Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.
Goethe wrote, “All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times.” This certainly applies to the sequence of forces listed by Edwards and, of course, to all of my comments which follow. But, first, a wise and interesting observation relating to each cause and its consequences as above set forth.
Thought:—Thought is the seed of action; but action is as much its second form as thought is its first. It rises in thought, to the end that it may be uttered and acted. Always in proportion to the depth of its sense does it knock importunately at the gates of the soul, to be spoken, to be done.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Purpose:—Thy purpose firm is equal to the deed.—Who does the best his circumstance allows, does well, acts nobly; angels could no more.
Action:—Action is preceded by thinking. Thinking is to deliberate beforehand over future action and to reflect afterwards upon past action. Thinking and action are inseparable.
—Ludwig von Mises
Habit:—We first make our habits, and then
our habits make us.
Ill habits gather, by unseen
degrees, as brooks make
rivers, rivers run to seas.
Character:—To be worth anything, character must be capable of standing firm upon its feet in the world of daily work, temptation, and trial; and able to bear the wear and tear of actual life. Cloistered virtues do not count for much.
Destiny:—He [man] becomes capable of perfecting himself, and he is even the only one capable of doing this. But in order to improve himself he must be free, since his contribution to evolution will depend on the use he makes of his liberty . . . and only a highly evolved man is willing to defend the liberty of others.
—Lecomte du Noüy
What a fascinating sequence, beginning with the thoughts and concluding with destiny: “. . . the inevitable or necessary succession of events.” The similarity of reasoning among these authors is as if they had been conferring with each other. Doubtless, the scholarly Ludwig von Mises, the latest of the six, had read the others, but where did Dryden, the earliest (1631-1700), get his thoughts? “These thoughts had been thought already a thousand times.” Yes, indeed, all but Lecomte du Noüy’s refinement of “destiny,” set forth in his remarkable book, Human Destiny.
Du Noüy’s thesis leads me to several conclusions. If one is to improve he must be free, and any contribution he might make to evolution—humanity’s High Purpose—depends on the use he makes of his liberty. It follows that liberty disappears or prevails according to the prevalence of bad or good thoughts, for these are the genesis of either hell on earth or High Purpose.
History is featured mostly by periods when individuals have not been free to write or speak what they think; but even a serf or slave is at liberty to think whatever he chooses, that is, to himself. Thus, whether we are to have a hell or heaven during our earthly existence, depends on whether our thoughts be hellish or heavenly. Therefore, some thinking on thoughts—evil and virtuous, dumb or intelligent—is in order. The following are thoughts that already have been thought a thousand times.
Many people believe they are thinking when, actually, they are only rearranging their prejudices. No High Purpose is served by these individuals.
Wrote Thomas Alva Edison: “Five per cent of the people think.” Were the percentage that large there would be no need to fret about the rest of his statement: “Ten per cent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five per cent would rather die than think.” I might add that potential intellectual alacrity—good thoughts—is deadened by the prevailing lethargy.
Those who think only about the disaster that lies ahead for themselves, and for our country, more than likely will experience personal calamity and dampen the prospects of a return to liberty for the rest of us.
All thoughts which any of us inwardly harbor show forth in outward acts. If they be ignoble, one’s actions will be a reflection thereof; if they be noble, liberty will have another worker in the vineyard.
Good thoughts are the mainspring of human progress. They bring the unseen—the unimaginable—into the realities that bless our lives.
We would do well to jot down all good thoughts the moment they occur. The thoughts we do not seek, that is, the ones that flash mysteriously into mind, are often the wisest. Such insights must be captured at once, for they rarely return to grace the soul.
Liberty is at once the cause and the consequence of good thoughts freely flowing between people in this and other countries; and between those of the past and we of the present.
Good thoughts have never been nor can they be popular. They are always at odds with the notions of the millions who do no thinking for themselves—followers of know-it-alls.
Look not to the thoughts of those who seek only fame, popular acclaim, fortune, votes, power to run our lives. They are the authors of the mess we’re in. Instead, look for good thoughts from those who seek righteousness. And they, as gold mines, are rare and hard to find. But how rewarding when discovered!
Those graced with thoughts of sufficient excellence do not argue. Instead, they cope with bad thoughts by stating the truth as they see it. This rare behavior arouses neither anger nor resentment. This leaves the bad thinkers with nothing to scratch against—leaves them in their own mire.
Extend sympathy, not censure, to those who are unhappy when alone with their own thoughts—and especially to those alone without thoughts of their own.
Learning without thought is a waste of time, but even worse is thought without learning.
Daniel Webster, when asked what was the greatest thought that ever entered his mind, replied, “My accountability to Almighty God.” Seek approval from God, not men.
The joyful life depends upon the quality of one’s thoughts. Liberty is advanced only by those who are happy; never by angry people.
Wrote one friend, “You caused me to think—I think!”
We can be likened to Human Radios. The thoughts we receive depend upon how weak or powerful our individual amplifiers and tuners.
War plagues a people infected with bad thoughts. Peace is the reward of good thoughts in ascendancy.
As we lock our doors against possible intruders, so should we lock our minds against bad thoughts. This leaves the mind free to welcome and develop the good thoughts upon which our destiny depends.
When liberty gives way to political tyranny inflation ensues and the cost of goods and services increases. However, kind words and good thoughts are valuable as ever. Indeed, they and they alone can bring about a rebirth of liberty.
No one, not even the most powerful of dictocrats, has ever been able to put a tax or tariff on good thoughts.
How mysteriously works the mind. Write out a thought and another will follow, on and on. The mind is a well of thoughts; it has no bottom. Forever draw on this well—and be well!
The miracle of the market had its inception 200 years ago. No person is capable of calculating even remotely, how far the standard of living has advanced. The problem now? Raising our standard of thinking higher than ever known before!
The art of thinking: the more one thinks the more is thinking a habit. It is not education if it does not create this habit.
Finally, good thoughts will prevail. How do I know? I have faith that they will. As Goethe wrote, “Miracle is the darling child of faith,” meaning that faith tops the list of good thoughts. Liberty—freedom of everyone to act creatively as he pleases—is assuredly our Destiny!