Friday, September 11, 2009

Man In Society is like a flower, Blown in its native bed. 'Tis there alone
His faculties expanded in full bloom shine out, there only reach their proper use.

The primal duties shine aloft like stars; The charities that soothe, and heal, and bless, Are scatter'd at the feet of man like flowers.

1. Membership in Society.—Many fail to get hold of the idea that they are members of society. They seem to suppose that the social machinery of the world is self-operating. They cast their first ballot with an emotion of pride perhaps, but are sure to pay their first tax with a groan. They see political organizations in active existence; the parish, and the church, and other important bodies that embrace in some form of society all men, are successfully operated; and yet these young men have no part or lot in the matter. They do not think of giving a day's time to society.

2. Begin Early.—One of the first things a young man should do is to see that he is acting his part in society. The earlier this is begun the better. I think that the opponents of secret societies in colleges have failed to estimate the benefit which it must be to every member to be obliged to contribute to the support of his particular organization, and to assume personal care and responsibility as a member. If these societies have a tendency to teach the lessons of which I speak, they are a blessed thing.

3. Do Your Part.—Do your part, and be a man among men. Assume your portion of social responsibility, and see that you discharge it well. If you do not do this, then you are mean, and society has the right to despise you just as much as it chooses to do so. You are, to use a word more emphatic than agreeable, a sneak, and have not a claim upon your neighbors for a single polite word.

4. A Whining Complainer.—Society, as it is called, is far more apt to pay its dues to the individual than the individual to society. Have you, young man, who are at home whining over the fact that you cannot get into society, done anything to give you a claim to social recognition? Are you able to make any return for social recognition and social privileges? Do you know anything? What kind of coin do you propose to pay in the discharge of the obligation which comes upon you with social recognition? In other words, as a return for what you wish to have society do for you, what can you do for society? This is a very important question—more important to you than to society. The question is, whether you will be a member of society by right, or by courtesy. If you have so mean a spirit as to be content to be a beneficiary of society—to receive favors and to confer none—you have no business in the society to which you aspire. You are an exacting, conceited fellow.

5. What Are You Good For?—Are you a good beau, and are you willing to make yourself useful in waiting on the ladies on all occasions? Have you a good set of teeth, which you are willing to show whenever the wit of the company gets off a good thing? Are you a true, straightforward, manly fellow, with whose healthful and uncorrupted nature it is good for society to come in contact? In short, do you possess anything of any social value? If you do, and are willing to impart it, society will yield itself to your touch. If you have nothing, then society, as such, owes you nothing. Christian philanthropy may put its arm around you, as a lonely young man, about to spoil for want of something, but it is very sad and humiliating for a young man to be brought to that. There are people who devote themselves to nursing young men, and doing them good. If they invite you to tea, go by all means, and try your hand. If in the course of the evening, you can prove to them that your society is desirable, you have won a point. Don't be patronized.

6. The Morbid Condition.—Young men, you are a get into a morbid state of mind, which declines them to social intercourse. They become devoted to business with such exclusiveness, that all social intercourse is irksome. They go out to tea as if they were going to jail, and drag themselves to a party as to an execution. This disposition is thoroughly morbid, and to be overcome by going where you are invited, always, and with a sacrifice of feeling.

7. The Common Blunder.—Don't shrink from contact with anything but bad morals. Men who affect your unhealthy minds with antipathy, will prove themselves very frequently to be your best friends and most delightful companions. Because a man seems uncongenial to you, who are squeamish and foolish, you have no right to shun him. We become charitable by knowing men. We learn to love those whom we have despised by rubbing against them. Do you not remember some instance of meeting a man or woman whom you had never previously known or cared to know—an individual, perhaps, against whom you have entertained the strongest prejudices—but to whom you became bound by a lifelong friendship through the influence of a three days' intercourse? Yet, if you had not thus met, you would have carried through life the idea that it would be impossible for you to give your fellowship to such an individual.

8. The Foolishness of Man.—God has introduced into human character infinite variety, and for you to say that you do not love and will not associate with a man because he is unlike you, is not only foolish but wrong. You are to remember that in the precise manner and decree in which a man differs from you, do you differ from him; and that from his standpoint you are naturally as repulsive to him, as he, from your standpoint, is to you. So, leave all this talk of congeniality to silly girls and transcendental dreamers.

9. Do Business in Your Way and Be Honest.—Do your business in your own way, and concede to every man the privilege which you claim for yourself. The more you mix with men, the less you will be disposed to quarrel, and the more charitable and liberal will you become. The fact that you do not understand a man, is quite as likely to be your fault as his. There are a good many chances in favor of the conclusion that, if you fail to like an individual whose acquaintance you make it is through your own ignorance and illiberality. So I say, meet every man honestly; seek to know him; and you will find that in those points in which he differs from you rests his power to instruct you, enlarge you, and do you good. Keep your heart open for everybody, and be sure that you shall have your reward. You shall find a jewel under the most uncouth exterior; and associated with homeliest manners and oddest ways and ugliest faces, you will find rare virtues, fragrant little humanities, and inspiring heroisms.

10. Without Society, Without Influence.—Again: you can have no influence unless you are social. An unsocial man is as devoid of influence as an ice-peak is of verdure. It is through social contact and absolute social value alone that you can accomplish any great social good. It is through the invisible lines which you are able to attach to the minds with which you are brought into association alone that you can tow society, with its deeply freighted interests, to the great haven of your hope.

11. The Revenge of Society.—The revenge which society takes upon the man who isolates himself, is as terrible as it is inevitable. The pride which sits alone will have the privilege of sitting alone in its sublime disgust till it drops into the grave. The world sweeps by the man, carelessly, remorselessly, contemptuously. He has no hold upon society, because he is no part of it.

12. The Conclusion of the Whole Matter.—You cannot move men until you are one of them. They will not follow you until they have heard your voice, shaken your hand, and fully learned your principles and your sympathies. It makes no difference how much you know, or how much you are capable of doing. You may pile accomplishment upon acquisition mountain high; but if you fail to be a social man, demonstrating to society that your lot is with the rest, a little child with a song in its mouth, and a kiss for all and a pair of innocent hands to lay upon the knees, shall lead more hearts and change the direction of more lives than you.