Thursday, April 01, 2010

The School of Love & Other Essays, April 1


[continued from yesterday]

...It follows from this that a man can, if he likes, always have a kindly feeling for his fel­low-man, no matter what may be the provoca­tion to the contrary. Indeed he has a duty to do so; and the greater he is, the less will he be influenced by a single point of view, the more will he endeavour to see all round, and upon the whole conception to pass his judg­ment.

Let us then, in our dealings with others, remind ourselves of one or two prin­ciples, quite platitudinous in themselves, but which, nevertheless, if we will keep them in mind, will save us many a rash judgment, and harsh word, and hasty action.

For such things are the characteristics of small people; when we ourselves are guilty of them, we know how puny and despicable we are in our own eyes, and in those of others; moreover they culti­vate puniness, and react upon their perpetra­tors in a multitude of ways.

The first principle is to accept what has already been said, that is to believe in everybody; let us call it the principle of faith. There are some who preach the opposite; they say the prudent man will believe in nobody.

But the doctrine of such people condemns itself; for it forbids us to believe in them. If they merely said: "Put implicit faith in nobody," they might have a case; for there is no one who has not a weak point somewhere, on which, for his sake as well as for our own, it is unfair to put too much reliance.

But there is a world of difference between putting an implicit trust in others and believing in them. The former may be, and more often than not is, an act of weakness, a mere leaning for self ­support, an endeavour to shift one's own responsibility to the shoulders of another; the latter is the deliberate act of a strong man, and is usually a support and strengthening to others even more than to oneself. By believ­ing in others, then, we mean the conviction that the evil a bad man may do does not repre­sent the whole man; that the failure of a man does not show all his capabilities; that what­ever may be a man's weakness, it is usually only a covering for something very strong and beautiful underneath.

We may pass by unnoticed a quiet, harmless, passive creature, and ignore him with the pitying comment that he has nothing in him; but we may also be ignoring as deep a soul as we shall ever meet in our lifetime. We may set aside a man because he is a miserable failure; but we may be also trampling on a throbbing, bleeding heart, whose yearnings are far greater than our own, which feels its failures greater than do we, which has failed while we have suc­ceeded chiefly because its ideals are greater than ours....

[continued tomorrow]
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

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