THE MEANS TO HAPPINESS
Our task in this chapter is one in which philosophy needs no theological help. If we accept the quite accurate definition of philosophy given by a modern philosopher, “the attempt by reasoning to know what is ultimately real”, we are quickly brought face to face with the absorbing problem that occupies us in this chapter.
Two very human pictures show how deeply this problem concerns the human heart. A mother, fondling her infant, ponders what the future holds in store for the baby. What will it become? Will it be happy? Behind this universal query lie the deeper questions: what is the meaning of this tiny life, what is it for, where is it going, how will it get to the,goal where alone it will find happiness? “To know the ultimately real!” At the death-bed of his father, or of that same mother who had wondered about his life, the same questions meet the son. What becomes of these loved ones? What was the meaning of their lives? Was that long courageous trek through the years only for this? Or is there a further goal? And even where these questions have sure answers, there are the further questions that keep loved ones always close by keeping them always dependent: did they have the right tools for the carving out of their lives, did they know and use the means that would bring them success, did they take the steps that would bring them home? Bethlehem and Calvary, the two pictures — birth and death — which bring men and women face to face with the necessity of knowing the ultimately real of human life.
In the preceding chapter, in determining the object in the possession of which happiness alone could be found, we saw part of this ultimate reality. We saw the goal, the final end, the supreme answer to the quest for happiness. Here we are looking at a no less important angle of that ultimate reality, that ultimate meaning of human life, in examining the means by which we can reach that goal.
The means by which happiness is attained are utterly simple yet distinctive
The answer is by no means merely a speculative one. If these means to happiness are open only to the very wealthy, or to the very poor, man’s life takes on the proportions of a practical joke, played on a cosmic scale with a ruthlessly cruel lack of humour. These things cannot be the exclusive possession of the very wise or the very ignorant; of the very wealthy or the very sick; of the man of power or the timid weakling. They cannot be the private property of any class, any group, any nation, without making a farce of the very peak of natural perfection that is found in the story of human activity.
They must be utterly universal and, despite their efficacy in bringing a man to his goal, must be of so uncomplicated a nature that a child can wield them with the sure touch which proclaims mastery. If human life has a meaning, if there is a final goal of human action, then that meaning, that goal, is proper to every human being. Not personality, not age, not talent, but the very fact of being human is the just claim to the possession of the means to happiness.
Simple — at the finger-tips of every human being.
In our last chapter we said that happiness means the possession of the object which brings happiness, the grasp of the good which is back of all desire; and that this possession is the fruit of our own action. More concretely, we showed that human life has a goal — the supreme universal good; the individual man is happy when by his action he possesses that universal good, when he is brought into immediate contact with that final end through the vision of God. The steps to that final goal are simply human actions. These are the means by which man can attain to happiness, and these alone. And it is precisely these means that all men, women, and children, from the dawn of reason, have at their finger-tips.
It would be interesting to examine the false goals of human endeavour from this angle; to wonder, in a kind of stage whisper, how huge a wave of despair would sweep the world if it were true that health, food, pleasure, riches, fame or power was the final goal of us all.
Distinctive — proper to man alone.
But we have finished with the goal for the time being. Let us look more closely at the means to human happiness. A characteristic of these means, as striking as their universality, is their distinctiveness. While they belong to every single man born into the world as a natural birthright, not another creature in the world can possibly possess them. They are the family heritage which can be claimed only on the grounds of human blood; the pontifical robes of the lord of creation which no impostor can possibly wear. Only a human being can produce a human action.
These means are human actions
A man can crash into a brick wall even more resoundingly than the blindest of insects, he can howl like a dog, be as vicious as a tiger, as stupid as a sheep. In fact, he can disguise or cast off the humanity of his actions to the extent of being more animal than the animal. But it does not work the other way around. For only a man is capable of that deliberate, that controlled action by which he can move himself to his goal. Everything beneath man is in the servant class, answering the beck and call of an outside power. Man alone is master of his life, of his action.
