The relief to the nervous system of dropping mistaken responsibility cannot be computed. For it is by means of the nervous system that we deal with others; it is the medium of our expression and of our impression. And as it is cleared of its false contractions, does it not seem probable that we might be opened to an exquisite delight in companionship that we never knew before, and that our appreciation of human nature would increase indefinitely?
Suppose when we find another whose ways are quite different from ours, we immediately contract, and draw away with the feeling that there is nothing in him for us. Or suppose, instead, that we look into his ways with real interest in having found a new phase of human nature. Which would be the more broadening process on the whole, or the more delightful? Frequently the contraction takes more time and attention than would an effort to understand the strange ways. We are almost always sure to find something in others to which we can respond, and which awakens a new power in us, if only a new power of sympathy.
To sum it all up, the best way to deal with others seems to be to avoid nervous friction of any sort, inside or out; to harbor no ill-will towards another for selfishness roused in one’s self; to be urged by no presumptive sense of responsibility; and to remember that we are all in the same world and under the same laws. A loving sympathy with human nature in general, leads us first to obey the laws ourselves, and gives us a fellow-feeling with individuals which means new strength on both sides.
To take this as a matter of course does not seem impossible. It is simply casting the skin of the savage and rising to another plane, where there will doubtless be new problems better worth attention.
To be truly at peace with one’s self means rest indeed.
There is a quiet complacency, though, which passes for peace, and is like the remarkably clear red-and-white complexion which indicates disease. It will be noticed that the sufferers from this complacent spirit of so-called peace shrink from openness of any sort, from others or to others. They will put a disagreeable feeling out of sight with a rapidity which would seem to come from sheer fright lest they should see and