MAKE CLEAN YOUR HOUSE
May 4, 1917.
you know that the human race is being weighed in the balances? Work and pray
that it may not be found wanting.
We who dwell in the clear light of that world which is to you
the Other World, can see the handwriting on the wall.
The world has been too dishonest. In an honest world, could this
war have been? In the world that is to come, nation will not distrust
nation, nor man distrust man. But now distrust is a necessary part of the
human equipment. You may trust—but not too far. You may love your
neighbor—but not too much. You may do to your brother as you would have him
do to you—but not all the time.
America was builded on a foundation of
ideals; but there is too much of the mud of personal seeking mixed with the
good clay of your bricks.
You washed away with your blood one plague-spot, that of
slavery; but there is another plague-spot you have got to wash away. Will
you do it with the free water of good will, or will you do it again with
your blood? I wait to see.
Do not say that the world’s troubles are over, because America
has come into the war. The world’s troubles are not over. When the war is
over—the greater war—make clean your house, O America!
There is no other civilized country where the premiums upon
dishonesty are so high.
Can you buy a pound of butter and be
certain that you get sixteen full ounces? Can you buy a pound of meat and be
sure that the scales are true?
A new race is being born. Begin with those children, and teach
them honesty before you teach them geography—honesty with the parents,
honesty with each other, honesty with themselves. “As the twig is bent the
When I was a little boy I was taught that George Washington
could not tell a lie. I had an ideal of George Washington. I wanted to
emulate him. And so when I was a man I sought truth. I looked for it on the
surface of the ground, and also in deep wells. Once I spent years in the
wilderness trying to find truth in myself. I remained in the wilderness
until I found it. Had I not found it, I should have left my bones there.
You need a new set of copy-book maxims. If
the boy who writes “Honesty is the best policy” at school in the morning,
sees in the afternoon his father trying to trade a balky horse for a good
roadster, he wonders if his teacher is fooling him. The disillusionment of
children is tragic with menace for the coming State. I would rather see
reproach in the eyes of an Adept Teacher than in the eyes of a child. If I
fail my teacher I do not hurt him seriously, if I fail my child I hurt him
You must face the fact that the life of America is going to be
You have wondered why I have not written of late. I have been
busy, studying America. I have seen much that I can tell you, and much that
I cannot tell you—yet. For I want you to be quiet. You could not be quiet if
you knew as much as I know.
It has been said that necessity knows no
law. Forget it not, you war-profiteers who would corner the world’s
necessities. Remember that a cornered animal is dangerous, and a cornered
necessity has hoofs and horns.
There is a disease that has no name among the doctors—the
disease of colossal possessions. Its symptoms are a voracious appetite for
more possessions, and a phobia lest possessions be lost. It is worse than
neuralgia and indigestion combined to disturb the rest of the victim.
I long to see a hundred million and more people living in peace
and plenty in America.
Fanatics prattle about the confiscation of
great fortunes. I do not care so much what you do with your fortunes. But I
care much what you do with your land and your food, and I care more what you
do with your men and women and little children.
Do not get into a panic, I pray you. A panic is worse than a
quicksand to get into. Keep calm. The country is in no danger, if it does
not lose its head.