The distinctive core of human action is deliberate control
What is the secret of that distinctiveness? What is the human action’s inner core whose presence makes such a startling difference between the wielding of a fork and the rooting of a snout? We could call it by several names. Perhaps the simplest would be “control”; “deliberate will” would be another. Whatever its name, its presence or absence is the determining factor in the humanity of our actions. This control makes the difference between the fatal blow struck by the fury of blind rage and the paid assassin’s silent knife-thrust.
By this, man’s life, his activity and his destiny are things apart in the universe
At the roots of this deliberate control is man’s unique ability to choose. Precisely because he can look beyond his action, he can control it; because he knows the connection between the job to be done and the tools at hand, he can pick his tools. Because in his heart he carries the image of the supreme good, he can see the defects in anything less than the supreme good, he can choose this because of its good points, reject that because of its defects, or sit back in contempt and refuse to be bothered with anything which does not bear the mark of complete perfection. Whatever the course of his action, he has exercised that solely human faculty of self-control. The trip from birth to death is not along a track utterly determining the course man will follow; because of the voluntary character of his actions, man is sitting behind the wheel in complete control.
Take away that control and you take away the human character of man’s actions. By this control is man alone capable of triumph or failure. He is the only one in the universe with the paradoxical capacity for sin and sanctity, for mistakes and successes, for nobility and meanness, because he alone can answer for his actions.
Fundamental character of modern errors on the nature of human action
It is not an easy thing to carry that responsibility. Perhaps unconsciously, men sometimes try to escape its difficulties, forgetting its privileges — and forgetting that there is no escape. One way of attempted escape is to take too much to drink; another way is to philosophize man out of existence. If man’s actions are only the overflow of deep, unconscious surgings (Freud) or the swelling tide of an irresistible and blind life-force (Bergson), man hasn’t any worries, nor has he any hopes. If his activities have no more significance than the arching of a cat’s back at the sight of a dog, an animal response to external stimuli (Watson), he must make up his mind to lead a dog’s life and like it. If his intelligence is merely the last phenomenon in a long and inexplicable process that cannot reach a goal without destroying itself, like the latest bubble on a glass of champagne (S. Alexander), it is silly to get excited about control, or goal, or happiness, or humanity. It may be comforting to make man an animal, or a machine, or a process; but it is not the comfort of truth, of facing the fact that man continues to be man. These modern errors are much more sweeping than has been realized by many people; and the devastation they bring is the result of their attack on the distinctive core of all human action — deliberate control.
This deliberate control is the result of self-movement with a knowledge of the relation of means to end. In other words, it requires over and above the intrinsic principle of movement common to all living things, a knowledge of the goal and the steps to that goal. Over and above the intrinsic principle of movement and the particularized, determined knowledge of sensible ends common to all animals, it demands a universal knowledge of the end and of the relations between that end and the means to it. In a words it is self-movement, movement from within, which knows where it is going and why it is going this particular way.
Enemies of deliberate control: From within a man himself
We can picture this movement from within, this deliberate control, as a long journey from the inner recesses of man’s soul. Looking at it in this light, we see again that it is not easy to be human, to hold tightly to our humanity. Within the kingdom of ourselves, the jealousy of the universe is concentrated, steadily directed at our unique privilege of acting humanly. We are masters of ourselves, but our subjects are always ripe for rebellion. As that journey from the inner recesses of our soul gets under way, it meets a formidable enemy in the animal life of the senses.
From the senses: In contact with evil
Whether that animal life is fleeing from impending evil or rushing headlong after an alluring good, it always carries with it serious dangers to the control of our actions. Indeed, as we shall see in more detail later on, it sometimes goes to the point of completely destroying that control, as in the terror-stricken mob that fights hysterically to escape from a burning theatre. When that happens, there is no longer any question of human action or human responsibility, of human progress towards a goal; the humanity of our actions is destroyed in the exact proportion to the interference with that control.
