Signs of the Times

["The Perversions of Fear," from the American, New York, N. Y.]

There can be no clean understanding where there is fear. We can comprehend nothing when we are afraid of it. We see nothing clearly. All outlines are obscured by a sort of fog. Nobody understands any person or thing he is afraid of. There can be no good work done in fear. The purpose of apprenticeship is not only the acquisition of knowledge, but the abolition of fear, for the difference between a master and an amateur is that the master's hand is sure and the tyro's wavers. ... As John says: "Perfect love casteth out fear." The first effect of love upon the human spirit is one of liberation. ... Courage is the cleanest emotion of the soul. It is identical with virtue. In fact, the word virtue etymologically goes back to vir, a man, and suggests manliness and fearlessness. It is a strange contortion by which so many have arrived at the conviction that the only way to preserve virtue is by the height and thickness of its prison walls. Fear is the great perverter. Of strength it makes weakness, of love it makes jealousy, of indignation it makes spite, of loyalty it makes treachery, of beauty it makes ugliness, and of religion, that supreme blossoming of the fearless soul in the face of a friendly Deity, it makes such dark spirits as fanaticism, intolerance, superstition, and fumbling cowardice. The first prayer the mother ought to teach her child is, "Make me unafraid." Fearlessness not only is the foundation of morals, it is the basis of character. It is the secret of good manners; it is the indispensable element in charm.

March 3, 1923

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