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The great thing that makes us successful in life is the same thing that makes us happy. That which develops the sympathetic side of our character will transform the smile into a bearing. Only this morning I stepped into an electric car to go down town. There was no one in it but the conductor, and I made a remark to him about the weather. It was a very commonplace remark, certainly it gave no information, and had the same shallowness of all such remarks about the weather. But I was glad, for my good friend looked at me with a sympathetic smile and said, “ Yes, we can hardly expect July weather this time of year. I don't see any mosquitoes flying around.”
That hearty remark and smile made me happier all the day.
Really, something may be said for people's talking about the weather. If it breaks the ice of modern conventionality, it may be a good thing.
Certainly the simple greetings between neighbors do not deserve the sarcasm which is usually poured out upon the common-placisms about the weather.
Simple as a smile is, it reveals some of the deepest feelings of the human heart. A smile is a recognition of our own individuality, a joyous realization of our identity; it manifests the attitude of our being toward our fellow-men, toward life and all things. It means sympathy, love, joy, fellowship, willingness to receive as well as willingness to give that which is good.
HIGHER FUNCTIONS AND INFLUENCES
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So intertwined is the human smile with human endeavor, human character, that almost innumerable are the points which might be narrated, upon which a study of the smile throws light.
Think what a right understanding of the point of view means in the elevation of the race. What a great gain it would be if we could appreciate the point of view of the Oriental. This is the one thing to which man must come and he must come to it through the appreciation of human art, of human poetry and the study of the depths of human experience as revealed in expression. Then the races may so understand each other and enter into so much sympathy that the Federation of the World will be realized and universal peace will come.
Americans have boasted greatly of being able to enter into sympathetic touch with all the world. It was an American admiral who sailed in and brought the Japanese into touch with the modern world. But the Japanese brought something which the whole civilized world should properly prize. Only a few have devoted themselves intensely to the understanding of their great art; their subtle poetry, and the depth and intensity of their character.
One of my most honored classmates, nearly forty years ago, was a Japanese gentleman, who
has done great service to his country, and is now a most prominent member of the House of Lords. He wrote in my notebook once this beautiful little poem:
“Four seas, all brothers."
“Only four words," you say. “ Can you call a single line a poem?" someone asks. Yes, it is a poem complete, and one who will pause and really think may get the Japanese point of view and realize how great a poem it is, its shortness adding not only to its sublimity but to the depth of its meaning and the impression it produces upon us.
The four seas around Japan broaden out into one great ocean. So he, an Oriental, and I an Occidental, different in training and temperament, down deep in our hearts were brothers. So all nations, though seemingly so different and narrowed into such different channels, yet as we penetrate into the depths of their hearts, all are brothers.
I have listened to lectures on Japanese art which totally failed to realize the first step toward its appreciation.
A great art critic once wrote: “ No one can do a man a greater service than to give him a new point of view.” This is true not only in art but in life, not only of individuals but of nations.
There have been smiles that have gone over a whole nation. There have been frowns that have been caught up by a whole race. Alas, who can measure race prejudice, its depth and degradation, or realize its cost and unhappiness.
A war between mighty nations, a war of long years costing billions of dollars and destroying millions of lives, may hang upon a smile or a frown! The narrow smile of selfishness and egotism, of self-satisfaction, of pleasure at other's pain, these are passing away. The time is coming, if it is not already here, when a smile can be felt over the whole world, shared in by all peoples, nations, tongues and languages.
There have been periods in the history of the Christian religion which made a virtue of sadness and gloom. One great unbeliever, who studied deep into the whole history of Christianity, defined it as the “ worship of sorrow.”
He was far away from the truth. Even of the Master it was said, “Who for the joy that was set before you endured the cross.” It is the glory of the religion that it brings joy out of sorrow. It is victory over sorrow. It is a method of destroying the cause of sorrow. Has anyone ever counted the references to joy in the New Testament?
At the grave of Lazarus, as the eyes of the Master were lifted in prayer, what did He say? “I thank Thee.”
How often are men taught to pray“ with thanksgiving.” “Rejoice ever more, pray without ceasing." Men speak continually on the importance of the last half of this verse. Why forget the first? Thanksgiving and joy open the human heart; by them higher things enter into the human being.
Joy is the fundamental principle of the universe. Paradoxical as it may seem, joy is the most serious and lasting of all emotions unless it be love.
The smile is the sign of faith. But what is faith? There are three views regarding it. To some faith is simply belief. This is the lowest possible element of faith. A man may believe all kinds of lies and falsehoods. One may receive a telegram that his father is dead, and have all the agony be
cause he believes the message. Another telegram comes telling him that it is a mistake, the house was burned but his father was not in the room where they thought he was, and he was safe.
He who believes that faith is trying to make oneself believe a thing whether it be true or not destroys more faith than he can ever awaken.
Some go further and say that faith is understanding, that all belief is bad, necessarily bad, no matter whether it is belief in good or in bad. True faith must have a rational basis, and can result only from a definite and true understanding of principle.
Still others hold that the primary element of faith is trust, others, a matter of instinct. A little child takes its mother's hand and feels courage and confidence. Faith, to such persons, is a kind of intuition, a yielding of self to something they feel to be greater than themselves.
Still another may think that the highest element of faith is synonymous with loyalty,-a certain loyalty to creed, a loyal acceptance of the plans of our human nature, the plans of the whole world, the plan of the powers that are above us. This loyalty implies a determination to make a heroic realization, an acceptance of difficulties, not a whining search for something easier, not an antagonistic resistance to what we feel is not good.
All of these contain elements of faith. Belief is merely instinctive; it is hardly worthy of faith until it rises to understanding. After a man understands, then he must trust; he must say, “ Not my will but Thine”; may that be done which is better and higher. I will accept that which is true at all hazards.
Again, the element of loyalty is a necessary