In contact with good
Where the attack is not so much on control as on the willingness of our actions, fear of evil and desire of good operate differently. A pilot, through fear of being forced down by ice on the wings of his plane, will lighten the plane by throwing overboard precious gasoline the loss of which will certainly shorten his journey and perhaps bring disaster to it. He does not want to lose the gasoline, yet in the circumstances there is positive eagerness to be rid of it. Fear makes him do something that in itself is displeasing, something that he does unwillingly; yet, in these conditions, the loss has his complete consent. The pilot is much like a man with a horror of bitter medicine, who is quite willing to take the medicine, not because he has changed his views on the matter, but because the bitter dose is necessary for his health. The allure of good, rather than cutting down our willingness, directly and immediately increases it. our passion for the theatre may seriously threaten the control of our actions; but at no time do we trudge up to the box-office on unwilling feet, like a small boy returning to school after vacation, with an air of woeful martyrdom.
From the intellect
Even further back in the course of this movement from within ourselves, almost before the journey has started, a no less deadly enemy is met in the intellect itself, an enemy that goes by the name of ignorance. There is something particularly repellent about the word “ignorance” that makes us instantly resent its application to ourselves. To be called a rascal may mean that our morality is seriously being called into question; but if the epithet is “ignorant rascal,” it is not only our morality, but our very humanity that is under attack. For the implication is that we are lacking in something we should have, something that directly affects that control of action which is distinctive of humanity. “Ignorant” is just a little worse than “half-wit” or “stupid”, for these things cannot be helped; but ignorance implies that somewhere along the road we have failed to pick up what we should and could have had; something necessary for the manliness, the humanity of our actions.
This repulsiveness of ignorance is easily understood from its concrete results. When it precedes a particular action, it makes us do things that otherwise we would never think of doing: silly things like spreading shaving cream on a toothbrush, and eventually on our teeth; petty things like short-changing a newsboy in a strange city; tragic things like killing a man when we thought we were shooting a deer.
A more despicable type of ignorance is one which we are quite willing to tolerate, indeed even to protect, because it allows us to sidle out of things. It is a thoroughly hypocritical ignorance which gives an unhealthy odour to our bad deeds, as well as to the good, and which, though quite successful in destroying goodness, leaves evil intact. It is this sort of thing that keeps a man from looking at a calendar, lest he discover this is the day on which he must pay a bill, or that this is the day on which he cannot eat meat. It is the thing that closes our eyes and ears to the needs of others, lest the obligation of charity force us to open our purses.
From the outside
A third type of ignorance affects our actions very little, for even if we were not ignorant, we would have done the same thing. The results would be the same; but the action by which those results are produced would be quite different. In other words, like all ignorance, this kind robs our activities of the human mark which alone gives us a title to pride or to remorse. So a gangster on a vacation, intending to shoot a bear, actually kills a rival whom he has been seeking vindictively for months. And not even a gangster can be proud of that sort of achievement.
The environs of human action in general
Going back to our original figure of a long journey from the inner principle of movement, we can all appreciate the difficulty of being human when we get out of the territory within our control. There was difficulty from the senses and the intellect within our own kingdom; in the foreign territory of the external world, there is the enemy of violence. When we step into this foreign territory, the central core of distinctive human action, can and does, rely confidently on the magic cloak of its spirituality and wanders inviolate up and down the roads of the world.
Some of its messengers or its lesser lieutenants may be and often are captured, dragged into enemy ranks, shot down; but the commanding generals can never be taken. True enough, they are behind the front lines and far enough behind to be safe — as far, in fact, as the distance between the world of matter and the world of spirit. A strong man might succeed in forcing water down your throat, but he cannot make you want to drink; your finger might, by force, be pressed against a button that will electrocute a man, but you cannot be forced to want to kill. Violence may make you smell, or hear, or see, or feel; you may be forced to run, or to walk, or to dance. But nothing in the whole universe can make you will. That inner principle of distinctive human action is inviolable by any external power because there is no leverage for violence against spirit, such as the soul of man and its faculties are.
