Still, the birds keep singing

I know a man who , when he was young, swore when he lost at sports, was sometimes verbally abusive to his family, and tended to talk too much and too loudly. In a way, he was an extremist. But as he really worked to temper his thoughts—to be more loving and truthful—he became more pleasant to be around.

His experience makes me think of something the founder of this magazine, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "We protect our dwellings more securely after a robbery, and our jewels have been stolen; so, after losing those jewels of character,—temperance, virtue, and truth, — the young man is awakened to bar his door against further robberies" (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 201).

Many people may think of extreme behavior not so much in terms of the man described above, as in terms of the religious fanaticism that manipulates boys and girls to detonate themselves as suicide bombers, or that plans retaliatory violence in the name of religious doctrines, Nevertheless, convictions that are far from moderate, or temperate, are common today in politics, religion, and sports—in daily life around the world. For example, some of us may recall the strife in our own families caused when someone wields an iron will and rejects reasonable compromise. Others might remember the bedlam in their cities during or after a sporting event. A few may even live in quiet bedroom communities like mine, where proposed increases in public school taxes have aroused shrill accusations from people who have strong opinions on both sides of the issue.

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July 5, 2004

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