The quality of perseverance is one of the most wonderful qualities of mankind and it is also a quality that steadies and stabilizes the individual. Perseverance is usually regarded as a long, slow, steady progress towards a definite goal and it is practically never associated with spectacular or rapid financial attainments. It is probable that the general impression created is derived not only from the hard work associated with perseverance, but with the courage and self-control that must be inevitably associated with it.
It requires a great amount of courage to persevere in the face of great obstacles and to overcome them, but it requires still greater courage to persevere in the face of defeat and disaster and to continue the struggle for eventual success. Self-control comes into the picture to the largest extent after success has been achieved and it is probably the most important element entering into this particular quality. Self-control impels a man to carry on to greater heights and to refrain from lessening his own self-discipline, the discipline imposed upon him by dire necessity prior to his success. Self-control is also necessary to keep him from becoming egotistic and conceited. Perseverance has to do with work but, as in most qualities of human beings, can be directed in wrong directions as well as right ones.
Perseverance in a worthy cause merits the highest praise, but perseverance in an unworthy cause likewise deserves the greatest blame. Perseverance always means a moving forward of the individual regardless of the surface indications and therefore the individual who perseveres in following the right road inevitably climbs upward and his character is continually being built up along the right lines. Perseverance in the wrong direction just as inevitably means a steady and relentless movement downward with a consequent lowering of the individual’s standards, character, self-respect and morals.
Perseverance is usually associated with work but we have often seen this quality used for the purpose of avoiding work, obligations and responsibilities. We have occasionally noticed individuals who actually put forth more energy to avoid work than the actual work, itself, would call for. It is evident therefore that many individuals are prevented from exhibiting the quality of perseverance for other reasons than an actual aversion to work itself. The reason for the failure of such individuals is almost entirely due to the desire to evade responsibility. They have qualities and capabilities that would enable them to climb higher but they prefer the safe and easy road of being content with small success, and letting others pass them and take up the responsibilities which they themselves should have assumed. The fear of responsibility is much broader and deeper than the desire to avoid work. It will therefore be seen clearly why courage is an essential part of perseverance.
Perseverance truly can be said to be the road to the highest point that an individual can attain in life. It does not permit the individual to stop merely because he has accomplished a certain task. It spurs him onward so that, long after his own particular needs are satisfied, he shall continue so that he may provide to many others the means of satisfying their own needs and desires. It will thus be seen that perseverance is not only beneficial to the individual but that it is also of even greater benefit to mankind.
Every individual who arrives at a point where his own needs are satisfied must of necessity from that point on give more largely to others, in the way of opportunity and a chance for their own perseverance, than he could possibly give to himself. The rich man who continues to build up his own fortune must of necessity give more than he receives. The only really worth while things economically are opportunity and independence. The rich man has attained these but he must continue to give them to many others in order to increase his own wealth. It is not possible for him to do otherwise regardless of his personal desires in the matter. After a man has attained independence there is really nothing worth while for him to do except to help others to attain their own independence and these others must necessarily be those in whom the quality of perseverance is deeply imbedded.
Both nature and civilization put human beings to the test in order to discover whether they are real, whether they are strong, whether they are courageous. Perseverance is an answer to this test. What does it greatly matter whether a man takes ten years or thirty years to arrive at a state of economic independence? What does it greatly matter about how many obstacles he must have overcome, how many failures were recorded, how many disasters overtook him, just so long as he arrives at his goal with his honor, integrity and self-respect unsoiled? It really does not matter except that the man who has overcome the most obstacles and faced the greatest problems must of necessity be a stronger, bigger and better man than those who have had an easier time.
Self-control is also an important element. Self-control does not mean without emotion, but it does mean that a man must be calm and steadfast. Self-control does not mean lack of adventure, but it does mean reliability, common sense, calmness and courage in the face of danger or disaster. The early pioneers of this country were undoubtedly full of the spirit of adventure, romance and emotion, but they were also noted for their calmness, steadiness, courage, dependability and self-control. Their leaders were chosen because of the possession of a larger quantity of these very qualities. They did not necessarily choose the best rifle shot or the best horseman for a leader, for all of them were more or less proficient in such matters. They chose the steady man, the reliable man, the man who would not only persevere himself, but encourage and demand that they also persevere, in order that they might reach the end of their journey, safely if possible, without too much discomfort and danger if possible, but nevertheless to reach it.