All this has had to do with the central core of our human acts. To be satisfied with this as the whole story of human acts, would be like conceding that a home consists only of four walls and a roof, all other appurtenances — light, heat, water, furniture, and so on — are totally unimportant. Or, more accurately, it is like feeling that we know all about a house from a photograph which completely isolates the house from its surroundings and gives a view of only one part of the exterior. As a matter of fact, the neighbourhood in which the house is situated is important: the house might be sunk in the midst of freight yards, enthroned in a private park, sagging in the squalor of a tenement district, or dwarfed by the brick walls of skyscrapers.
Their name and number: who, what, where, by whose help, when, why, how
The same is true of a human act. We cannot really know it until we know its surroundings. The surroundings, the neighbourhood of a human act, are grouped together in the theological term, “circumstances”. As a matter of fact, when we have run through these circumstances and discovered who did the thing, where it was done and why, when it seas accomplished and how, and who helped, we have covered all there is to know about the event. We not only have a view of the neighbourhood, we have the whole family history and a fairly accurate prediction of the future.
A full grasp of the meaning of any act is impossible without a consideration of these angles. It may be a matter of no moment that a man trips over a dog and goes sprawling; certainly the identity of the dog hardly seems important. But if it happened to be the president of France who tripped over the favourite hound of Adolf Hitler, it would certainly make headlines, and perhaps, an international “situation”.
Their importance: For the complete story of a human action
— comparison of journalist’s and theologian’s quest for truth in human action
This truth has been recognized since the world began. In our modern times, a good example of it is the pursuit of news by a reporter. Newspapers recognize that news values may be hidden by the incompleteness of a story; hence the fundamental “w’s” of every reporter (who, what, why, when, where) are no more than a demand for the complete story of any human activity. A theologian, indeed, is not looking for news value; but he is looking for the truth, and truth can be had only when all the returns are in.
For judgment, public or private, of a man’s act
In the example we have already given, of a man killing another while hunting deer, it changes the story completely when we know how and why the man was killed. To the confessor hearing a penitent confess that he broke open a door, it makes a great difference where that door was, whether on a tabernacle, a prison, or a burning theatre. Whether a penitent, taking a little drink, swallowed whisky or poison; whether it was Sunday or Monday that he got lazy and stayed in bed all day, these are not mere details, but elements necessary if we are to get to the truth of our own or any one else’s actions.
For the individual’s choice of action
There are times when a review of those circumstances might hold us back from action entirely, or certainly change our course of action. An honest man running for public office might well have his doubts about continuing the campaign when he discovers that the bulk of his support comes from politically entrenched gangsters. Or a parent might well halt the upraised hand, realizing that the reason for the spanking now being administered to a child is the parent’s own indigestion. In fact, a person who cannot answer the question “why” relative to one of his actions, is a little bewildered and sneaks a look over his shoulder to seek if anyone noticed him acting so foolishly. If the same thing happens often, he begins to doubt his sanity. If it is the usual thing, there can be no doubt of insanity and the individual is promptly locked up.
This or that particular action may lack one or other of these circumstances; after all, the furnishings of a mansion have no place in a four-room flat. But there are three general conditions that are to be found and investigated in every act which lays claim to humanity: why was it done; how was it done; by whose help?
Particular conditions of every human action:
What is the excuse for human activity; why is any human act placed? Why does a man work or love or suffer? The answer to that question was the whole burden of our last chapter. The answer is, briefly, to attain the object of desire, to satisfy desire; or, more simply, to obtain a good, for desire never seeks evil. Human action is a search for a good, and, ultimately, a goal; for every thing desired is sought either for itself or as a step to something else. Principally, then, man acts because of the end or goal of his life; he acts that he may attain happiness. Everything else that is desired, every other object of his activity, is such only because it has something of the goal, something of the end about it.
