Manvotional: The Majesty of Strength

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 13, 2013 · 58 comments

in Manvotionals

strength

“The Majesty of Strength”
From Royal Manhood, 1899
 By James Isaac Vance

“O, east is east and west is west and never twain shall meet
Till earth and sky stand presently at God’s great judgment seat;
But there is neither east nor west, border, nor breed, nor birth.
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!” —Kipling

Strength is the glory of manhood. Beauty is not, for beauty is only to be displayed. Culture is not, for culture is chiefly for self-glorification. Fluency is not; a parrot may be fluent. Agreeability is not; a fool may make himself agreeable. Not smoothness, nor plausibility; not softness nor polish, but strength is the glory of manhood. Manhood and strength are synonymous.

Where in all the sweep of freaks and failures, of mawkish sentiments and senseless blathery, can there be found an object to excite deeper disgust than one of these thin, vapid, affected, driveling little doodles dressed up in men’s clothes, but without a thimbleful of brains in his pate or an ounce of manhood in his anatomy? He is worse than weak—he is a weaklet. What can he do? He can squeak with his little voice, strut with his unathletic members and gabble diluted twaddle. He can sigh and pose and outclass the monkey in apish arts. This shitepoke specimen of man tells us that he is tired of life, but of work he can never grow tired, for to that he is a stranger. He affects to look with great disdain on common toil and common people, but the world is grateful that such a specimen of the genus homo is himself uncommon.

Many a man has failed in life for no other reason save that he was weak. He had a good heart, but he was weak. He was popular, generous, gentlemanly, but weak. His opportunities were fine, his capital ample, his future inspiring, but he was weak and went to nothing. The ideal Christian has something to him besides syllabub. He must do more than sing Psalms, and testify in the meeting. He is not at his best when the world slaps him in the face, knocks him down, and stamps him. He must be humble, but also strong. He must practice self-denial, but should also possess self-respect. He is taught to forgive his enemies, but also to be angry and sin not. A lovely priest in Paris had incurred the enmity of the sectarians by his liberality. One day a bigot, who was also a bully, met him on the street and dealt him a rousing blow on the cheek. Quietly the lovely priest turned, saying: “My Master teaches me when thus struck to turn the other cheek also.” Delivering a still heavier blow on that cheek, the bully said: “And what does your master tell you now?” To this the lovely priest replied, as he laid aside his cloak, “The authorities are divided, but the weight of authority is in favor of the view which I now adopt as I proceed to give you the worst thrashing of your life.” It is not likely that at the final reckoning, the lovely priest will find much against him for that day’s work.

Strength calls for self-restraint and self-control, but also for self-respect and self-assertion.

If one expects to amount to anything in life, he must be strong. Barriers are to be surmounted, discouragements silenced, temptations resisted, and for all this there is needed a manhood invincible and self-reliant, strong.

The voice of our highest destiny speaks. It points the way to the summit, achievement of life’s best ambition. It voices our deepest and constant need. It says: “Be strong.”

What is strength?

It is the absence of excuse-making. “If I had that fellow’s chance, if my circumstances were different, if my capital were larger”—out upon all such unmanly whimpering. The music of strength is not set in the key of whines. We must accept life as it is and make the best of it. Whenever a speaker begins with an apology, you may know his audience is to feed on chaff. Strength strikes the word “excuse” from its vocabulary.

“‘If I were a man,’ said the restless lad,
‘I’d never give up and be still and sad.
Were my name but known in the lists of life
I’d never say “die” till I’d won the strife.
But who will challenge the steel of youth,
Though his heart be brave and his motto “truth?”
There’s work to be done in this life’s short span,
But alack-a-day! I am not a man.’

“‘If I were a boy,’ said the toiler gray,
‘I’d fashion my lot in a better way.
I’d hope and labor both day and night
And make ambition my beacon light.
I’d bend the oar, nor drift nor dream
Were my bark but launched upon youth’s bright stream,
Till I reach the haven of peace and joy—
But, alack-a-day! I am not a boy.’”

Strength never comes down to such sentimental doggerel as this. It may fail, but it will bear defeat with fortitude.

