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WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD?

\Y i : borrow the title from the prince of paradox. We have not read Air Chesterton's hook, and consequently do not know how lie answers the question; but tho title takes our ."ancy. lb is suggestive; it sets ono thinking Is there any tiling wrong with the world? Looking out* on this blight summer morning over gveem bill* and smiling gardens, listening to the piping of the thrush, and watching the, careless sparrow hunting for hifv breakfast in the roadway, we may' incline to doubt it. Tliero goes a happy youngster off to school eager for an hour of play before the lx;ll rings ; and here comes a smiling girl hopping along th<s pavement on an early errand for her mother. It is not till the men and women appear on their way to business that the signs of comething out of joint are evident/ The tense faces, the anxious eyes, the scramble for the tram, are the marks that betray. We remember the old Scotsman who remarked " It's a weary world," and immediately retorted on himself " It's no the world that's weary, but the folk that's in't." The -world is all right, taking it as a whole; but men and ■women do not seem in these days to hold tha secret of how to make the best of it. Therei is a prevailing feeling that we do not get so much of happiness as we should, a persistent tendency to bo dissatisfied. We keep 'wistfully dreaming of golden days which never dawn, of brimming cups which somehow never fill. In all our pilgrimage wo have but onoe met a man who said that he was satisfied with life. He was not a very old man ; he had spent his days in a remote township, far from the railway and tho throb of things, living quietly, leisurely, usefully, and doing much good in his time; ho had enjoyed life thoroughly, he said, and was satisfied. Most of us are left with tho feeling that something is lacking. Why? What is wrong?

We are not ingenuous enough to suppose that the answer can be put in a single word or a single sentence. We do not imagine that the trouble is so very simple that one can put his finger at the same time on the cause and on the remedy. Man is much too complex a creature- and society is much too complex an organism for so easy a diagnosis and prescription. But we believe that we can indicate one of tin reasons for tho unrest of which most of us arc conscious, and to point the way to a partial remedy at least. Whether we ourselves or any of our readers will have grace given him to follow tho path of wisdom is another matter. Ono thing that is wrong with tho world is that we are all in to> mighty big a hurry. Whatever we do we want 'to do it quickly. In all departments of life the demand is for haste. Every activity must be speeded up. All our goals must be reached immediately. Wo have forgotten the meaning of patience and perseverance. We cannot wait for time to work. We. miss the satisfaction of tha passing day as we press on feverishly to the morrow. Life ha* a thousand gifts to offer us, but 'wo cannot stay to take them from her hand. A few generations ago wo discovered that mechanical proci;s>cs could be achieved at a i;reat speed. Pins could be made by the million in a day ; nowspaiwrs printed, thousands of copies in an hour ; coaches hauled along railroads a mile a minute; and a multitude of other thiusis done at similar rapid rates. The discovery of the.-e possibilities and the realisation of them in our common experience have excited us, fill we have imagined that everything we are concerned with can be hastened in like manner. We fancv thai, wo can enjoy our pleasures, acquire knowledge, drink the wine of life, in the same lightning fashion ; that we can hustle our spirits as we do our bodies. It is not that wo were left unreminded of our limitations. Nature around us still moves in her old slow way. There ia but one einirise in twenty-four hours, but one summer in tho year. It still takes bis months for harvests to ripen. But we have given little hoed. In our folly we have dreamed that \y<" were above Nature, and could do what she could not. Our machinery lias turned our head ; we, want to move "as fast as it does.

See how much we try to do in a day. Eight hours, it may be, must be given to business; but our young people are up in the morning playing tennis before breakfast. They have not time to walk to town-they must bicycle or take the tram. Be sure they have some private engagement in their lunch hour, something to do, someone to see. They haven't time to take their mcaN. Homo in the evening, they must be olf again to a class or a club or an amusement. They have no leisure, no rest.. The week-end or a holiday takes them to the seaside. Otf they go laden with fishing rod and gun, camera and sketching satchel. They are going to do everything in 48 hours, and walk and climb and bathe besides. They are always hurrying from one thing to another. And we older fellows—old fogies, we had almost said—are little better. If we don't play tennis in the morning, wo go out as regularly in the evening. Wo belong to so many things, and thero is always a meeting of this or that. We try to do too much. Wc treat like machines, as though we could go on at full speed all the time, and the faster we wero moving the more we were getting done. And when we get off the chain we want to spin over half the island in a motor car, and visit a score of places which we have not seen before, though it may be wo have only the Saturday afternoon and Sunday to do it in. We have forgotten the meaning of rest am] relaxation. We enjoy neither our work nor our play. *******

We are in far too great a hurry to make money. We want to . get rich quickly. And wo don't measure wealth m> modestly as our fathers did. A pittance, as it seems to us, satisfied them, nor did they think it too slow in coming if they achieved it by the time they were old. W<; aim at a fortune before wc reach middle life, so that wo may have many years to enjoy it and plenty of it to enjoy. What is the result? We cannot meanwhile get the good of what we possess in our eagerner.s to possess more: and when we have amassed our fortnno wo have lost the faculty of using it either to pleasure or to profit. We will not gather rosebuds while we may, determined as we aro 'to seize handfuls of full-blown roses by and by ; and when the full-bloom roses come they wither in our grasp. We have starved our tastes, we don't know what to do with our money, wo spend it and get no satisfaction out of it. Half a lifetime gone in feverish worry is followed by half a lifetime spent in ennui and weariness.

