Stress Relief – Self Reliance ( Part 18 )
Hudson and Behring accomplished so much in their fishing-boats as to astonish Parry and Franklin, whose equipment exhausted the resources of science and art. Galileo, with an opera-glass, discovered a more splendid series of celestial phenomena than any one since. Columbus found the New World in an undecked boat. It is curious to see the periodical disuse and perishing of means and machinery which were introduced with loud laudation a few years or centuries before. The great genius returns to essential man. We reckoned the improvements of the art of war among the triumphs of science,and yet Napoleon conquered Europe by the bivouac,which consisted of falling back on naked valor and disencumbering it of all aids. The Emperor held it impossible to make a perfect army,says Las Cases, “without abolishing our arms,magazines, commissaries and carriages, until, in imitation of the Roman custom, the soldier should receive his supply of corn, grind it in his hand-mill, and bake his bread himself.”
Society is a wave. The wave moves onward,but the water of which it is composed does not. The same particle does not rise from the valley to the ridge. Its unity is only phenomenal. The persons who make up a nation to-day, next year die, and their experience with them.
And so the reliance on Property, including the relianceon governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance.Men have looked away from themselves and at things so long that they have come to esteem the religious, learned and civil institutions as guards of property, and they deprecate assaults on these, because they feel them to be assaults on property. They measure their esteem of each other by what each has,and not by what each is. But a cultivated man becomes ashamed of his property, out of new respect for his nature. Especially he hates what he has if he see that it is accidental,–came to him by inheritance,or gift, or crime; then he feels that it is not having; it does not belong to him,has no root in him and merely lies there because no revolution or no robber takes it away.
But that which a man is, does always by necessity acquire,and what the man acquires is living property, which does not wait the beck of rulers,or mobs, or revolutions,or fire,or storm,or bankruptcies, but perpetually renews itself wherever the man breathes. “Thy lot or portion of life,”said the Caliph Ali,”is seeking after thee; therefore be at rest from seeking after it.” Our dependence on these foreign goods leads us to our slavish respect for numbers. The political parties meet in numerous conventions; the greater the concourse and with each new uproar of announcement, The delegation from Essex! The Democrats from New Hampshire! The Whigs of Maine! the young patriot feels himself stronger than before by a new thousand of eyes and arms.In like manner the reformers summon conventions and vote and resolve in multitude. Not so,O friends! will the God deign to enter and inhabit you, but by a method precisely the reverse. It is only as a man puts off all foreign support and stands alone that I see him to be strong and to prevail.
He is weaker by every recruit to his banner.Is not a man better than a town? Ask nothing of men,and, in the endless mutation, thou only firm column must presently appear the upholder of all that surrounds thee. He who knows that power is inborn, that he is weak because he has looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly rights himself,stands in the erect position, commands his limbs, works miracles;just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head.
So use all that is called Fortune. Most men gamble with her,and gain all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as unlawful these winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect,the chancellors of God. In the Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance,and shall sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations. A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick or the return of your absent friend,or some other favorable event raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.