The strength of being morally clean PDF book by David Starr Jordan (1907)

The strength of being morally clean PDF book by David Starr Jordan 

The strength of being morally clean

study of the quest for unearned happiness


I WISH in this address to make a plea for sound and sober life. I base this plea on two facts: to be clean is to be strong; no one can secure happiness without earning it. Among the inalienable rights of man as our fathers have taught us are these three: " life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." So long as man is alive and free, he will, in one way or another, seek that which gives him pleasure, hence life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are in essence the same.

But the pursuit of happiness is an art in itself. To seek it is not necessarily to find it, and failure may destroy both liberty and life. Of some phases of this pursuit, I wish to speak today. My message is an old one. If by a good chance some part of it is true, this truth is as old as life itself. And if it is true, it is a message that needs to be repeated many times to each generation of men. It is one of the laws of life that each acquisition has its cost.

  No organism can exercise power without yielding up part of its substance. The physiological law of transfer of energy is the basis of human success and happiness. There is no action without expenditure of energy, and if energy is not expended, the power to generate it is lost. This law shows itself in a thousand ways in the life of man. The arm which is not used becomes palsied. The wealth which comes by chance weakens and destroys.

  The good which is unused turns to evil. The charity which asks no effort " cannot relieve the misery she creates." The religion which another man would give us we cannot take as a gift. There is no Christliness without endeavor. The truth which another man has won from nature or from life is not our truth until we have lived it. Only that becomes real or helpful to any man which has cost the sweat of his brow, the effort of his brain, or the anguish of his soul.

He who would be wise must daily earn his wisdom. The parable of the talents is the expression of this law, for he who adds not effort to power soon loses the power he had. The responsibility for effort rests with the individual. This need is the meaning of individuality, and by it, each must work out his own salvation, with fear and trembling it may be sometimes, and all times with perseverance and patience.

The greatest source of failure in life comes from this. It is easier to be almost right than to be right; to wish, than to gain. In default of gold, there is always something almost as good, and which glitters equally. In default of possession, the illusion can be had, and more cheaply. It is possession only which costs. Illusion can be had on easy terms, though the final end of deception is failure and misery. Happiness must be earned, like other good things, else it cannot be held. It can be deserved only where its price has been somehow paid.

Nothing worth having is given away in this world, nor in any other that we know of. No one rides deadhead on the road to happiness. He who tries to do so never reaches his destination. He is left in the dumps. It is probably too much to say that all of the human misery can be traced to the dead-head habit. Misery has as many phases as humanity. But if we make this statement negatively, it will not be far from the truth. No one is ever miserable who would truly pay the price of happiness. No one is really miserable who has not tried to cheapen life.

Author: David Starr Jordan
 Publication Date: 1907

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