"The one thing"

The defeat of a good undertaking is always regrettable, not only because of the failure to realize an ideal in the specific instance, but especially because of the discouragement which it imposes upon the many who are striving to bring about better things. It is well for us to know that every noble, unselfish enterprise ought to succeed; more than this, we should know that it is possible and natural for it to succeed, because being right, in keeping with divine law, God is on its side. What with all the need and all this authorization and promise, the failure of a good cause to win becomes the more pitiful because it is usually traceable to the ignorance or stumbling zeal of those who are laboring heroically for it. Their narrowness of vision, their intemperance of statement, or their condemnatory urgency of address proves an offense to those whom they would benefit; and thus they put an end to their usefulness.

In ethical movements this human unwisdom most frequently takes the form of an overemphasis of a minor matter. A distorted sense of proportion, or the failure to perceive that a prevailing objectionable condition or habit is an effect and not a cause, crowds some secondary reform to the front and insists that one's salvation is to be determined, not by his character, but by the position he takes on this or that sequent and debatable issue. The fundamental or causative are thus made to give place, that a subsidiary question may monopolize the stage, and what amount to coercive mental measures are resorted to where only the illumination of Truth and the attraction of Love can ever be effective.

In no respect, perhaps, were the wisdom and strength of our Leader made more manifest than in her persistent refusal to consent to the identification of the Christian Science movement with side issues. With momentous persistence she ever stood with St. Paul and said, "This one thing I do." Unnumbered efforts were made to induce her to champion some incidental reform movement, to swerve from her course, but with eye fixed upon the pole-star she veered neither to the right nor to the left. She heartily sympathized with every worthy endeavor in the line of human betterment and contributed thoughtfully and heartily to their advance, but with keen, far-reaching vision she saw the danger of substituting devotion to issues for devotion to Principle.

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"Live and let live"
June 13, 1914

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