Or we are far too eager in our pursuit of pleasure. We can't be content with a few good things; we must havo many and more. We take our pleasures alj top speed-. We must crush as much as possible into the time we have at our disposal. Too many engagements in the week, too many places to go, too much to do; and consequently we don't really enjoy any of them. It is not only that we tire ourselves and satiate ourselves; but we don't give ourselves time for tho pleasure to soak in. We have forgotten that enough is as good a.s a feast, and that half a. loaf is not only, better than no "bread, but: better than a, surfeit.

It is the same with our books. Which of us who reads at all will not. plead guilty to reading far too much? We are in a hurry to teach our children knowledge, with the- result that we rob them of an undue proportion of their childhood, and cram them with much ill-assorted, undigested information. And we ourselves turn from volume to volume, ever greodily reading, never quietly thinking. We would learn more if we read lesu. We would gain more wisdom if we pondered what we vend. We seek, but we do not find, because we seek too con&Luitly. Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum Of things for ever speaking. 'Hiat nothing of itself will como. But we must istill be seeking? One of the saddest losses wo incur with all our haste is the lofs of friendships. Which of us has time for friends. Companions, it may be, we. cannot do without ; but friends are not .so easily come by or kept. We have not time to cultivate those closer intimacies which demand opportunity and leisure. When can we get the chance to pay a visit, as distinct from a call? How many friendly letters do we write in a year, and how many of them consist mainly of apology? What pains do we take to keep our friendships in repair, or to fill up the inevitable gaps made by the hand of time? Wc bid fair, most of us, to dree out a lonely age, if we are spared. *******

We are grown impatient of delay in public and social affairs.. We are continually carping at the slow wheels of progress. ITie reformers want to see every abuse righted at once. Thev would fix the millennium, in their time-table, 'for next week. There is no realisation of the principle that all great movements proceed by degrees. Koine was not built in a day. Aristotle did not come to his own till tho Middle Ages. It is well-nigh two thousand vears *ince Jesus of Nazareth taught the fatherhood of God. and the brotherhood of man is only beginning to be understood. Freedom—such freedom as we know—has been the growth of centuries. Parliamentary institutions had their inception before the Normans conquered England. Bacon laid the foundations of modern science; how long before the superstructure began to be imposing!_ Music dates back to the earliest dawn of history; it was the nineteenth century before Beethoven appeared. There was an old tag which we learned at school—wisdom in doggerel. It ran : Slowly moves the march of ages, Slowly grows the forest king; Slowly "cometh to perfection Every great and noble thing.

The perfecting of human society is a noble work, and it will not be dono in a day. No one n«?d hope to «eo much progress in his lifetime. Sufficient bo it if ho can sec the effort going steadily on. Without rest, but without haste; that should bo the motto of everyone who labors for the betterment of the social order. It's a long, long way to every Tipperary where it's worth a man's whilo for his heart to bo. ******* Socialists are often people who imagine that all inequalities can be levelled and all injustices righted in a twelvemonth or so. They would stir up elemental fires till tho "present organisation of society is blown up. and look for the debris to ana nge itself in ideal order. It is as though they expected a volcanic eruption to issue in a garden Mount Pelee. San Francisco, Valparaiso. Ambrim, all tell a different tele. So does the French Revolution. llor* blurry, less speed, is a Law that governs all social change Our friends the Prohibitionists have forgotten that, and given away what was once a promising, chance of seeing their experiment fried. They were carrying the electorates one or two at a time ; they wore sweeping away many licensed houses by the reduction vote ; had they gone on as they wore doing they would have covered the. Dominion in a couple of generations Bat they could not wait. They must clamor for the chance of a sudden eiean sweep. "IT.ey would have a clearance of the wliolo Dominion at once. They demanded the bare majority, and sacrificed the reduction issue. Their goal has receded out cf sight The churches of late years have shown signs of a similar impatience. They continually counting then memlxTs. poring over statistics, worrying their souls over the elowness of then- growth. They-—or some of them —have persuaded themselves that it is possible to override the nature of things aiid move forwards by leaps and bounds. Certain emissaries from America have deluded them into imagining that th-:-y may enter a city of sinners and leave it a fortnight afterwards a. city of saints. Their faith in thew inissioners and their disappointment afterwards aro equally pathetic. Human nature will not bo driven: it moves slowly. It will take its time. If the mountain be worth the climbing, bo sure it will take lung to climb. If the goal be worth the reaching, wc rhall rea«ii it. the sooner for not striving to get llieie too quickly. *******

In our individual life and in our social life wo are in too big n- hurry. We try to. do tog> mue.li a:>d to tiavel to. > fast. It is not that we should give up our faith either in the worth of tilings or in t!upossibility of progress ; it is that, we should l>e content, with less for ourselves ; nd work more patiently for the world. Si> far as the joy and salisfiniien which we crave i.s concerned, we would assuiv-dly gain more by not seeking {■•> grasp so much. And as for the golden dry that is to be.

it will dawn the sooner - ; :' '.-.•:■ toil for it with a mote undaunted f.'ith and a more enduring hope. Hold your <up io iho fountain, and the fountain will iiil it. He that believcth will not make hart".

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141121.2.4

Bibliographic details

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD?, Issue 15656, 21 November 1914

Word Count
2,372

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD? Issue 15656, 21 November 1914

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