One great need of the race today is courage. Not exactly the courage that is shown upon the field of battle; of that there seems to be plenty. Dewey and his men had it when they sailed into Manila Bay, regardless alike of the guns of the Spanish fort and fleet and of possible torpedoes, such as blew the Maine into fragments in Havana harbor. Nor can the Spaniards said to be lacking in valor, who fought a losing fight from ships utterly unable to withstand the fire of our better aimed cannon. We read, too, of the gallant charge of the British troops, and the desperate defense of their position by the Beers, proving that in obedience to discipline, or in defense of what they consider their rights, men everywhere are ready and prompt to risk their lives in combat with their fellows. But there is another kind of courage in which most of us are badly lacking, and that is the courage that refuses to recognize the difficulties, mostly small ones, and really insignificant when faced boldly, that lie in the way of attaining our desires.
I read, a few days ago, a story—half a love story it was, yet professedly authentic—of a clergyman whose wife was in great danger from savages. With a companion she was making a hard race from a large body of savages for a place of at least temporary safety, while he, a half mile in the rear, was riding straight ahead regardless of the fact that to reach her side he must ride into and through a hundred of her pursuers. Suddenly while still far in the rear of the main body, a half dozen savages rose directly in his path, but he did not see them. The author of the tale does not mean that his hero actually failed to note their presence in his path he means that so intent was he in overtaking the larger party and rendering assistance to his wife, that he did not regard the presence of the smaller party that rose _in front of him. He made no effort to avoid them; did not sway to the right or the left; did not cease to keep his eyes fixed upon the object of his pursuit, but rode straight on as if they were nothing and no one were in his way.
His courage, his seeming consciousness of superiority, of ability to ride through or over them, so far daunted the half dozen savages that they gave way before him; and though they threw their spears their aim was uncertain and harmless. What we all need is the same kind of courage applied to the everyday affairs of life. We want to "not see" the savages that rise in our pathway and threaten to prevent the accomplishment of our legitimate desires. We need to be so much in earnest to accomplish our purpose that we do not turn aside, or consider as of importance, the difficulties that rise in the way of accomplishment. Difficulties are things to be swept aside, or ridden over. The obstacles we encounter are trifling if we do not give them thought. They are savages in war paint with eagle feathers in their hair—if we stop to gaze at them; and they grow more numerous the oftener they are counted. Looking over and beyond them, seeing clearly the object we are in pursuit of, and riding straight at it, obstacles are swept aside or become powerless to stay our onward course. It is courage for the everyday affairs of life that we need, and it is this courage in which the race is most lacking: it is this courage, or the lack of it, that distinguishes the master from the slave. For he is a slave to conditions who does not master them, and he who sees obstacles, in the sense of fearing and turning aside from them, will never attain to his desires.
To succeed one must first have an object, a purpose in life, and then must ride straight at it, regardless of the obstacles that rise in the path. This kind of courage is lacking in a vast majority of people, and accounts for their failure to accomplish anything. They never ride straight at their object. They see savages in their path and either stop and turn back, or swerve to this side or that, keeping their eyes on the obstacle instead of on the object to be attained, and pretty soon the object has faded from view and nothing remains but a memory of what was once a purpose in life.
I suppose the truth is that most people do not desire strongly enough. They do not care enough really about accomplishing what they start to do to give their undivided attention to it. They do not pursue an object with determined energy because their desire for its attainment is weak, and it is this lack of determination that appears to us as cowardliness. Men lack faith in themselves. They do not know, and will not believe, in the power of the will to overcome—of a positive mental condition over the negative forces in men and in nature. When all men have learned this we shall hear less or nothing about obstacles and failures in life, for all things array themselves on the side of those who have a knowledge of the law, and the courage not to see obstacles in their road to success.
More from Helen Wilmans
- Born in 1831 and died in 1907
- Studied under Emma Curtis Hopkins
- Was a journalist and author
- Was active in the Mental Science Movement
- Was charged with postal fraud for healing through mail. Fighting this charged caused her lose most of her fortune.