Who are they? What are they, that they should demand the reverent following of the world? Have you anything to say? Have you a right to say it? Is it wise to say it? Then, in the name of God, of manhood, of common sense, say it, directly, positively, assertively, as is your right, remembering the assurance of the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal." Don't worry about whether you are saying it in the genteel fashion of some one else's standard. Make your own standard. Even the standards of the grammar books and dictionaries are not equal to that of a man who has something to say and says it forcefully, truthfully, pointedly, directly. Dr. Palmer has a few words to say on this phase of the subject, which are well worthy serious consideration: "The cure for the first of these troubles is to keep our eyes on our object, instead of on our listener or ourselves; and for the second, to learn to rate the expressiveness of language more highly than its compeers. The opposite of this, the disposition to set correctness above expressiveness, produces that peculiarly vulgar diction, known as "school-ma'am English," in which for the sake of a dull accord with usage, all the picturesque, imaginative, and forceful employment of words is sacrificed."
There you have it! If you have something to say that really means something, think of that, rather than of the way of saying it, your hearer, or yourself. Thus you will lose your self-consciousness, your dread, your fear, your worry. If your thought is worth anything, you can afford to laugh at some small violation of grammar, or the knocking over of some finical standard or other. Not that I would be thought to advocate either carelessness, laziness, or indifference in speech. Quite the contrary, as all who have heard me speak well know. But I fully believe that thought is of greater importance than form of expression. And, as for grammar, I believe with Thomas Jefferson, that "whenever, by small grammatical negligences, the energy of your ideas can be condensed or a word be made to stand for a sentence, I hold grammatical rigor in contempt."
I was present once when Thomas Carlyle and a technical grammarian were talking over some violation of correct speech—according to the latter's standard—when Carlyle suddenly burst forth in effect, in his rich Scotch burr: "Why, mon, I'd have ye ken that I'm one of the men that make the language for little puppies like ye to paw over with your little, fiddling, twiddling grammars!"
By all means, know all the grammar you can. Read the best of poets and prose authors to see how they have mastered the language, but don't allow your life to become a burden to you and others because of your worry lest you "slip a grammatical cog" here and there, when you know you have something worth saying. And if you haven't anything worth saying, please, please, keep your mouth shut, no matter what the genteel books prescribe, for nothing can justify the talk of an empty-headed fool who will insist upon talking when he and his listeners know he has nothing whatever to say. So, if you must worry, let it be about something worth while—getting hold of ideas, the strength of your thought, the power of your emotion, the irresistible sweep of your enthusiasm, the forcefulness of your indignation about wrong. These are things it is worth while to set your mind upon, and when you have decided what you ought to say, and are absorbed with the power of its thought, the need the world has for it, you will care little about the exact form of your words. Like the flood of a mighty stream, they will pour forth, carrying conviction with them, and to convince your hearer of some powerful truth is an object worthy the highest endeavor of a godlike man or woman—surely a far different object than worrying as to whether the words or method of expression meet some absurd standard of what is conceived to be "gentility."
Congressman Hobson, of Merrimac fame, and Ex-President Roosevelt are both wonderful illustrations of the point I am endeavoring to impress upon my readers. I heard Hobson when, in Philadelphia, at a public dinner given in his honor, he made his first speech after his return from Cuba. It was evident that he had been, and was, much worried about what he should say, and the result was everybody else was worried as he tried to say it. His address was a pitiable failure, mainly because he had little or nothing to say, and yet tried to make a speech. Later he entered Congress, began to feel intensely upon the subjects of national defense and prohibition of the alcoholic liquor traffic. A year or so ago I heard him speak on the latter of these subjects. Here, now, was an entirely different man. He was possesed with a great idea. He was no longer trying to find something to say, but in a powerful, earnest, and enthusiastic way, he poured forth facts, figures, argument, and illustration, that could not fail to convince an open mind, and profoundly impress even the prejudiced.
It was the same with Roosevelt. When he first began to speak in public, it was hard work. He wrote his addresses beforehand, and then read them. Perhaps he does now, for aught I know to the contrary, but I do know that now that he is full of the subjects of national honor in dealing with such cases as Mexico, Belgium, and Armenia, and our preparedness to sacrifice life itself rather than honor, his words pour forth in a perfect Niagara of strong, robust, manly argument, protest, and remonstrance, which gives one food for deep thought no matter how much he may differ.
