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Hurry, the Scourge of America

Books: The Majesty of Calmness

The first sermon in the world was preached at the Creation. It was a

Divine protest against Hurry. It was a Divine object lesson of perfect

law, perfect plan, perfect order, perfect method. Six days of work

carefully planned, scheduled and completed were followed by,--rest.

Whether we accept the story as literal or as figurative, as the account

of successive days or of ages comprising millions of years, matters

f we but learn the lesson.

Nature is very un-American. Nature never hurries. Every phase of her

working shows plan, calmness, reliability, and the absence of hurry.

Hurry always implies lack of definite method, confusion, impatience of

slow growth. The Tower of Babel, the world's first skyscraper, was a

failure because of hurry. The workers mistook their arrogant ambition

for inspiration. They had too many builders,--and no architect. They

thought to make up the lack of a head by a superfluity of hands. This

is a characteristic of Hurry. It seeks ever to make energy a substitute

for a clearly defined plan,--the result is ever as hopeless as trying

to transform a hobby-horse into a real steed by brisk riding.

Hurry is a counterfeit of haste. Haste has an ideal, a distinct aim to

be realized by the quickest, direct methods. Haste has a single compass

upon which it relies for direction and in harmony with which its course

is determined. Hurry says: "I must move faster. I will get three

compasses; I will have them different; I will be guided by all of them.

One of them will probably be right." Hurry never realizes that slow,

careful foundation work is the quickest in the end.

Hurry has ruined more Americans than has any other word in the

vocabulary of life. It is the scourge of America; and is both a cause

and a result of our high-pressure civilization. Hurry adroitly assumes

so many masquerades of disguise that its identity is not always


Hurry always pays the highest price for everything, and, usually the

goods are not delivered. In the race for wealth men often sacrifice

time, energy, health, home, happiness and honor,--everything that money

cannot buy, the very things that money can never bring back. Hurry is a

phantom of paradoxes. Business men, in their desire to provide for the

future happiness of their family, often sacrifice the present happiness

of wife and children on the altar of Hurry. They forget that their

place in the home should be something greater than being merely "the

man that pays the bills;" they expect consideration and thoughtfulness

that they are not giving.

We hear too much of a wife's duties to a husband and too little of the

other side of the question. "The wife," they tell us, "should meet her

husband with a smile and a kiss, should tactfully watch his moods and

be ever sweetness and sunshine." Why this continual swinging of the

censer of devotion to the man of business? Why should a woman have to

look up with timid glance at the face of her husband, to "size up his

mood"? Has not her day, too, been one of care, and responsibility, and

watchfulness? Has not mother-love been working over perplexing problems

and worries of home and of the training of the children that wifely

love may make her seek to solve in secret? Is man, then, the weaker sex

that he must be pampered and treated as tenderly as a boil trying to

keep from contact with the world?

In their hurry to attain some ambition, to gratify the dream of a life,

men often throw honor, truth, and generosity to the winds. Politicians

dare to stand by and see a city poisoned with foul water until they

"see where they come in" on a water-works appropriation. If it be

necessary to poison an army,--that, too, is but an incident in the

hurry for wealth.

This is the Age of the Hothouse. The element of natural growth is

pushed to one side and the hothouse and the force-pump are substituted.

Nature looks on tolerantly as she says: "So far you may go, but no

farther, my foolish children."

The educational system of to-day is a monumental institution dedicated

to Hurry. The children are forced to go through a series of studies

that sweep the circle of all human wisdom. They are given everything

that the ambitious ignorance of the age can force into their minds;

they are taught everything but the essentials,--how to use their senses

and how to think. Their minds become congested by a great mass of

undigested facts, and still the cruel, barbarous forcing goes on. You

watch it until it seems you cannot stand it a moment longer, and you

instinctively put out your hand and say: "Stop! This modern slaughter

of the Innocents must _not_ go on!" Education smiles suavely,

waves her hand complacently toward her thousands of knowledge-prisons

over the country, and says: "Who are you that dares speak a word

against our sacred, school system?" Education is in a hurry. Because

she fails in fifteen years to do what half the time should accomplish

by better methods, she should not be too boastful. Incompetence is not

always a reason for pride. And they hurry the children into a hundred

textbooks, then into ill-health, then into the colleges, then into a

diploma, then into life,--with a dazed mind, untrained and unfitted for

the real duties of living.

Hurry is the deathblow to calmness, to dignity, to poise. The old-time

courtesy went out when the new-time hurry came in. Hurry is the father

of dyspepsia. In the rush of our national life, the bolting of food has

become a national vice. The words "Quick Lunches" might properly be

placed on thousands of headstones in our cemeteries. Man forgets that

he is the only animal that dines; the others merely feed. Why does he

abrogate his right to dine and go to the end of the line with the mere

feeders? His self-respecting stomach rebels, and expresses its

indignation by indigestion. Then man has to go through life with a

little bottle of pepsin tablets in his vest-pocket. He is but another

victim to this craze for speed. Hurry means the breakdown of the

nerves. It is the royal road to nervous prostration.

Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the

newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower is its

growth, the surer is its lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full

power in a night; oaks require decades. A fad lives its life in a few

weeks; a philosophy lives through generations and centuries. If you are

sure you are right, do not let the voice of the world, or of friends,

or of family swerve you for a moment from your purpose. Accept slow

growth if it must be slow, and know the results _must_ come, as

you would accept the long, lonely hours of the night,--with absolute

assurance that the heavy-leaded moments _must_ bring the morning.

Let us as individuals banish the word "Hurry" from our lives. Let us

care for nothing so much that we would pay honor and self-respect as

the price of hurrying it. Let us cultivate calmness, restfulness,

poise, sweetness,--doing our best, bearing all things as bravely as we

can; living our life undisturbed by the prosperity of the wicked or the

malice of the envious. Let us not be impatient, chafing at delay,

fretting over failure, wearying over results, and weakening under

opposition. Let us ever turn our face toward the future with confidence

and trust, with the calmness of a life in harmony with itself, true to

its ideals, and slowly and constantly progressing toward their


Let us see that cowardly word Hurry in all its most degenerating

phases, let us see that it ever kills truth, loyalty, thoroughness; and

let us determine that, day by day, we will seek more and more to

substitute for it the calmness and repose of a true life, nobly lived.