Strength is industry. Hard work is only another name for genius. Weakness is often only another name for laziness. It may call itself indisposition, leisure, or some other highsounding platitude, but that doesn’t change the sluggish inside. A lazy man is a butt of ridicule for all creation. He may have a bank account, but in the world of brawn and brain he is a dummy. The men who have achieved conspicuous success in medicine, law, literature, art, trade, have all been tireless workers. Strength is self-reliance.

Henry Ward Beecher used to tell this story of how he was taught when a boy to depend on himself.

“I was sent to the blackboard, and went, uncertain, full of whimpering.

“‘That lesson must be learned,’ said my teacher in a quiet tone, but with terrible intensity. All explanations and excuses he trod under foot with utter scornfulness. ‘I want that problem; I don’t want any reason why you haven’t it,’ he would say.

”I did study two hours.’

“‘That’s nothing to me; I want the lesson. You need not study it at all, or you may study it ten hours, just to suit yourself. I want the lesson.’

“It was tough for a green boy, but it seasoned me. In less than a month, I had the most intense sense of intellectual independence and courage to defend my recitations.

“One day his cold, calm voice fell upon me in the midst of a demonstration, ‘No.’

“I hesitated, and then went back to the beginning; and, on reaching the same point again, ‘No!’ uttered in atone of conviction, barred my progress.

“‘The next!’ And I sat down in red confusion.

“He, too, was stopped with ‘No!’ but went right on, finished, and, as he sat down, was rewarded with ‘Very well.’

“‘Why,’ whimpered I, ‘I recited it just as he did, and you said “No!’”

“‘Why didn’t you say “Yes,” and stick to it? It is not enough to know your lesson; you must know that you know it. You have learned nothing until you are sure. If all the world says “No,” your business is to say “Yes,” and prove it.’”

One must be sure of himself. He must have self-poise. This is not conceit. Conceit is all wind, and the point of a cambric needle can puncture it to death. Self-reliance is the absence of timidity. It is alertness and forethought. It is preparation and decision.

Strength is reliable as well as self-reliant. It may be counted on when the fight waxes hot. One must command the confidence of others as well as his own. The wretched thing about so many who fail is that they cannot be depended on. They are goody-goody, but not reliable. It is a waste of time to dread the disagreeable. It must be faced promptly and duty manfully met.

There must be moral as well as physical strength. There must be the courage that stands to its convictions, whatever people may think or say. The hardest mouth to face is not the cannon’s. It is rather that from whose throat comes the insistent roar of the fickle populace. The majestic strength of royal manhood treats this as an elephant does a fly.

There are temptations to be resisted. Nothing short of moral strength suffices for this. Innumerable iniquities solicit tolerance or indulgence, and if yielded to, they will damn here as well as hereafter. A young man came to Nashville a church member and with a clean moral record behind him. He had unusual advantages for success in a noble profession. But he began going to the devil for no other reason than he was weak. His companions were the kind that make the public suspicious, and the people who associate with them impure and dishonest. Two years were enough to bring his prospects in life to zero. He will whine about his poor chances, and the little encouragement given by friends. The truth is he killed his chances with moral cowardice. Strength means moral courage, and ability to stand against ridicule and popular clamor. Strength is not like the willow that bends low to every breeze, but rather like the oak that stands stiff in the tempest, or like the granite cliff against which the mad sea dashes itself to pieces, or like the mountains that lift their calm faces toward the silent stars defiant of all the bluff of storm.

This is what it means to be strong, and before such a life the world makes way. Such manhood is in command. The world grows roomy now. In state and church, in public and private life, in work for men and work for God, the call is for men of strength.

Strong in purpose and strong in action; strong within and strong without; strong against foes that are seen and strong against foes that are unseen; all the way up and all the way down, all the way around and all the way through; first, last and always—strong! It needs neither title nor crown to argue the imperial majesty of such manhood.

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sean July 13, 2013 at 9:52 pm

This is a truly inspiring post. Thank you!

2 Andrew July 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm

“but the world is grateful that such a specimen of the genus homo is himself uncommon”

It strikes me as truly sad that this statement is much less true now than it was at the time of this writing.

3 Michael July 13, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Insightful and motivating.

Strength takes discipline, both physical and mental, which is something that seems to be lacking in our current generation. Discipline means patience, which is a lost virtue in our age of instant gratification.

Love the post; something that should be read by more!