There are those who worry about the "gentility" of others. I remember when Charles Wagner, the author of The Simple Life, was in this country. We were dining at the home of a friend and one of these super-sensitive, finical sticklers for gentility was present. Wagner was speaking in his big, these super-sensitive, finical sticklers for gentility simple, primitive way of a man brought up as a peasant, and more concerned about what he was thinking than whether his "table manners" conformed to the latest standard. There was some gravy on his plate. He wanted it. He took a piece of bread and used it as a sop, and then, impaling the gravy-soaked bread on his fork, he conveyed it to his mouth with gusto and relish. My "genteel" friend commented upon it afterwards as "disgusting," and lost all interest in the man and his work as a consequence.
To my mind, the criticism was that of a fool.
John Muir, the eminent poet-naturalist of the Mountains of California, had a habit at the table of "crumming" his bread—that is, toying with it, until it crumbled to pieces in his hand. He would, at the same time, be sending out a steady stream of the most entertaining, interesting, fascinating, and instructive lore about birds and beasts, trees and flowers, glaciers and rocks, that one ever listened to. In his mental occupancy, he knew not whether he was eating his soup with a fork or an ice-cream spoon—and cares less. Neither did any one else with brains and an awakened mind that soared above mere conventional manners. And yet I once had an Eastern woman of great wealth, (recently acquired), and of great pretensions to social "manners," at whose table Muir had eaten, inform me that she regarded him as a rude boor, because, forsooth, he was unmindful of these trivial and unimportant conventions when engaged in conversation.
Now, neither Wagner nor Muir would justify any advocacy on my part of neglect of true consideration, courtesy, or good manners. But where is the "lack of breeding" in sopping up gravy with a piece of bread or "crumming," or eating soup with a spoon of one shape or another? These are purely arbitrary rules, laid down by people who have more time than sense, money than brains, and who, as I have elsewhere remarked, are far more anxious to preserve the barand unimportant conventions when engaged in conive realization of the biblical idea of the "brotherhood of man."
THE WORRIES OF JEALOUSY
A prolific source of worry is jealousy; not only the jealousy that exists between men and women, but that exists between women and women, and between men and men. There are a thousand forms that this hideous monster of evil assumes, and when they have been catalogued and classified, another thousand will be found awaiting, around the corner, of entirely different categories. But all alike they have one definite origin, one source, one cause. And that cause, I am convinced, is selfishness. We wish to own, to dominate, to control, absolutely, entirely, for our own pleasure, and satisfaction, that of which we are jealous. In Chapter One I tell the incident of the young man on the street car whose jealous worry was so manifest when he saw his "girl" smiling upon another man. I suppose most men and women feel, or have felt, at some time or other, this sex jealousy. That woman belongs to me, her smiles are mine, her pleasant words should fall on my ear alone; I am her lover, she, the mistress of my heart; and that should content her.
Every writer of the human heart has expatiated upon this great source of worry—jealousy. Shakspere refers to it again and again. The whole play of Othello rests upon the Moor's jealousy of his fair, sweet, and loyally faithful Desdemona. How the fiendish Iago plays upon Othello's jealous heart until one sees that:
Trifles, light as air, Are to the jealous confirmations strong As proofs of holy writ.
Iago bitterly resents a slight he feels Othello has put upon him. With his large, generous, unsuspicious nature, Othello never dreams of such a thing; he trusts Iago as his intimate friend, and thus gives the crafty fiend the oportunity he desires to
put the Moor Into a jealousy so strong That judgment cannot cure ... Make the Moor thank me, love me, reward me, For making him egregiously an ass And practicing upon his peace and quiet Even to madness.
Othello gives his wife, Desdemona, a rare handkerchief. Iago urges his own wife, who is Desdemona's maid, to pilfer this and bring it to him. When he gets it, he leaves it in Cassio's room. Cassio was an intimate friend of Othello's, one, indeed, who had gone with him when he went to woo Desdemona, and who, by Iago's machinations, had been suspended from his office of Othello's chief lieutenant. To provoke Othello's jealousy Iago now urges Desdemona to plead Cassio's cause with her husband, and at the came time eggs on Othello to watch Cassio:
Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio; Wear your eye thus, not jealous nor secure. I would not have your free and noble nature Out of self-bounty be abus'd; look to 't.
Thus he works Othello up to a rage, and yet all the time pretends to be holding him back:
I do see you're mov'd; I pray you not to strain my speech To grosser issues nor to larger reach Than to suspicion.
Iago leaves the handkerchief in Cassio's room, at the same time saying:
The Moor already changes with my poison; Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons, Which at the first are scarce found to distaste, But with a little act upon the blood, Burn like the mines of sulphur.
