ULYSSES AND THE SIRENS
When you boys and girls get older and further along in school, you will probably learn of a famous Greek whose name was Ulysses. He was noted as a heroic seaman, who travelled over dangerous seas and into unknown lands.
In one of the seas where Ulysses sailed was an island known as the Isle of the Sirens. The sirens would attract sailors to their shores by beautiful music. But when the sailors drew near the land they would irresistibly cast themselves into the sea, to their destruction.
Now Ulysses had heard of the sirens through Circe, and he wanted to hear the maidens sing, but he did not want to come within their power. So this is the way he managed it. One day he put wax in the ears of all his sailors, so that they could not hear the music, and then had himself strapped to the mast. Then he ordered the sailors to row near enough to the island for him to hear the music. In this way he heard the singing, but did not get caught.
That was a clever way of getting tempted, and yet not getting caught, was it not? But someone has said in a joke it would have been better if Ulysses had had an orchestra on board which would have made better music than the sirens. Then neither Ulysses nor the sailors would have been tempted to go too near the dangerous isle.
That is a pretty good way of dealing with all kinds of temptation,—not by trying to keep temptation out, but by putting something more attractive in its place. If you are tempted to go to the moving pictures, when you were told not to, do not simply stand around outside the place with nothing else to do. Go off and play something which will be more attractive than moving pictures. If you are told that you must not go fishing, don’t sulk around wishing that you could go. Just go at baseball or something else, and soon you will have forgotten about the other thing.
Always put something else in the place of the thing you are not to do, and it will help you to overcome temptation.
You have all seen bottles of poison, and you know when your father or mother buys poison from the druggist there is a label on the bottle marked “POISON” in large letters, and on the label is a picture of a skull and crossbones. This is done to warn people from drinking the poison.
Now, if a druggist were to put clear, pure water into a bottle, and put a label marked “Poison” on it, no one would drink the water if he were choking, for fear of being poisoned.
And there are boys and girls just like that good, pure, fresh water with the poison-label on it. They are good at heart. They are kind and unselfish and obedient, but nobody will have anything to do with them because they put such terrible poison-labels upon themselves.