Rising Above Popular Opinion

There is in the human heart a secret desire for popular commendation which ofttimes is productive of either a fear or a defiant indifference of what others may say. How often, when about to decide upon an important step, we let ourselves speculate as to what others will think of it, and let our actions be governed by the doubt or fear which naturally follows. Even a worthy aim may be smothered with the cowardly warning, "Look out, or you will have every one talking."

The Master, Mrs. Eddy tells us, "never weakened in his own personal sense of righteousness because of another's wickedness or because of the minifying of his own goodness by another" (Miscellany, p. 227). Then why, if we too are seeking to be governed by the one Mind, should there be any fear on our part of what men may say? Popular opinion is but a will-o'-the-wisp, partial and unstable. It judges according to personal sense, and its praise or censure is generally based upon hearsay or its own misconceptions. If we feel worthy because mortals are thinking well of us, our reputation is built upon sand. Tomorrow they may think otherwise, and then we shall be left in midair with only a vain belief in self-justification to uphold us. To desire popular favor is to desire the favor of mortal mind; and since mortal mind is always wrong, we should neither fear its criticism nor desire its praise. Prestige and name have nothing to do with divine favor.

To let "they say" influence our motives and acts is a dangerous thing. It has made cowards and hypocrites of most people at one time or another. Wisdom has said, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Fear of popular opinion leads to self-consciousness, mental penury, duplicity, and binds us fast with chains of conservatism. So long as we wonder what others are thinking about us, or whether we have behaved in a way that will cause them to speak well of us, we are standing for self rather than for Principle, and are wandering in the maze of personal suggestion, where spiritual vision is beclouded. A look, a word, a gesture, and we interpret it according to our own sensitive fears, jumping to the conclusion that false report has been spread, when it may not have been so at all.

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"Thou art the man"
January 27, 1917

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