And as he sees the tortures the jealous worries of the Moor have already produced in him, he exultingly yet stealthily rejoices:
Not poppy, nor mandragora, Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world, Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep Which thou hadst yesterday.
Well might Othello exclaim that he is "Set on the rack." Each new suspicion is a fresh pull of the lever, a tightening of the strain to breaking point, and soon his jealousy turns to the fierce and murderous anger Iago hoped it would:
Like to the Pontic sea, Whose icy current and compulsive course Ne'er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on To the Propontic and the Hellespont, Even so my bloody thoughts, with violent pace, Shall ne'er look back, ne'er ebb to humble love, Till that a capable and wide revenge Swallow them up.
Thus was he urged on, worried by his jealousy, until, in his bloody rage, he slew his faithful wife. Poor Desdemona, we weep her fate, yet at the same time we should deeply lament that Othello was so beguiled and seduced by his jealousy to so horrible a deed. And few men or women there are, unless their souls are purified by the wisdom of God, that are not liable to jealous influences. Our human nature is weak and full of subtle treacheries, that, like Iago, seduce us to our own undoing. He who yields for one moment to the worries of jealousy is already on the downward path that leads to misery, woe and deep undoing, Iago is made to declare the philosophy of this fact, when, in the early portion of the play he says to Roderigo:
'Tis in ourselves we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners; so that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness or manured with industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills.
Therein, surely, is great truth. We can plant or weed up, in the garden of our minds, whatever we will; we can "have it sterile with idleness," or fertilize it with industry, and it must ever be remembered that the more fertile the soil the more evil weeds will grow apace if we water and tend them. Our jealous worries are the poisonous weeds of life's garden and should be rooted out instanter, and kept out, until not a sign of them can again be found.
Solomon sang that "jealousy is as cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."
What a graphic picture of worry—a fire of vehement flame, burning, scorching, destroying peace, happiness, content, joy and reducing them to ashes.
In my travel and observation I have found a vast amount of jealous worry in institutions of one kind and another—such as the Indian Service, in reform schools, in humane societies, in hospitals, among the nurses, etc. It seems to be one of the misfortunes of weak human nature when men and women associate themselves together to do some work which ought to call out all the nobleness, the magnanimity, the godlike qualities of their souls, they become maggoty with jealous worries—worry that they are not accorded the honor that is their due; worry that their work is not properly appreciated; worry lest someone else becomes a favorite of the Superintendent, etc., etc., etc., ad libitum. Worries of this nature in every case, are a proof of small, or undeveloped, natures. No truly great man or woman can be jealous. Jealousy implies that you are not sure of your own worth, ability, power. You find someone else is being appreciated, you covet that appreciation for yourself, whether you deserve it or not. In other words you yield to accursed selfishness, utterly forgetful of the apostolic injunction: "In honor preferring one another."
And the same jealousies are found among men and women in every walk of life, in trade, in the office, among professors in schools, colleges, universities; in the learned professions, among lawyers, physicians and even among the ministers of the gospel, and judges upon the bench.
Oh! shame! shame! upon the littleness, the meanness, the paltriness of such jealousies; of the worries that come from them. How any human being is to be pitied whose mortal mind is corroded with the biting acid of jealous worry. When I see those who are full of worry because yielding to this demon of jealousy I am almost inclined to believe in the old-time Presbyterian doctrine of "total depravity." Whenever, where-ever, you find yourself feeling jealous, take yourself by the throat (figuratively), and strangle the feeling, then go and frankly congratulate the person of whom you are jealous upon some good you can truthfully say you see in him; spread his praises abroad; seek to do him honor. Thus by active work against your own paltry emotion you will soon overcome it and be free from its damning and damnable worries.
Akin to the worries of jealousy are the worries of hate. How much worry hate causes the hater, he alone can tell. He spends hours in conjuring up more reasons for his hate than he would care to write down. Every success of the hated is another stimulant to worry, and each step forward is a sting full of pain and bitterness.
He who hates walks along the path of worry, and so long as he hates he must worry. Hence, there is but one practical way of escape from the worries of hatred, viz., by ceasing to hate, by overcoming evil with good.
THE WORRIES OF SUSPICION
He who has a suspicious mind is ever the prey of worry. Such an one is to be pitied for he is tossed hither and yon, to and fro, at the whim of every breath of suspicion he breathes. He has no real peace of mind, no content, no unalloyed joy, for even in his hours of pleasure, of recreation, of expected jollity he is worrying lest someone is trying to get ahead of him, his vis-a-vis is "jollying" him, his partner at golf is trying to steal a march on him, he is not being properly served at the picnic, etc.
