In so far as we are truly the friend of one, whether he be baby, child, or grown man,—shall we be truly the friend of all; in so far as we are truly the friend of all, shall we be truly the friend of every one; and, as we find the living peace of this principle, and a greater freedom from selfishness,—whether of affection or dislike,—those who truly belong to us will gravitate to our sides, and we shall gravitate to theirs. Each one of us will understand his own relation to the rest,—whether remote or close,—for in that quiet light it will be seen to rest on intelligible law, which only the fog and confusion of selfishness concealed.
THE USE OF THE WILL
IT is not generally recognized that the will can be trained, little by little, by as steadily normal a process as the training of a muscle, and that such training must be through regular daily exercise, and as slow in its effects as the training of a muscle is slow. Perhaps we are unconsciously following, as a race, the law that Froebel has given for the beginnings of individual education, which bids us lead from the “outer to the inner,” from the known to the unknown. There is so much more to be done to make methods of muscular training perfect, that we have not yet come to appreciate the necessity for a systematic training of the will. Every individual, however, who recognizes the need of such training and works accordingly, is doing his part to hasten a more intelligent use of the will by humanity in general.
When muscles are trained abnormally their development weakens, instead of strengthening, the whole system. Great muscular strength is often deceptive in the appearance of power that it gives; it often effectually hides, under a strong exterior, a process of degeneration which is going on within, and it is not uncommon for an athlete to die of heart disease or pulmonary consumption.
This is exactly analogous to the frequently deceptive appearance of great strength of will. The will is trained abnormally when it is used only in the direction of personal desire, and the undermining effect upon the character in this case is worse than the weakening result upon the body in the case of abnormal muscular development. A person who is persistently strong in having his own way may be found inconsistently weak when he is thwarted in his own way. This weakness is seldom evident to the general public, because a man with a strong will to accomplish his own ends is quick to detect and hide any appearance of weakness, when he knows that it will interfere with whatever he means to do. The weakness, however, is none the less certainly there, and is often oppressively evident to those from whom he feels that he has nothing to gain.
When the will is truly trained to its best strength, it is trained to obey; not to obey persons or arbitrary ideas, but to obey laws of life which are as fixed and true in their orderly power, as the natural laws which keep the suns and planets in their appointed spheres. There is no one who, after a little serious reflection, may not be quite certain of two or three fixed laws, and as we obey the laws we know, we find that we discover more.