By whose help — the motive forces of human action
The helpers of a human act are those who contribute in some way to that movement from within which is the essence of living movement, to that deliberate or controlled movement from within which is of the essence of human life. In the first volume of this work we saw that will, the human appetite, was the principle, the starting point of all movement in man. Here, we are looking for the elements that might play some part in putting that motive principle to work, the spark that might start the engine of human activity roaring.
Within a man himself, the work of the intellect is primarily not to move but to know. By knowing it can contribute to the movement of the will; and it is precisely in that way, in recognizing good and presenting it to the will, that the intellect enters into the movement of the will. The intellect presents a target, stretches a tape across the track; the will must be at the root of the actual movement.
Part of the senses
The intellect gives the will a look at the desirable object as it is in itself. The senses play a much more indirect, but very often a much more important and preponderant part. Waiters on Pullman cars very rarely make the mistake of tossing a cheery greeting in a man’s face in the morning until they have served him coffee; not that the cheery greeting has changed in its desirability meantime, but the man has changed considerably. Watching a football game, an otherwise staid and responsible citizen considers it quite the proper thing to throw away his hat, shout himself hoarse, and pound a perfect stranger on the back; an hour later, in the privacy of his home, such actions are far from appealing. The dispositions of the senses can and do colour an object, hide or enhance its appeal, and so swerve the will away from or coax it into actions that would not be performed under other conditions. It is an indirect, a coaxing, movement that never has the efficacy of force but always has the subtlety of intrigue. Passion, prejudice, headache or plain grouch are by no means the prime movers in a man’s life; but the part they play is not inconsiderable.
Part of the will itself
The influence of outside forces is of the same indirect type. Little Mary’s smile may be most winning, but it cannot force the permission for just one more piece of cake. The heavenly bodies play their parts, as witness the power of moonlight, or zero weather, on the activities sponsored by our wills. But, in spite of the ludicrous faith that reads all future events in the stars while starving to death for lack of clients, no material thing, no external force, can reach into the sanctuary of a man’s soul. That is another world; the world of spirit that is impervious to the clumsy pushings and shovings of the world of matter. The wise man dominates the stars, as he dominates all things else in the umverse.
There is only one external influence of which the will is not independent; there is only one barrier between the will and complete independence. And this barrier is really a bulwark, for its absence would be utterly calamitous for the will, as it would be for any other creature; it would mean instant annihilation, for it would mean severance from the first independent source of all that the human will is or can hope to be.
Where you find complete independence, there you find God, the first mover, the source from which flows every perfection. On this first mover the will is utterly dependent. God can and does move the will of man. Indeed, the thing is self-evident, at least as regards the first movement of the will; for the particular will of any man started its activity some time and that is explicable only by going back to the first mover. Activity is not explained by inactivity, any more than apple pies are explained by apples.
It is not necessary to make a god out of the human will to safeguard that will’s autonomy. The fact that there is only one first cause does not destroy but rather establishes the efficacy of nature’s working; the fact that there is only one being who is life, does not destroy but rather explains the vital nature of every living thing; and the fact that there is only one first mover, does not weaken but rather establishes and fortifies the power of the human will to move itself.
Conditions of every human action: How
And this brings us to the last general condition of every human act. How does the will move? It may be quite sufficient to know how to drive a car in order to make a transcontinental tour; but to know something of its inner workings, what makes it go, and, which is of more importance, what might have made it stop, is a decided comfort when something has to be done about a sudden breakdown miles from a repair shop. It might be enough for a man to know how to steer his actions to their goal in order to make a success tof living human life; but to venture into the rough country of our materialistic age, to meet obstacles that challenge the power of those human actions constantly, it is more than a comfort, it is a necessary precaution to the successful completion of the journey to know just how the machinery of human action operates.