These suspicious-minded people are sure that every man is a scoundrel at heart—more or less—and needs to be watched; no man or woman is to be trusted; every grocer will sand his sugar, chicory his coffee, sell butterine for butter, and cold-storage eggs for fresh if he gets a chance. To accept the word of a stranger is absurd, as it is also to believe in the disinterestedness of a politician, reformer, office-holder, a corporation, or a rich man. But to believe evil, to expect to be swindled, or prepare to be deceived is the height of perspicacity and wisdom. How wonderfully Shakspere in Othello portrays the wretchedness of the suspicious man. One reason why Iago so hated the Moor was that he suspected him:
the thoughts whereof Doth like a poisonous mineral gnaw my inwards, And nothing can or shall content my soul Till I am even'd with him.
How graphic the simile, "gnaw my inwards;" it is the perpetual symbol of worry; the poisonous mineral ever biting away the lining of the stomach; just as mice and rats gnaw at the backs of the most precious books and destroy them; aye, as they gnaw during the night-time and drive sleep away from the weary, so does suspicion gnaw with its sharp worrying teeth to the destruction of peace, happiness and joy.
Then, when Iago has poisoned Othello's mind with suspicions about his wife, how the Moor is worried, gnawed by them:
By heaven, he echoes me, As if there were some monster in his thought Too hideous to be shown—(To Iago) Thou dost mean something. I heard thee say even now, thou lik'dst not that, When Cassio left my wife; what didst not like? And when I told thee he was of my counsel In my whole course of wooing, thou criedst 'Indeed!' And didst contract and purse thy brow together, As if thou then hadst shut up in thy brain Some horrible conceit. If thou dost love me, Show me thy thought.
And then we know, how, with crafty, devilish cunning, Iago plays upon these suspicions, fans their spark into flames. He pretends to be doing it purely on Othello's account and accuses himself that:
it is my nature's plague To spy into abuses, and yet my jealousy Shapes faults that are not:
and then cries out:
O beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss Who certain of his fate, loves not his wronger; But, O, what damned minutes tells he o'er Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!
There, indeed, the woe of the suspicious is shown. His minutes are really "damned;" peace flies his heart, rest from his couch, sanity from his throne, and, yielding himself, he becomes filled with murderous anger and imperils his salvation here and hereafter.
THE WORRIES OF IMPATIENCE
How many of our worries come from impatience? We do not want to wait until the fruition of our endeavors comes naturally, until the time is ripe, until we are ready for that which we desire. We wish to overrule conditions which are beyond our power; we fail to accept the inevitable with a good grace; we refuse to believe in our circumscriptions, our limitations, and in our arrogance and pride express our anger, our indignation, our impatience.
I have seen people whose auto has broken down, worried fearfully because they would not arrive somewhere as they planned, and in their impatient fretfulness they annoyed, angered, and upset all around them, without, in one single degree, improving their own condition or hastening the repair of the disaster. What folly; what more than childish foolishness.
A child may be excused for its impatience and petulance for it has not yet learned the inevitable facts of life—such as that breaks must be repaired, tires must be made so that they will not leak, and that the gasoline tank cannot be empty if the machine is to run. But a man, a woman, is supposed to have learned these incontrovertible facts, and should, at the same time, have learned acquiesence in them.
A train is delayed; one has an important engagement; worry seems inevitable and excusable. But is it? Where is the use? Will it replace the destroyed bridge, renew the washed out track, repair the broken engine? How much better to submit to the inevitable with graceful acceptance of the fact, than to fret, stew, worry, and at the same time, irritate everyone around you.
How serenely Nature rebukes the impatience of the fretful worrier. A man plants corn, wheat, barley, potatoes—or trees, that take five, seven years to come to bearing, such as the orange, olive, walnut, date, etc. Let him fret ever so much, worry all he likes, chafe and fret every hour; let him go and dig up his seeds or plants to urge their upgrowing; let him even swear in his impatient worry and threaten to smash all his machinery, discharge his men, and turn his stock loose; Nature goes on her way, quietly, unmoved, serenely, unhurried, undisturbed by the folly of the one creature of earth who is so senseless as to worry—viz., man.
Many a man's hair has turned gray, and many a woman's brow and cheeks have become furrowed because of fretful, impatient worry over something that could not be changed, or hastened, or improved.
My conception of life is that manhood, womanhood, should rise superior to any and all conditions and circumstances. Whatever happens, Spirit should be supreme, superior, in control. And until we learn that lesson, life, so far, has failed. Inasmuch as we do learn it, life has become a success.