4 dave July 14, 2013 at 5:23 am

Incredible truth ~ Bravo!!

5 I.T. July 14, 2013 at 7:24 am

Love it! This is another one of those just right articles posted at the just right time. Thanks!

6 Mark July 14, 2013 at 10:00 am

Powerful lesson! Thanks for sharing.

7 James July 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

Love it great post!

8 Dale Melchin July 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

A still small voice. Thank you, Brett.

9 Philippe Desjardins July 14, 2013 at 10:51 am

The most important idea of them all, being a man comes down to this article, no matter the situation.

Great job.

10 KS July 14, 2013 at 11:05 am

You know sometimes the articles here are really great and informative, but no one likes to be preached at. It all sounds great, but all this being Hero’s and showing grit and strength while the world is being run by the rich is like church where you hear a good talk and Amen’s but where folk are hypnotized where they seem they can’t leave the comfort of their pews. That’s why I got out of there. I think this article is ideas that put you to sleep. Just feel good-ism. If you have to be reminded to be a Man then well, then you have slid down into weakness Actions Actions like me writing this is my action to this article. It gets the gong and weak men will argue with me. Go figure. Weak article

11 Alex July 14, 2013 at 11:11 am

Great post. This is a manifest against hipsters.

12 Damain July 14, 2013 at 11:14 am

Well timed post. This is the perfect read while enjoying my Sunday morning cigar.

13 Colin Jackson July 14, 2013 at 11:47 am

Wow. Amazing. I have been trying, thanks to you, to build this sense of strength and urgency in myself, so that my son may observe it and take hard work up as a great thing. I am growing so defiant of this world that encourages laziness and excuses. There is such moral relativism and political correctness. Never before in history have we seen the will of the many be so imposed upon because a few have gotten their feelings hurt, so they demand special treatment or a new rule or law, and call that equality. I won’t have any part of it, that’s all ill say.

14 Blu July 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Great post, I’m going to track down a copy of the book. I’m curious now…

15 Vlad Pavel July 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Great post. This sums up Orthodoxy. This part, especially: “Strong in purpose and strong in action; strong within and strong without; strong against foes that are seen and strong against foes that are unseen; all the way up and all the way down, all the way around and all the way through; first, last and always—strong! It needs neither title nor crown to argue the imperial majesty of such manhood.”

16 Jon July 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm

“The men who have achieved conspicuous success in medicine, law, literature, art, trade, have all been tireless workers.”

I don’t know about that…according to Bertrand Russell “The morality of work is the morality of slaves.”

Those who preach the nobility of hard work are usually those who profit from the industriousness of others – not necessarily people who work tirelessly themselves. :)

17 Will July 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Great Article Brett. I read your articles everyday, and each and every time I reread an article it’s still as inspiring as the first time.

This post reminds me of:

The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted, it belongs to the brave.
- Ronald Reagan

18 Don July 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Mark & Kate, this is the superior article on manhood. Thank you. I’ll share it with others.

19 John July 14, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Excellent post, Brett. Keep up the good work. Love the industry chapter in your Manvotionals book.

Your site fills a great void in our generation. Many men today are but boys, because they did not receive this kind of meat growing up. We may have had Fathers who loved us and provided for us (and certainly many didn’t); but they may not have taught us the principles of manhood. And, if they didn’t teach us these things – God knows our culture sure didn’t.

So, we end up with a society full of “Man-orphans”, who need desperately to be taught the fundamentals of Manhood from the old school. This site is a great tool for getting that done.

Prov. 14:23 – “In all labor there is profit; but the talk of the lips tends only to poverty.”

20 Mohawk 135 July 14, 2013 at 4:47 pm

KS you really need to study this article. Self awareness is one of the great strengths a man can possess.

21 Josh Vernier July 14, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I agree with Andrew. It’s now uncommon to see true STRENGTH, where it used to be uncommon to see true weakness in men. This was one of the most inspiring (and manly) things I’ve read in a long time!

22 Darren Bush July 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Alex: you nailed it.

New favorite word: shitepoke.

DB

23 Fred July 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Excellent. What a way to define a real man. That book is a must read for every serious man.

24 Tim Robertson July 15, 2013 at 12:21 am

Man, this is rich stuff. Thanks, Brett and Kate. This is why I keep coming back to AoM.