The man who seriously maintains that absolutely every movement of the human will is under the control of a man, is as absurdly optimistic as the man who would cure a broken leg by deep breathing or mental concentration. His account of things reads like the blurb on the jacket of a best-seller; trying to push man up into a class with the deity, he succeeds only in turning out an impossible freak which has no place in nature, in heaven or in hell. For the facts are plain; man is a part of the natural universe, not a discordant note in the harmony of the spheres. The laws that govern nature also govern man and move him to the end of all nature. It is nature that is the source of movement in other living things; and man must go back to the same source. It is not merely a question of parallelism, rather it is a matter of concrete facts. The foundation of all knowledge is a set of principles which we naturally know, not something that we figure out for ourselves. So the foundation of all movement in man, the source of all desire, is a movement that is natural to us, about which we can do nothing but submit; all other desires spring from a natural desire that makes its appearance as soon as we are capable of any desire. Towards these objects of natural desire, the will moves naturally not freely; in the concrete, the will cannot but desire good, quite naturally it cannot act for evil. It naturally desires a last end, naturally desires all those things that belong to a man by his very nature, such as life, knowledge of truth, and so on.
Necessarily: With regard to a proper object
As the will sits enthroned, watching the parade of particular desirable things marched before it by the intellect, it is indeed a monarch of all it surveys. No one of these things can snatch the will from its throne; the allure, the beauty of no one is so great that some flaws cannot be found. The intellect automatically and irresistibly must know truth that is clearly presented to it; the eye must naturally, necessarily see colour presented to it. For truth in all its forms is the object of the intellect, and colour is the object of the eye. But no good, short of the universal supremely perfect good, can rush the human will into necessary action, for only that supreme, final good is the adequate object of the faculty of human desire.
Because of sense appetite
A man may have a seemingly irresistible personality; but there will always be someone who can find something displeasing about him, for, as a matter of fact, he is not irresistible. Nothing is irresistible but God. The appeals presented by our senses, by the passions, by the whole inferior nature of man, inflict necessity upon the will only in proportion as they interrupt the sway of reason’s command over a man’s life. The alcoholic is helpless in the presence of drink because he is not human in the presence of drink; but as long as our actions remain human, so long is lower nature our subject and not our master.
Because of divine influence
The miraculous works of Christ in Palestine consistently produced a double effect in the bystanders: an elemental fear, such as we feel in an earthquake, a fire out of control, or when standing close to a giant locomotive; and an admiration that was nothing less than astonishment, bewilderment. These are always the results of contact with the divine. Divinity touching the limits of the created world always puts a paradox before our minds, perhaps because our experience, however rich it may be, has mostly dealt with human, understandable things. It is no surprise to find the divine in contact with the human will offering us another of those divine paradoxes — the admirable, wholly astonishing, and utterly bewildering fact of the human will being moved by God and yet moving freely.
We can get some little foothold on this marvel but we can never take it apart, as we might an internal combustion engine. We have noticed the wind bending a small willow tree almost double, swaying the Empire State Building only a matter of inches, and picking up dust and carrying it across thousands of miles. Yet all this is without any change in the wind; the difference in the effect is rooted in the different natures of the things moved. In the same way, the divine movement of the universe to its end will move the tree, the cat and the man each according to its nature, each differently, none violently; always respecting, nay, perfecting, the intrinsic principles of each nature. And it is the nature of man, precisely because he can have universal knowledge, to be free in his choice of particular goods.
Let us not try to soften this truth any more than we would try to hide the artistic beauty of sculptured marble by draping it in clothes; rather let us bring the truth out in a strong light where every detail of its beauty can be appreciated. The influence of God on the human will not only respects human liberty, it causes it; without that divine movement, it would be impossible for humanity to enjoy the freedom, the control, that sets it apart from the rest of the universe. We went into this very exhaustively in the first volume. But it can be put thus briefly: the mode of the human action, its freedom, is as real as the action itself; and, like all reality, it must be traced back to the first cause of all reality. In other words, the causality of God, unlike our own, is not limited to the surface of things, to mere externals, but plumbs down to the intrinsic principles of nature itself. It extends, not merely to the act produced, but to the way in which this act comes forth into the world, whether that way be one of necessity or of freedom The one can no more exist without divine movement than can the other.