THE WORRIES OF ANTICIPATION
He crosses every bridge before he comes to it, is a graphic and proverbial rendering of a description of the man who worries in anticipation. Something, sure, is going to happen. He is always fearful, not of what is, but of what is going to be. For twenty years he has managed to live and pay his rent, but at the beginning of each month he begins afresh to worry where "next month's rent is going to come from." He's collected his bills fairly well for a business life-time, but if a debtor fails to send in his check on the very day he begins to worry and fear lest he fail to receive it. His wife has given him four children, but at the coming of the fifth he is sure something extraordinarily painful and adverse is going to happen.
He sees—possibly, here, I should say, she sees—their son climbing a tree. She is sure he will fall and break a leg, an arm, or his neck. Her boy mustn't ride the horse lest he fall and injure himself; if he goes to swim he is surely in danger of being drowned, and she could never allow him or his sister to row in a boat lest it be overturned. The child must be watched momentarily, lest it fall out of the window, search out a sharp knife, swallow poison, or do some irreparable damage to the bric-a-brac.
Here let me relate an incident the truth of which is vouched for, and which clearly illustrates the difference between the attitude of worry and that of trust. One day, when Flattich, a pious minister of the Wurtemberg, was seated in his armchair, one of his foster children fell out of a second-story window, right before him, to the pavement below. He calmly ordered his daughter to go and bring up the child. On doing so it was found the little one had sustained no injury. A neighbor, however, aroused by the noise, came in and reproached Flattich for his carelessness and inattention. While she was thus remonstrating, her own child, which she had brought with her, fell from the bench upon which she had seated it, and broke its arm. "Do you see, good woman," said the minister, "if you imagine yourself to be the sole guardian of your child, then you must constantly carry it in your arms. I commend my children to God; and even though they then fall, they are safer than were I to devote my whole time and attention to them."
Those who anticipate evils for their children too often seem to bring down upon their loved ones the very evils they are afraid of. And one of the greatest lessons of life, and one that brings immeasurable and uncountable joys when learned, is, that Nature—the great Father-Mother of us all—is kindly disposed to us. We need not be so alarmed, so fearful, so anticipatory of evil at her hands.
Charles Warren Stoddard used to tell of the great dread Mark Twain was wont to feel, during the exhaustion and reaction he felt at the close of each of his lectures, lest he should become incapable of further writing and lecturing and therefore become dependent upon his friends and die a pauper. How wonderfully he conquered this demon of perpetual worry all those who know his life are aware; how that, when his publisher failed he took upon himself a heavy financial burden, for which he was in no way responsible, went on a lecture tour around the world and paid every cent of it, and finally died with his finances in a most prosperous condition.
The anticipatory worries of others are just as senseless, foolish and absurd as were those of Mark Twain, and it is possible for every man to overcome them, even as did he.
The cloud we anticipate seldom, if ever, comes, and then, generally, in a different direction from where we sought it. Time spent on looking for the cloud, and figuring how much of injury it will do us had better be utilized in garnering the hay crop, bringing in the lambs, or hauling warm fodder and bedding for them.
There is another side, however, to this worrying anticipation of troubles. The ancient philosophers recognized it. Lucan wrote: "The very fear of approaching evil has driven many into peril."
There are those who believe that the very concentration of thought upon a possible evil will bring to pass the peculiar arrangement of circumstances that makes the evil. Of this belief I am not competent to speak, but I am fully assured that it is far from helpful to be contemplating the possibility of evil. In my own life I have found that worrying over evils in anticipation has not prevented their coming, and, on the other hand, that where I have boldly faced the situation, without fear and its attendant worries, the evil has fled.
Hence, whether worries in hand, or worries to come, worries real or worries imaginary, the wise, sane and practical course is to kill them all and thus Quit Your Worrying.
HOW OUR WORRY AFFECTS OTHERS
If worry affected merely ourselves it would be bad enough, but we could tolerate it more than we do. For it is one of the infernal characteristics of worry that our manifestation of it invariably affects others as injuriously as it affects ourselves.
An employer who worries his employees never gets the good work out of them as does the one who has sense enough to keep them happy, good-natured and contented. I was lecturing once for a large corporation. I had two colleagues, who "spelled me" every hour. For much of the time we had no place to rest, work or play between our lectures. Our engagement lasted the better part of a year, and the result was that, during that period where our reasonable needs were unprovided for, we all failed to give as good work as we were capable of. We were unnecessarily worried by inadequate provision and our employers suffered. Henry Ford, and men of his type have learned this lesson. Men respond rapidly to those who do not worry them. Governor Hunt and Warden Sims, of Arizona, have learned the same fact in dealing with prisoners of the State Penitentiary. The less the men are "worried" by unnecessarily harsh treatment, absurd and cruel restrictions, curtailment of natural rights, the better they act, the easier they are liable to reform and make good.
