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About The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 22, 1894)
trolled by fear, or beggars governed by rewards by alms.
Right and wrong exist in the nature of things. Murder was just
as criminal before as after the promulgation of the ten command
ments. 8. Many of the clergy, some editors and some writers of letters
who have answered mo have said that suicide was the worst of
crimes that a man should better murder somebody else than him
feelf. One clergyman gives as a reason for this statement that the
suicide dies in an act of sin, and, therefore.he had better kill another
person. Probably ho wouid commit a less crime if ho would murder
his wife or mother. I do not see that it is any worse to die than to
live in sin. To say that it is not as wicked to murder another as
yourself seems absurd. The man about to kill himself wishes to die.
Why is it better for him to kill another man, who wishes to live?
To my mind it seems clear that you had better injure yourself
than another. Better be a spendthirf t than a thief. Better throw
away your own money than steal the money of another. Better kill
yourself if you wish to die than murder one whose life is full of joy.
The clergy tell us that God is everywhere, but that it is oae of the
greatest posriblo crimes to rush into his presence. It is wonderful
how much they know about God and how little about their fellow
men. Wonderful the amount of their information about other
worlds and how limited is their knowledgo of thie. There may or
may not be an infinite being; I neither affirm or deny. I am honest
enough to say that I do not know. I am candid enough to admit
that the question is beyond the limitations of my mind. Yet I
think I know as much on that subject as another human knows or
ever knew, and that is nothing. I do not say that there is not
another world, another life, neither do I say that there is. I say
that I do not know. It seems to me that every sane and honest
man must say the same. But if there be an infinitely good God and
another world, then the infinitely good God will be just as good to us
in that world as he is in this. If this infinitely good God loves his
children in this world he will love them in another. If he -loves
a man when he is alive lie will not hate him the instant he is dead.
If wo are the children of an infinitely wise and powerful God, he
knew exactly what we would do the temptations that we could and
could not withstand; knew exactly the effect that everything would
have upon us; knew under what circumstances we would take our
lives and produced such circumstances himself. It is perfectly ap
parent that there are many people incapable by nature of bearing
tho burdens of life, incapaole of preserving their mental poise in
stress and strain of disaster, disease and loss, and who, by failure, by
misfortune and want are driven to despair and insanity, in whose
darkened minds there comes, like a Hash of lightning in the night,
tho thought of death, a thought so strong, so vivid, that all fear is
lost, all ties broken, all duties, all obligations, all hopes forgotten,
and naught remains except a fierce and wild desire to die. Thous
ands and thousands become moody, melancholy, brood upon loss of
money, of friends, until reason abdicates and frenzy takes possession
of the soul. If there be an infinitely wise and powerful God, all this
was known to him from the beginning, and he so created things, es
tablished relations, put in operation causes and effects that all that
has happened was the necessary result of his own acts.
9. Nearly all who have tried to answer what I said have been ex
ceedingly careful to misquote me and then answer something that I
never uttered. They have declared that I have advised people who
were in trouble, somewhat annoyed, to kill themselves; that I have
told men who have lost their money, who had failed in business,
who were-not in good health, to kill themselves at once, without
aking into consideration any duty that they owed to wives, chil
dren, friends or society.
No man has a right to leave his wife to fight the battle alone if
he is able to help. No man has a right to desert his children if he
can possibly be of use. As long as he can add to the comfort of
those he loves, as long as he can stand between wife and misery,
between child and want, as long as he can be of use, it is his duty
to remain; I believe in the cheerful view, in looking at the sunny
side of things, in bearing with fortitude the evils of life, in struggling
against adversity, in finding the fuel of laughter even in disaster, in
havintr confidence in to-morrow, in finding the pearl ef joy amid
the flints and cbards, and in changing by the alchemy of patience
even evil things to good. I believe in the gospel of cheerfulness, of
courage and good nature.
Of the future I have no fear. My fate is the fate of the world, of
all that live. My anxieties are about this life, this world. About
the phantoms called Gods and their impossible hells, I have no care,
I neither affirm nor deny, I hope for all of the children of men. I
have never denied the existence of another world, nor the immortal
ity of the soul. For many years I have said that the idea of immor
tality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed in tho human heart,
with itB countless waves of hope and fear, beating against the shores
and rocks of times and fato, was not born of any book, nor of any
. creed, nor of any religion. It wad born of human affection and will
continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and
darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death.
What I deny is the immortality of pain, the eternity of torture.
After all, the instinct of self preservation is strong. People do not
kill themselves on the advice of friends or enemies, all wish to be
happy, to enjoy life, all wish for food and raiment and friends, and
as long as lire gives joy the idea of self-destruction never enters the
The oppressors, the tryants, those who trample on tho rights of
others, those who put wages below the living point, the ministers
who make people insane by preaching the dogma of eternal pain,
these are tho men who drive the weak, the suffering and the help
less down to death.
It will not do to say that God has appointed a time for each to
die. Of this there is and there can be no evidence. There is no
evidence that any God sideB with the right or helps the weak, pro
tects the innocent or rescues the oppressed. Evon the clergy admit
that their God, through all ages, has allowed his friends, his wor
shipers, to be imprisoned, tortured and murdered by his enemies.
Such is the protection of God. Billions of prayers have been uttered.
Has ono been answered? Who sends plague, pestilence and famine?
Who bids the earthquake devour and the volcano to overwhelm?
10. Again I say that it is wonderful to me, that so many men, so
many women, endure and carry their burdens to the natural end;
that so many, in spite of "cge, ache and penury," guard with trem
bling hands the spark of life; that prisoners for life toil and suffer
to tho last; that the helpless wretches in poor-houses and asylums
cling to life; that tho exiles in Siberia, loaded with chains, scarred
with the knout, live on; that the incurables, whose every breath is a
pang, and for whom the future has only pain, still fear tho merciful
touch and clasp of death.
It is but a few steps at most from the cradle to the grave a shoit
journey. The suicide hastens, shortens the path, loses the afternoon,
the twilight, the dusk of life's day, loses what ho does not want,
what he cannot bear. In tho tempest of despair, in the blind fury
of madnes3, or in the calm of thought and choice, tho beleaguered
soul finds tho security of death.
Let us leave the 'dead where nature leaves them. We know of
nothing of any realm that lies beyond the horizon of unknown,
beyond the end of life. Let us be honest with ourselves and others.
Let us pity the suffering, the despairing, the men and women hunted
and pursued by grief and shame, by misery and want, by chance
and fate, until their only friend is death.
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