Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/718

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

the widest possible scope for spontaneous social activities. We are well aware that, even in this enlightened community, not every citizen takes this view of the matter; that the old idea of government as a kind of earthly Providence to whom prayers may be addressed on all possible subjects, and whose powers of interference with the natural course of things are, and should be, unlimited, more or less prevails. We trust, however, that this antiquated notion is on the wane, and that within the next few years our people will take a decided step in advance in freeing themselves from the thrall of unnecessary state interference with individual action. We shall never know what, as a people, we are capable of till we take our industrial and commercial activities into our own hands, and instruct our legislators that we shall not in future consider it one of their tasks to make this country wealthy and prosperous.




There has recently sprung into existence a society of vast extent, the professed purpose of which is to promote the doing of good deeds by its members. We refer to the Society of Christian Endeavor, a monster convention of which was held in this city two month ago. So far as its main object goes, it is impossible to find any fault, even were one so disposed, with the Society of Christian Endeavor. One is only tempted to ask a little mournfully why it should be thought necessary to join a society in order to feel prompted to good deeds. We all belong to a society far vaster than that of Christian Endeavor we are all members of the great human society. Through our membership therein we reap a constant succession of benefits of the most important character; and the question we should put to ourselves, if we have not already put it, is whether our personal attitude toward that great society is what it ought to be. It can not be what it ought to be unless we vividly realize the benefits our membership entails. To the human society we are indebted for peace and security, the protection of life and property, scope for the development of family and personal affections, access to the means of intellectual and moral growth, opportunities for aesthetic enjoyment in a word, all that enters into the great name civilization. Without this society into which we are all born members we should recede into a barbarism more primitive than that of our flint-fashioning ancestors, for even they lived in societies. Language would leave us, and, with language, all higher rationality.

This great human society, like other organizations, works under conditions, and, vast as are the benefits it now confers upon us, they are not what they would be if each member consciously endeavored to advance the ends for which the society exists. It is worth while to pause a moment and think what life would be if every member of the human society were a working member in the best sense; if, by a faithful performance of duty and a kindly bearing toward our fellow-men, we were all trying to bring our society to perfection. Does any one say that the human society is too big for one to feel any affection or loyalty toward it? If so, it is not wisely said. The Society of Christian Endeavor is getting to be very big indeed—running into the millions—but is the interest in it lessening on that account? We do not hear that it is. In point of fact the human society is not too big for many to feel a deep interest in it already; and we are persuaded that, if only its claims were properly presented, multitudes could be brought to profess their allegiance to it. Every day of life thousands, nay millions, of deeds are done consciously or unconsciously in the name of humanity—that is to say, with no other feeling or motive than a desire to do