Dr. Musgrove to his Nervous Breakdowns, tells a story of two commanders which well illustrates this point:
In a certain war two companies of men had to march an equal distance in order to meet at a particular spot. The one arrived in perfect order, and with few signs of exhaustion, although the march had been an arduous one. The other company reached the place utterly done up and disorganised. It was all a question of leadership; the captain of the first company had known his way and kept his men in good order, while the captain of the second company had never been sure of himself, and had harassed his subordinates with a constant succession of orders and counter-orders, until they had hardly known whether they were on their heads or their heels. That was why they arrived completely demoralised.
In war, as in peace, it is not work that kills so much as worry. A general may make his soldiers work to the point of exhaustion as Napoleon often did, yet have their almost adoring worship. But the general who worries his men gets neither their good will nor good work.
A worrying mother can keep a whole house in a turmoil, from father down to the latest baby. The growing boys and girls soon learn to dread the name of "home," and would rather be in school, in the backyard playing, in the attic, at the neighbors, or in the streets, anywhere, than within the sound of their mother's worrying voice, or frowning countenance. A worrying husband can drive his wife distracted, and vice versa. I was dining not long ago with a couple that, from outward appearance, had everything that heart could desire to make them happy. They were young, healthy, had a good income, were both engaged in work they liked, yet the husband worried the wife constantly about trifles. If she wished to set the table in a particular way he worried because she didn't do it some other way; if she drove one of their autos he worried because she didn't take the other; and when she wore a spring-day flowery kind of a hat he worried her because his mother never wore any other than a black hat. The poor woman was distracted by the absolute absurdities, frivolities and inconsequentialities of his worries, yet he didn't seem to have sense to see what he was doing. So I gave him a plain practical talk—as I had been drawn into a discussion of the matter without any volition on my part—and urged him to quit irritating his wife so foolishly and so unnecessarily.
Some teachers worry their pupils until the latter fail to do the work they are competent to do; and the want of success of many an ambitious teacher can often be attributed to his, her, worrying disposition. Remember, therefore, that when you worry you are making others unhappy as well as yourself, you are putting a damper, a blight, upon other lives as well as your own, you are destroying the efficiency of other workers as well as your own, you are robbing others of the joy of life which God intended them freely to possess. So that for the sake of others, as well as your own, it becomes an imperative duty that you
QUIT YOUR WORRYING.
WORRY VERSUS INDIFFERENCE
The aim and object of all striving in life should be to grow more human, more humane, less selfish, more helpful to our fellows. Any system of life that fails to meet this universal need is predestined to failure. When, therefore, I urge upon my readers that they quit their worrying about their husbands or wives, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends, the wicked and the good, I do not mean that they are to harden their hearts and become indifferent to their welfare. God forbid! No student of the human heart, of human life, and of the Bible can long ignore the need of a caution upon these lines. The sacred writer knew what he was talking about when he spoke of the human heart as deceitful and desperately wicked. It is deceitful or it would never blind people as it does to the inutility, the futility of much of their goodness. A goodness that is wrapped up in a napkin, and lies unused for the benefit of others, rots and becomes a putrid mass of corruption. It can only remain good by being unselfishly used for the good of others, and to prove that the human heart is desperately wicked one needs only to look at the suffering endured by mankind unnecessarily—suffering that organized society ought to prevent and render impossible.
The parable of the lost sheep was written to give us this needful lesson. The shepherd, when he found one of his sheep gone, did not sit down and wring his hands in foolish and useless worry as to what would happen to the sheep, the dangers that would beset it, the thorns, the precipices, the wolves. Nor did he count over the times he had cautioned the sheep not to get away from its fellows. Granted that it was conceited, self-willed, refused to listen to counsel, disobedient—the main fact in the mind of the shepherd was that it was lost, unprotected, in danger, afraid, cold, hungry, longing for the sheepfold, the companionship of its fellows and the guardianship of the shepherd. Hence, he went out eagerly and sympathetically, and searched until he found it and brought it back to shelter.
