Self-righteousness, by blinding your eyes to the truth, is the direct cause of the most gigantic and the most subtle miseries of the world. These awfully good people who fully realize how hard they have always tried to do right, are the unhappiest people in the world—unless I except Tom, Dick, Harry and Fan, the victims of these self-righteous reformers. No, I can’t even except these; for they at least generally succeed in having their own way in spite of the would-be reformer. But what so utterly disheartening as continued lack of success? And the self-righteous one never succeeds. It is hard, hard, to be so wise and willing, with such high ideals (the self-righteous one in» strong on ideals), and never to succeed in making Tom, Dick and Harry conform to them. Do you see why Jesus said so often, “Woe comes to the Pharisee” —the self-righteous? And why he called them hypocrites? Of course they are unconscious of their hypocrisy—self-righteousness blinds them to the truth; they think others are to blame for most of the self-righteous one’s own hard conditions.
The self-righteous one is doomed to a tread-mill of petty failures. He goes round and round his own little personal point of view and learns nothing.
It is by getting at the other fellow’s point of view that we learn things—about him and ourselves, too. When the self-righteous one wakes up to the fact that the world is full of people whose points of view are just exactly as right and wise and ideal as his own; and begins to feel with, and PULL WITH these other people, instead of against them; when he does this he will find himself out of the treadmill to stay. As he shows a disposition to consider other people’s ideals and help others in the line they want to go, he will find the whole world eager to help him in the way he wants to go. The self-righteous one works alone and meets defeat. The one who, recognizing his own righteousness in intent, yet forgets not that others are even as he, is the true friend and be-friended, of all the world.
Now don’t let this homily slip off your shoulders. We are all self-righteous in spots, and none of us is so very wise that he cannot by self-examination and readjustment learn a lot more.
Each soul in its place is wisest and best. Don’t you try to get into the pilot house and steer things for Tom, Dick, or Harry. Stay in your own and steer clear of the rocks of anger, malice, revenge, resentment, re-sistance, INTERFERENCE and immoderation.
SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR.
“Help me to make things go forward instead of backward. I want to be neat and attractive, with a good head of hair, a good complexion and good health. I want to help my husband so he will fall in love with me to make home beautiful, attractive and comfortable. I want bright eyes and freedom from that careworn look. Oh, I want to draw my husband nearer to me.” (From a Taurus woman, aged twenty-seven.)