We may naturally believe that it is not the singular prosperity of the few, but the greater well-being of all that is most pleasing in the sight of the Creator and Preserver of men. What appears to me to be man’s decline, is His eye, advancement; what afflicts me is acceptable to Him. A state of equality is perhaps less elevated, but it is more just: and its justice constitutes its greatness and its beauty. I would strive, then, to raise myself to this point of the divine contemplation and thence to view and judge the concerns of men.
It is counterproductive to assume we have created every misfortune in our life, as if we had made a conscious intention to do so. That kind of thinking leads to guilt and despair. Nevertheless, a sincere willingness to acknowledge that we have certain beliefs that have created our situation will enrich our approach to working through obstacles.
Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long cherished or a privilege he has long possessed that he is set free — he has set himself free — for higher dreams, for greater privileges.
To live by the code of “do as you please regardless” is to become a prisoner of your own moral corruption. It is to be troubled by guilt and tormented by the inconsistency of living contrary to the demands of your own conscience and moral nature. You simply cannot be satisfied while ignoring any part of your nature.
The price of greatness is responsibility.
The apportioning of blame [is] the means by which society obtains a modicum of revenge for the wrong it has suffered, expiates its own guilt for such responsibility as it may have had for the event in question, and finally seeks to prevent a repetition of the disaster.
All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity.
The decisive part of our seeking is not our human ascent to God, but his descent to us. Without God’s descent there is no human ascent. The secret of the quest lies not in our brilliance but in His grace. What puts us on the way is not the daring and ingenuity of our discovery of paths, but the disclosure of the one who has preceded us on all our paths.
Greatness is a matter not of size but of quality, and it is within the reach of every one of us. Greatness lies in the faithful performance of whatever duties life places upon us and in the generous performance of the small acts of kindness that God has made possible for us. There is greatness in patient endurance; in unyielding loyalty to a goal; in resistance to the temptation to betray the best we know; in speaking up for the truth when it is assailed; in steadfast adherence to vows given and promises made. God does not ask us to do extraordinary things. He asks us to do ordinary things extraordinarily well.