25 Paul Martin July 15, 2013 at 12:43 am

This inspired me, glad I took the time to sit down and read it.

26 Freerk Lap July 15, 2013 at 3:35 am

Did you write this Brett? This is bordering on philosophical writing, very good :) Strength isn’t only physical (though it helps my confidence), it is also mental.

Been reading a lot, never commenting, but this time I had the urge to. Thanks and keep it up!

27 Freerk Lap July 15, 2013 at 3:36 am

Oh wait, is this entire thing an excerpt from a book :P? I just saw the reference on the top! None the less a very good piece haha.

28 gene courtemanche July 15, 2013 at 5:42 am

Some great words of wisdom., especially from those whom made a comment..

29 Andrew Robert July 15, 2013 at 7:27 am

Excellent post, Brett. Thank you.

30 Jacob July 15, 2013 at 8:35 am

If there was ever an article that defines the true “Art of Manliness” this is it.

31 Kammes July 15, 2013 at 9:30 am

I like this article a lot. Awesome last paragraph, too. I liked how the steps to become strong is left out – it seems more an individual thing to figure out. Instead of a how to be strong, this represented to me a call to summon strength for all those who could hear it and stop giving excuses, more or less.

My favorite form of strength is seen when people display what they don’t know or what they are not (maybe yet) able to do, which often times makes a person seem weak or ignorant. This is the base of strength for me, starting with an honest assessment of one’s abilities, regardless if they are on display for others to witness. Only then can a person start categorizing what they know and can do. The gap of knowledge, skill, or brute strength that needs to be closed to accomplish a given goal will be laid out plain and then comes the training routine…

32 TimMissouri July 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm

From page 36 of the same book:
“What is the secret of strength? It is the glory of life and the source of high success. How is it obtained? It is open to all. It is not a matter of temperament or training, but of faith. Follow the career of the great apostle. Was ever a man stronger? He says: “I can do all things,” but adds, “through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Paul’s humble trust was the secret of his marvelous power. It is faith in God that makes men strong. Moral strength is the characteristic of a positively religious life.”

33 LTS July 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Love the writing, the manvotionals, the website in general; I have never been more inspired to be more of a man.

Question, though: I realize many men have religion as a major part of their lives, but what of us men who believe strongly in secularism? Secular ethics is a challenging topic, but I believe traditional characteristics and values of strong and balanced men can be one powerful vehicle for tackling big questions of morality and ethics without religion. I’d like to see more secular manliness.

(Not disrespecting religion or those who follow it; I just feel that “faith in God” is too often a quick go-to answer for the questions of moral strength. Where do secular men find moral strength?)

34 Steve July 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

“Strength is all” … The adage I live by. Men who fail to to be strong physically, mentally and morally, are not worthy of the rewards of hard work.
Be strong!
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;
Shun not the struggle—face it; ’tis God’s gift.

Be strong!
Say not, “The days are evil. Who’s to blame?”
And fold the hands and acquiesce—oh shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God’s name.

Be strong!
It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong.
How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not—fight on! To-morrow comes the song. M D Babcock

35 Zach July 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm

At twenty years of age, many of my peers don’t know how to be real men, not because they don’t want to but because they don’t know how. Thanks Brett & Kate for spreading the knowledge & wisdom to help me & the others.

36 Steve C July 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Strength is an attritube you never regret having. If you do not have it there will be day when you wish did.

37 Lenin July 16, 2013 at 2:54 am

Thank you for the continuous good work. Interesting to read this post just after reading an article that showed in a test that Narcissists win better atleast in the short term because their confidence in themselves rubs off on others.

38 John McKeel July 16, 2013 at 8:57 am

I often link to AoM articles to share them with my friends. Most of us are friends from the Army, or college. I won’t be sharing this one. Other readers, like LTS, have expressed similar views.

I won’t harp on it, but the idea of an exterior locus of control seems at odds with strength and manliness. When a man says, I know not to rape, steal and murder because god told me. Is he stronger or weaker than the man who says these things are wrong without dogmatic pendantry to influence his actions by the promise of salvation or damnation. I know the majority of this post is an excerpt, but it still spoke to you as the authors.