Perseverance has been exemplified down through the ages and in all walks of life. Jacob worked fourteen years for Rachel’s father in order to win Rachel for his bride. Many modern young men continue to ask some young girl to marry them and will not take no for an answer, with the result that in many cases the girl finally decides that if the young man really cares that much about her that it would be the part of wisdom for her to change the no into a yes. Probably one of the most outstanding examples, however, are the very young individuals commonly called infants who can persevere practically interminably until they get the proper attention. When human beings grow to manhood and womanhood they are supposed to cast aside childish things, but if they would only imitate a small baby in its relentless pursuit of a purpose, they would probably never have much to complain about as to what they got out of life. The only essential difference is that a baby, owing to its helplessness, has to cry for what it wants while a grown individual has to work for what he or she may want. The same persistence, the same determination, and the same perseverance would achieve success for practically any human being. Above all we must remember that a baby knows what it wants and is not going to be satisfied until it gets just that. It refuses to accept substitutes unless by some chance the substitute happens to be more satisfactory than the original objective. On the other hand grown people have a habit of accepting very poor substitutes for opportunity and independence, and that is the particular reason why so many individuals fail to accomplish their objectives.
Life, itself, is an endless and eternal battle and one of the greatest dangers confronting the human race is ignorance. We have all the facilities available to properly educate our children but our educational system fails to include the most important thing in life. A code of ethics, teaching honor, loyalty, courage, justice, fair play, consideration for others, etc., would do far more toward making real men and real women out of our children than all of the other teachings combined. Perseverance is the answer to this particular problem. Our schools must be made to progress and not to stand still. We must continue to persevere until we shall establish a school system that will turn out men and women with a high code of ethics. Some of our schools and colleges, instead of teaching children the difference between good and bad and showing them why they should follow good, seem to prefer to say, “Now this is good and the other is bad, and you are at liberty to take your choice.” This they call academic freedom. They fail to teach the children that no one has a right to think wrong things any more than they have a right to do wrong things. It is not necessary to know or to experience evil in order to appreciate good and yet many of our educators feel that it is necessary to state both sides of the case just as they would both sides of a political controversy. In effect it is much the same as saying that it is perfectly proper to argue as to whether the right arm and hand or the left arm and hand are more valuable, and because there are arguments on both sides to insist that it is also perfectly proper to argue whether it is better to have two arms or one, to have one diseased arm and one good one or two good arms. We have merely mentioned these things in passing as an illustration of the fact that we must continually persevere not only in our homes, but in the schools and colleges and that we must continually raise their standards and not allow those who are paid for this service to actually cause them to be lowered.
Communism, for example, is not a theory of government at all and no one should be allowed to discuss it in our public or private institutions of learning except as a horrible example of what should not be done. There is absolutely nothing to communism except a desire on the part of those who have nothing, to forcibly take away the property as well as the influence of those who have something. It is a well-known fact that those who are in control of property, business or government actually own that property, business or government. So far as Russia is concerned, instead of property being owned by several million individuals, as under the Czar, all the property in Russia is now owned in all essential respects by a small handful of men who are at the head of a so-called government. As a matter of fact, the people themselves are virtually owned by this same small group of men. If they want to take a man’s property and use it for their own purposes they can do so. If they want to take a man’s life to further their own interests, they can also do that. And all this without any hope of retaliation on the part of those injured, or recompense for the injury. To say that this is a theory of government is so absurd that it is idiotic. To say that it is a rule of the people would be laughable if it were not tragic. The people can rule only by a free expression of their will and if this expression is not perfectly free then it is impossible to say that the people rule. As a matter of fact it is openly admitted in countries where dictators reign supreme that the general public has neither the intelligence nor the ability to rule properly.
In the United States there has been much talk lately of equality, sharing the wealth, but there has been little said on the part of politicians about sharing power. This power, it is stated, must be in the hands of a relatively small group of men, as they are the only ones, according to themselves, who have the intelligence and ability to use it wisely. In this connection we must remember that wealth has only the power to make life inconvenient and to make the common man suffer, but that power has the outstanding and remarkable ability to chop off a man’s head and take away his property entirely.
It would not necessarily be disastrous for our government to be possessed of immense wealth in its own right, but we would certainly be heading for disaster if we ever grant government the power to control the actions of the individual, to control his personal and private affairs as distinguished from his property. It would naturally be an economic disaster for government to control business and property, but it would be a much graver disaster for it to control the personal life and the personal actions of men, except to prevent them from committing crimes and illegal acts, as they have previously been recognized. It is useless to say that perseverance shall be diligently adhered to until a certain change takes place in the personnel of the individuals who administer government. What we need to do is to persevere until the people’s will shall again, as it was at the time of the founding of this Republic, be made the law of the land and no departures be allowed from this law.
There has been much talk of the necessity of the Supreme Court of the United States being allowed to interpret the Constitution, so as to bring it into conformity with modern conditions It is our earnest belief that at least seventy per cent of the citizens of America are just as sincere, just as earnest as their forefathers were, in their determination that no central government, no state government or any lesser entity of government shall be allowed under any circumstances or conditions to take away from the individual citizens their personal and individual right to rule their own country and to tell their government what the people want done. They don’t want a government and never will want a government that will tell the people what the government wants done.
