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Last Letters From The Living Dead Man
(Mr. "X" is David Patterson Hatch 1846-1912, a former judge)

 
INTRODUCTION PART 1
INTRODUCTION PART 2

LETTER

 I.

THE GENIUS OF AMERICA
II. FEAR NOT
III. THE PROMISE OF SPRING
IV. THE DIET OF GOLD
V. CONTINGENT FEES
VI. THE THREE APPEALS
VII. THE BUILDERS
VIII. THE WORLD OF MIND
IX. AMERICA'S GOOD FRIDAY
X. THE CRUCIBLE
XI. MAKE CLEAN YOUR HOUSE
XII. LEVEL HEADS
XIII. TREES AND BRICK WALLS
XIV. INVISIBLE ARMIES
XV. THE WEAKEST LINK
XVI. A COUNCIL IN THE FOREST
XVII. THE IDEAL OF SUCCESS
XVIII. ORDER AND PROGRESS
XIX. THE FEDERATION OF NATIONS
XX. THE NEW IDEAL
XXI. A RAMBLING TALK
XXII. THE LEVER OF WORLD UNITY
XXIII. THE STARS OF MAN'S DESTINY
XXIV. MELANCHOLY
XXV. COMPENSATORY PLAY
XXVI. THE AQUARIAN AGE
XXVII. THE WATCHERS
XXVIII. THE RITUAL OF FELLOWSHIP
XXIX. RECRUITING AGENTS
XXX. THE VIRUS OF DISRUPTION
XXXI. THE ALTAR FIRE
 

LETTER XVII

 

THE IDEAL OF SUCCESS

  June 23, 1917.

            Put fear out of your hearts. The future will give you no greater lessons than you can master. It is not well to know the future in complete detail. Had the world known during the last ten years all it would be obliged to suffer in this war, would it have made the progress it has made in art, science and commerce? No. Every thought would have been haunted.
            You may say that the weaker races (and the stronger ones) would have made better preparation. But a part of this lesson has been not to delay inevitable preparation, and to know in future that a nation which idealizes war and is mostly army, has not cultivated that ideal and that army solely for its own amusement.

            If you want to understand national life and individual life, you must look for their dominating ideals. An ideal is a tendency.
            What is the dominating ideal of America? Summed in a word, it is success, is it not? Now America is in a great war, and you may be sure that she will leave nothing undone that can make for success in that war, as she has left nothing undone that could make for success in business.
            Take your own case. What are your dominating ideals and tendencies? You would say, off-hand, work and study and intellectual companionship, would you not? Very well. As to work, do not fear a future in which good work is pretty sure of at least a living wage. Study? There will always be books to feed your hunger for reading. Companionship? There are too many lonely souls in the world for you ever to be lonely.

            What else? You lift your pencil and think. . . . That is about all, is it not?
Now let us return to America. America is not—has not been—a warlike nation, except when threatened by injustice, to herself or others. Will she lose this war? I think not.
But there will be complexities regarding the end of this war.
I want to refer to something I said in a recent letter, that we were organizing on this side of the airy frontier for work for the future of America.
I have spoken of the Genius of this land, a composite entity you may call it, if your imagination is not equal to the task of seeing that you—all of you—are cells in the body of the Genius of America.

Now the Genius of this land has glorious purposes, and she uses you—all of you—for her purposes, as you use the cells of your body, as you are using at this moment the aggregation of cells that form the hand with which you hold your pencil.
In registering yourselves at the call of your country, you are affirming your acceptance of the office of cells in the great body of her. Some of you she must sacrifice in the war for the welfare of the whole, as every day cells die and are born in the body of man, the microcosm.
Extend the idea to the whole human race, and the figure will be still more apt. The genius of the race is suffering now. The process will ultimate in a more perfect health.

You perhaps protest that many of those who are dying are the flower of the race, the young, the fitted to survive. But do you not remember that their souls survive? The essential part of them is not lost, but set free for a greater work. Have you considered that earth-life may be the dream, and the life after death the waking? Sages have considered it before you, and accepted the possibility.
Out here we are hopeful, and very busy. It is because I am so busy that I come to you only occasionally. Do not hurry me, for I do not hurry you.
We have problems to solve out here. As I have said, one of our problems is the great number of Indian souls, red men souls, who went out of life with resentment and revenge in their hearts for the elimination of their race by the white man in America.

Somehow we must placate them, and enlist them on your side. Otherwise they may be a dangerous element for the future. Some of them would like to see your civilization destroyed, as theirs was destroyed, and a few of them are strong enough to do real harm.
The best way to make an enemy harmless is to understand his peculiar qualities, to learn something from the frankness of his enmity, to turn away evil by letting it go off at a tangent. But the Indian souls are not famous for their frankness. Even with me they sometimes conceal their resentment—deep, fundamental—at the “theft,” as they feel it, of the land where they once roamed in freedom.
I advise America to cultivate the free life of the open. I have advised you in a former book that the old woodcraft should be resuscitated and taught to the children. There may come a time when the rudiments of this knowledge will be useful to many of you.

Great changes are coming in the world, a period of adjustment to new conditions. There is a restless element in all adjustment, and national restlessness is like that of puberty; it needs to be minimized by healthful outdoor play, or by work which masquerades as play.
The future will take from the present those elements that are most important for survival.
Do not fear that we shall return to the Dark Ages. Oh, no. We are going into a Light Age. It is only twilight now.

.

 

LETTER XVIII

 

LETTER XVI