The anecdote of the young man being brought low through guilt by association may yet be true in small towns, but in suburbs and urban areas–where AoM has the most to contribute, I think–ostrification like that is limited to small social groups within the whole.

I agree that many, many men did not grow up in environments where manly virtues were either extolled or reasonably codified. By my generation (“X”), those ideas were left behind with grandparents. Still, ignorance is anathema to manliness. To rely on a moral or ethical compass that you have not considered and constructed is to follow a herd. To equate faith with anything more than a personal matter is a slippery slope to chauvinism and bigotry. To encourage conformity out of fear, rather than first setting your own standards and then “grouping,” is more of the same. I thoroughly enjoy most AoM articles, and I hope this one is simply an outlier rather than a change of rhetoric.

39 Lawrence July 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

This was written more eloquently by R.W. Emerson sixty years before this was published. You can read it here: http://www.emersoncentral.com/selfreliance.htm. Check out Emerson’s. I think it’s a bit more inspiring and eloquent.

40 Paul July 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm

“It is a waste of time to dread the disagreeable. It must be faced promptly and duty manfully met.”

Manvotionals like these temper my man-spirit. The words heat like a forge and the sentiments ring true like hammer and anvil.

41 Matt M. July 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm

EXCELLENT post!!!

42 Dang Lin-Wang July 18, 2013 at 12:13 am

Everyone knows that the soft will overcome the hard. When the mighty oak is uprooted in the hurricane, the ever yielding willow, the pine, the grass will still be flowing in the wind. Water can pound and erode a mountain to rubble or simply dismiss it and pass with ease. True strength comes from being gentle. Gentle-man.

43 Claude July 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

Brett I fear you’ve peaked with this article. If this were the only post on this webpage, it would be complete. Much truth.

44 DS Mat. July 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Hands down one of the best articles I have ever read!!! Every word rings true and I was motivated, re-invigorated and refocused from such timely simple wisdom. I think we all need a constant dose of what it means to be a man and a reminder of the foundation of all things manly and that is strength. No one respects a weakling or effeminate man.

45 Denilson Cordeiro July 23, 2013 at 5:25 am

Congratulations! This post inspired me so much!

46 FeatherBlade July 24, 2013 at 3:52 pm

John McKeel wrote: “When a man says, I know not to rape, steal and murder because god told me. Is he stronger or weaker than the man who says these things are wrong without dogmatic pendantry to influence his actions by the promise of salvation or damnation. ”

The question for that man then becomes “Why are these things wrong? On what basis do you say these things are wrong?”

A strong building without a foundation will not only fall, but crush others beneath it as it does.

47 Mark July 28, 2013 at 8:35 am

Great article. Had my 17 year old son read this also. Keep up the good work!

48 Jerrod August 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm

This article definitely spoke to me. It is a blatant reminder that men simply are not men anymore. The last generations of “real men” are dying off and the future isn’t looking that great. But most of all, I can see the deterioration of moral, Godly men. Men use to stand for something and didn’t care how they were perceived if it meant staying true to THE absolute truth. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Silence makes cowards out of the best of men.” I believe this is why men are not manly or role models for strength anymore, because they have no moral backbone. I have learned in life that when you are weak morally, you are just flat out weak. Men need to recognize who God is again and draw their God-given, God-appointed strength from Him. If you read the Bible, it is explicit on how we were made and how both genders were designed to function. That line has been detrimentally blurred. Until things start looking more like what this article expressed, that line will eventually disappear forever.

49 buzaga August 5, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I’m an atheist, libertarian, free thinker, I read this blog and I loved the article.

I don’t think secular ethics are a challenging topic at all, ethics are meant to be universal and I’ve always had it with me. Sad that apparently this can’t be a topic in the comment threads because it seems AoM is letting itself be polarized by the flock.

Virtuosity, strength, beauty, grace, precedes man-created concepts, they’re in nature.

I’d suggest AoM, if it cares, to maybe add a little note somewhere, or at the bottom of articles that may incite religious non-sense, a policy to maybe disencourage this sort of polarizing, or this could become Youtube instead of thoughtfulness space for men of different backgrounds to hang out.