This, then, should be the spirit of those who have needed my caution and advice to quit their worrying about their loved ones and others—Do not worry, but do not, under any consideration, become hard-hearted, careless, or indifferent. Better by far preserve your interest and the human tenderness that leads you to the useless and needless expenditure of energy and sympathy in worry than that you should let your loved ones suffer without any care, thought, or endeavor on their behalf. But do not let it be a sympathy that leads to worry. Let it be helpful, stimulating, directive, energizing in the good. Overcome evil with good. Resist evil and it will flee from you. So long as those you love are absorbed in the things that in the past have led you to worry over them, be tender and sympathetic with them, surround them with your holy and helpful love.
Jesus was tender and compassionate with all who were sick or diseased in body or mind. He was never angry with any, save the proud and self-righteous Pharisees. He tenderly forgave the adulterous woman, justified the publican and never lectured or rebuked those who came to have their bodily and mental infirmities removed by him. Let us then be tender with the erring and the sinful, rather than censorious, and full of rebuke. Is it not the better way to point out the right—overcome the evil with the good, and thus bind our erring loved ones more firmly to ourselves. Surely our own errors, failures, weaknesses and sins ought to have taught us this lesson.
In the bedroom of a friend where I recently slept, was a card on which was illuminated these words, which bear particularly upon this subject:
The life that has not known and accepted sorrow is strangely crude and untaught; it can neither help nor teach, for it has never learned. The life that has spurned the lesson of sorrow, or failed to read it aright, is cold and hard. But the life that has been disciplined by sorrow is courageous and full of holy and gentle love.
And it is this holy, gentle, and courageous love that we need to exercise every day towards those who require it, rather than the worry that frets still more, irritates, and widens the gulf already existent. So, reader, don't worry, but help, sympathetically and lovingly, and above all, don't become indifferent, hard-hearted and selfish.
WORRIES AND HOBBIES
Though these words are much alike in sound they have no sympathy one with another. Put them in active operation and they rush at each other's throats far worse than Allies and Germans are now fighting. They strive for a death grip, and as soon as one gets hold he hangs on to the end—if he can. Yet, as in all conflicts, the right is sure to win in an equal combat, the right of the hobby is absolutely certain to win over the wrong of the worry.
Webster defines a hobby as: "A subject or plan which one is constantly setting off," or "a favorite and ever recurring theme of discourse, thought, or effort," but the editor of The Century Dictionary has a better definition, more in accord with modern thought, viz., "That which a person persistently pursues or dwells upon with zeal or delight, as if riding a horse."
Are you cursed by the demon of worry? Has he got a death grip on your throat? Do you want to be freed from his throttling assaults? If so, get a hobby, the more mentally occupying the better, and ride it earnestly, sincerely, furiously. Let it be what it will, it will far more than pay in the end, when you find yourself free from the nightmare of worry that has so relentlessly ridden you for so long. Collect bugs, old china, Indian baskets, Indian blankets, pipes, domestic implements, war paraphanalia, photographs, butterflies; make an herbarium of the flowers of your State; collect postage stamps, old books, first editions; go in for extra-illustrating books; pick up and classify all the stray phrases you hear—do anything that will occupy your mind to the exclusion of worry.
And let me here add a thought—the more unselfish you can make your hobby the better it will be for you. Perhaps I can put it even in a better way yet: The less your hobby is entered into with the purely personal purpose of pleasing yourself, and the more actively you can make it beneficial, helpful, joy-giving to others, the more potent for good it will be in aiding you to get rid of your worries. He who blesses another is thrice blessed, for he not only blesses himself by the act, but brings upon himself the blessing of the recipient and of Almighty God, with the oft-added blessing of those who learn of the good deed and breathe a prayer of commendation for him. In San Francisco there is a newspaper man who writes in a quaint, peculiar, simple, yet subtle fashion, who signs himself "K.C.B." During the Panama-Pacific Exposition one of his hobbies was to plan to take there all the poor youngsters of the streets, the newsboys, the little ones in hospitals, the incurables, the down-and-outers of the work-house and poor-farm, and finally, the almost forgotten old men and women of the almshouses.
I saw strong men weep with deep emotion at the procession of automobiles conveying the happy though generally silent throngs on one of these occasions, and "K.C.B." must have felt the showers of blessings that were sent in his direction from those who saw and appreciated his beautiful helpfulness.
There is nothing to hinder any man, woman, youth or maiden from doing exactly the same kind of thing, with the same spirit, and bringing a few hours of happiness to the needy, thus driving worry out of the mind, putting it hors de combat, so that it need never again rise from the field.
Every blind asylum, children's hospital, slum, old lady's home, old man's home, almshouse, poor-farm, work-house, insane asylum, prison, and a thousand other centers where the poor, needy, sick and afflicted gather, has its lonely hearts that long for cherishing, aching brows that need to be soothed, pain to be alleviated; and there is no panacea so potent in removing the worries of our own life as to engage earnestly in removing the positive and active ills of others.