The Government of the United States as well as the government of the states and cities are the servants of the free and independent citizens of this glorious Country of ours and it is high time that all of us as citizens restate this principle emphatically and without quibbling. If there are to be any changes in the Constitution of the United States they should be in the direction of removing the so-called uncertain phrases and substituting therefor the simple statement that no Supreme Court and no Congress or Executive department is to be presumed to have any power whatever, whether by interpretation or otherwise, that is not expressly stated in the Constitution. If there is any further power that the people, for their own benefit, desire to give to government they can do so through an amendment for that purpose. It is safe to say, however, that when the people really desire an amendment, there is always a tremendous popular clamor for the change, which is recognizable by all politicians or officers of government long before an amendment is submitted to Congress, and practically every member of Congress knows whether an amendment is one that the people want, at the time that he is voting on the amendment.
In order to again reestablish government of the people it is necessary to again proclaim our loyalty as individuals to the same principles that guided our forefathers in establishing the republic. The Constitution of the United States starts off with the words, “We the people” and all that is necessary for us to do is to see that we, the people, pass on all changes that are made in the original document and that if there is a question of uncertainty that this question shall be submitted to the people for their action thereon and not interpreted by any body or any group.
This is in no sense a criticism of the Supreme Court, it is not even a criticism of the Administration or of Congress. It is merely a common sense application of the system of always referring to the people, themselves, in order to establish the fundamental law of the land. In other words, if a matter is so controversial that a large proportion of constitutional attorneys feel that a certain part of a law is not constitutional and another equally large group believes that it is constitutional why not refer the matter to the people, who really make the Constitution. We are not of course referring to questions of constitutional law where the Supreme Court is able to determine just what the law does mean. We are referring only to the very small number of cases where it feels that the meaning is not clear and it then gives its interpretation of what the court thinks was meant by certain phrases.
The plain truth of the matter is that common sense needs to be continually exercised until laws are written in such manner that it is clearly evident what their purport actually is. The people elect their lawmakers and their courts, except in the few cases where judges are appointed such as the Supreme Court. It is obviously silly to presume that the people want the lawmaking bodies to pass laws which attorneys, themselves, do not understand. The only question is, are the laws made for the guidance of the people, or are they made expressly complicated so that the people cannot understand them and must refer to their attorneys for instructions as to the meaning? The average man should be able to go to a lawyer of good standing and find out what the law actually is. He should not have to pay a lawyer merely for the purpose of finding out what that particular lawyer thinks the law means.
No law should be allowed on the statute books that cannot be comprehended by the average intelligent man, and this will never come to pass if we allow lawyers to write our laws for us. To achieve this result requires the utmost perseverance. It is not a matter of days, weeks or months. It must necessarily be years, and perhaps many years, before the people eliminate all laws that are not clearly indicative of their meaning and substitute therefor laws written in intelligent English, as used by intelligent men and women. A great part of the laws on our statute books might as well be written in Greek or Latin so far as the average man’s understanding of them is concerned.
The first and initial step must be to elect business men to our legislative bodies, men who will write the laws in business and social language, instead of what is called legal terminology. Competent lawyers could then be consulted as to technical points of law, but they should not be allowed to make any changes that would confuse the meaning. Practically speaking, the phraseology of our laws would be far better if they were written by professors of English at our Universities than if they were written by the best legal minds. The people should be able to ascertain from any competent attorney the real meaning of any law and no attorney should ever be compelled to give an opinion. Language was invented for the purpose of making things clear and not for the purpose of confusion.
It will be clearly seen why perseverance will be so necessary to solve this problem, for the average man in our legislative bodies who is not a lawyer seems to think that it is necessary to turn the actual writing of laws over to those who are versed in the law, itself. This is exactly contrary to what should be done, for most of the so-called legal terminology is confusing instead of clear to the average man.
For the average man perseverance must be a continuous, robust and active, as well as common sense, application of his energies to accomplish things that are worth while. Many immigrants from other countries have come to America with no equipment except hope and indomitable perseverance. They have been handicapped by lack of education, by poverty stricken conditions, and by lack of native intelligence, yet plain ordinary perseverance has not only enabled them to acquire wealth and standing but also to acquire education and real intelligence.
Perseverance means a continual going forward in spite of obstacles. When failure comes it means starting over again with renewed determination and without loss of hope. When success arrives it means not being content to stop at that point but to continually strive to offer opportunities to others who have not as yet succeeded, but who have the desire to do so through their own efforts. By doing this a man achieves his own success in fuller measure, and, which is far more important, he helps many other individuals along the road to success and thereby multiplies the benefit that he brings to his community, his state and his nation.
H. B. MONJAR – March, 1936