(if anyone thinks my tone is disrespectful, see Jerrod’s and FearBlade’s)

50 Adam August 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm

@buzaga

These forums are meant to discuss the topics and articles that are posted by Brett and Kate (and other contributors too, but always through them). Maybe even debated, if done so within the confines they have in place for forum posting.

Based on the majority of the posters and their comments on these forums, *most* of them share similar (if not the same) belief systems that Brett and Kate appear to have. The “flock” is drawn to this site for that very reason (among others to be sure). If the sidebars that ensue as a result of an article offend you, leave. If the articles themselves offend you, leave. But shame on you for wanting the owners of this site to impose some sort forum restriction preventing people from talking about something that might offend a paltry few.

This site will “become Youtube” when it starts catering to the lowest common denominator.

51 Alix Cave August 16, 2013 at 8:42 am

Thank you for sharing, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and I think will be an excellent conversation starter on Manhood. This reminds me of reading Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, which is a fantastic book.

52 Tyler August 24, 2013 at 10:10 am

Where can I find a database of early 20th century work/construction pictures like the one attached to this article?

53 Jamie September 4, 2013 at 1:45 am

@John McKeel First let me say that I am sorry for whatever church or interaction with Christianity you had that would incite this statement from you: “To equate faith with anything more than a personal matter is a slippery slope to chauvinism and bigotry. To encourage conformity out of fear, rather than first setting your own standards and then “grouping”…” But I won’t necessarily blame you – a lot of churches get it wrong too. “Faith” in the sense of “worldview” is not strictly a personal matter. Atheists have faith, their faith is that there is no God. (And they’re usually pretty up front and willing to publicly declare their dogmas…) The problem comes when people are labeled as bigots or whatever for expressing their worldview and/or the reasoning behind it, whether it be a “religious” faith or not.

As you might guess, I have a worldview that there is a God, and I have my reasons for thinking I am justified in believing so. The God I believe in – the God the Bible speaks of – does not coerce morality by threats and punishments for non-conformity, but rather produces in men a willing conformity to His design for life by doing for us what a “real man” would and should do for those he loves: suffering and dying for them when necessary. That’s what Jesus, whom I believe to be God in human flesh, did to destroy this disease called ‘sin’ that afflicts us and our world. Such is my faith, my worldview based on the evidence that has been made known to me.

Yes, I believe God wants all people to be good and do good, but only because that is what makes life good – living for a higher purpose than one’s own gratification (at the expense of others). Hell is reserved for those who reject His free gift of forgiveness and LIFE, including those who self-righteously think that they don’t need forgiveness, that they can earn brownie points with Him by doing good, rather than simply doing good because their hearts have been changed by a profound awareness of His goodness and love.

That is the worldview espoused by the Bible. You may agree with it or not, but it is a worldview just as much as secularism, materialism, atheism, agnosticism, etc. are. If the latter can be publicly expressed, why not the former?

@buzaga I would venture, if I may be so bold, to say that a truly free thinker is one who is open to honestly engage in discussion of opinions, even if they are ones a person doesn’t agree with or like. Censoring or restricting expression so that certain worldviews/opinions become marginalized is the opposite of truly free discourse and cognition. Part of manliness as I understand it is to express yourself honestly and openly while being respectful of other people’s right to do the same, even if you disagree with them.

Despite my Christian worldview, I’d be happy to debate the pros and cons of secular ethics with anyone anytime; I actually find it quite riveting. Like, what principles are to be used in determining right and wrong? Do the ends always justify the means? things like that (Full disclosure: I think in terms of ‘horizontal’, inter-human and -environment ethics, there’s not much difference between secular and religious ethics, for I believe that there are natural laws of morality much as there are natural laws of physics.)

54 Mark September 10, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Great article…thanks.

55 Lee Coates October 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm

A fine piece!

56 Kevin November 12, 2013 at 8:49 am

In the wake of the killer typhoon that has hit the Philippines, I can’t help but turn to this piece whenever I feel weakness. Thank you, Brett, and thank you, Kate.

57 Frank November 21, 2013 at 1:41 am

I always reread this article when I’m feeling low or it seems life is throwing me around. It is both comforting and a little embarrassing to realize the only person who runs my life is me and to the extent life isn’t going well, perhaps my own actions (or inaction) bear more careful scrutiny.

58 Hasnain Shaws January 27, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Honestly this article is worth more than any jewel…….

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