- The means to happiness are perfectly proportioned to the object whose possession gives happiness:
- They are universally possessed by men.
- Effective from the beginnings of reason
“To know the ultimately real” of human life! an aim that tugs at the heart of everyone and makes every man a philosopher. This is a task that, if accomplished, presents us with a picture that explains much of the beauty we have half-grasped, expresses the thoughts that have haunted our minds, explains the power and significance we have vaguely glimpsed in human affairs. This present chapter presents the other half of the picture; and, showing something of the ultimate reality, it of course matches perfectly the fragment of the original masterpiece we have uncovered in the preceding chapter. That was the goal, these are the steps to it; that was the end, these the means; that was the destination, this is the course along which we run to it.
- Rigidly personal
- Completely sovereign
The goal, we have said, was open to all men without exception on the grounds of age, ability, power, wealth, health or any other consideration but that of humanity. It could be shared by all men and lose nothing of its splendour, its perfection, its satisfying beauty. It could satisfy the least and the greatest of all desires entertained by the human heart; and yet it was no mass happiness, but an individual affair, strictly personal, reigning supreme in the field of the desirable.
The means to the end seen in this chapter but bring out the further simple yet overpowering beauty of the original fragment of the picture. Human actions are the universal and exclusive title to eminence of every human being. They are at the finger-tips of every man, woman and child from the dawn of reason; and they are of a simplicity that makes their manipulation by a, child accurate, masterful, effective. For how else could heaven be filled with those who were so heartily welcomed. by Christ on earth?
Stirred into being by desire, these actions pursue the quarry relentlessly, tirelessly, as long as life lasts in man the hunter. No obstacle can hinder the pursuit, no violence lessen its effectiveness, no shortness or length of time be too little or too great for ultimate success. And each hunter of happiness goes about his business in his own way. Not only is each man an individual different from all others who have ever lived or ever will live; the means he uses (his actions) are his very own, mirroring his personality; yes, every single act will bear the stamp of the time, place and dispositions of the agent and be set apart as a thing distinct in the history of the universe.
They are in complete harmony with the unity and effectiveness of nature and natural law
Yet these means to happiness are a part and parcel of the universal progress of nature to the end which was also the beginning. Like every other living thing, the perfection of man is the full development of his nature, the perfection of his highest act, worked out from the principles inherent in that nature. Like every other created nature, the means to the individual goal are furnished to each member of the species from the very beginning. Man is not a freak dropped by mistake in a universe that is foreign to him; he is not the whole of it, not the ultimate end of it all, nor is he an accident, an unimportant, unforeseen phase of it all. He is at the peak of the material, at the lowest rung of the spiritual, moving, as is everything else, to God — but in man’s own way of knowing and loving the God he seeks.
They alone are worthy of the dignity and intelligence of man
In a way Chesterton was right when he considered it an insult to suspect that a man was incapable of a bad action. For it is his unique privilege to be able to fail, as well as to be able to succeed. To a mind that can stretch out to universal truths, to a will that can thirst after the universal good, it is no less than an insult to suspect that the course of life will be marked out step by step with no choice, no variation possible. Man would rightly be as restless under a regime that laid out every step of his life in the instincts of his nature, as an intelligent adult is restless listening to someone read out the titles of a movie. He can look ahead of life, can stand to one side and be a spectator of the whole glamorous parade, even of himself; do not expect him to go through the motions like a robot incapable of thinking for himself. In fact, do not expect him to go through life in any way except as a man. Do not expect him to use means to win his way through, other than means that are worthy of his manhood, worthy of his intelligence. Insistence on anything more, on anything less, is not paying just tribute to God, to man, to nature, to positive facts. But rather it is plunging into the world of make-believe because the world of reality offers no escape from the humanity of man.