People occasionally ask me if I have any hobby that has helped me ward off the attacks of worry. I do not believe I have ever answered this question as fully as I might have done, so I will attempt to do so now. One of my first hobbies was food reform and hygienic living. When I was little more than twelve years of age I became a vegetarian and for nine years lived the life pretty rigorously. I have always believed that simpler, plainer living than most of us indulge in, more open air life, sleeping, working, living out of doors, more active, physical exercise of a useful character, would be beneficial. Then I became a student of memory culture. Professor William Stokes of the Royal Polytechnic Institution became my friend, and for years I studied his system of Mnemonics, or as it was generally termed "Artificial Memory." Then I taught it for a number of years, and evolved from it certain fundamental principles upon which I have largely based the cultivation of my own memory and mentality, and for which I can never be sufficiently thankful. Then I desired to be a public speaker. I became a "hobbyist" on pronunciation, enunciation, purity of voice, phrasing and getting the thought of my own mind in the best and quickest possible way into the minds of others. For years I kept a small book in which I jotted down every word, its derivation and full meaning with which I was not familiar. I studied clear enunciation by the hour; indeed as I walked through the streets I recited to myself, aloud, so that I could hear my own enunciation, such poems as Southey's Cataract of Lodore, where almost every word terminates in "ing." For I had heard many great English and American speakers whose failure to pronounce this terminal "ing" in such words as coming, going, etc., used to distress me considerably. Other exercises were the catches, such as "Peter Piper picks a peck of pickled peppers," or "Selina Seamstich stitches seven seams slowly, surely, serenely and slovenly," or "Around a rugged rock a ragged rascal ran a rural race." Then, too, Professor Stokes had composed a wonderful yarn about the memory, entitled "My M-made memory medley, mentioning memory's most marvelous manifestations." This took up as much as three or four pages of this book, every word beginning with m. It was a marvelous exercise for lingual development. He also had "The Far-Famed Fairy Tale of Fenella," and these were constantly and continuously recited, with scrupulous care as to enunciation. My father was an old-time conductor of choral and oratorio societies, and was the leader of a large choir. I had a good alto voice and under his wise dicipline it was cultivated, and I was a certificated reader of music at sight before I was ten years old. Then I taught myself to play the organ, and before I was twenty I was the organist and choir-master of one of the largest Congregational churches of my native town, having often helped my father in the past years to drill and conduct oratorios such as The Messiah, Elijah, The Creation, etc. When I began to speak in public the only special instruction I had for the cultivation of the voice was a few words from my father to this effect: Stand before the looking-glass and insist that your face appear pleasant and agreeable. Speak the sentence you wish to hear. Listen to your own voice, you can tell as well as anyone else whether its sound is nasal, harsh, raucous, disagreeable, affected, or in any way displeasing or unnatural. Insist upon a pure, clear, natural, pleasing tone, and that's all there is to it. When you appear before an audience speak to the persons at the further end of the hall and if they can hear you don't worry about anyone else. Later, when I had become fairly launched as a public speaker, he came to visit me, and when I appeared on my platform that night I found scattered around on the floor, where none could see them but myself, several placards upon which he had printed in easily-read capitals: Don't shout—keep cool. Avoid ranting. Make each point clear. Don't ramble, etc.
When I was about fourteen I took up phonography, or stenography as it is now known. This was an aid in reporting speeches, making notes, etc., but one of its greatest helps was in the matter of analysing the sounds of words thus aiding me in their clear enunciation.
At this time I was also a Sunday school teacher, and at sixteen years of age, a local preacher in the Methodist church. This led to my becoming an active minister of that denomination after I came to the United States, and for seven years I was as active as I knew how to be in the discharge of this work. In my desire to make my preaching effective and helpful I studied unweariedly and took up astronomy, buying a three inch telescope, and soon became elected to Fellowship in the Royal Astronomical Society of England. Then I took up microscopy, buying the fine microscope from Dr. Dallinger, President of the Royal Microscopical Society, with which he had done his great work on bacilli—and which, by-the-way, was later stolen from me—and I was speedily elected a Fellow of that distinguished Society. A little later Joseph Le Conte, the beloved geologist of the California State University, took me under his wing, and set me to work solving problems in geology, and I was elected, in due time, a Fellow of the Geological Society of England, a society honored by the counsels of such men as Tyndall, Murchison, Lyell, and all the great geologists of the English speaking world.