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Reflection 22 (p12 - cont)
Why Do Right? A Secularist's Answer

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While admitting that the moral brightness of life is some-what tarnished by the base, the brutal, the suicidal, and the insane characters that are still found in our midst, we believe in the law of progress and the work of reform. We recognize a powerful motive for being good in the belief that such conditions may be produced that shall tend to remove depravity and to establish righteousness. Such disasters as the cholera, and numerous other epidemics that once made uncontrolled havoc upon society, have been checked by the application of suitable scientific remedies; why, then, should not moral evils be made to yield to judicious treatment? When men understand that moral law is as certain as physical law, and as necessary to be obeyed if we are to have a healthy state in human ethics, the reformation of the community will be capable of achievement. Whether we regard man as the creature or the creator of circumstances, or as both, it is certain that his organism and its environment act and re-act upon each other, While intelligence indicates the best way to pursue in life, it is obvious that circumstances must be such as to permit of our pursuing that way. From what we know of human nature, it appears to us necessary that it should be surrounded with inducements that have the power to draw out the best that is in it. It has been well said that man is a bundle of habits, therefore moral forces become strong as they become a part of the habit of life. We cannot reasonably expect the State to be ruled by right and love unless those virtues exist in the citizens. No nation has ever attempted to live like a society - of friends -- without jails, policemen, etc. -- because the idea of moral duty has been only partially realized. In proportion as we properly understand the nature of goodness, and regulate our lives by its genius, so shall we be governed by ideas instead of by force. The misfortune of our present societarian condition is the difficulty attending its improvement. Although, like trees, we grow and expand from within, there seems, as it were, an iron band around us, that prevents our free expansion and our full growth. The quality of our acts may be good in a certain degree, but it is not of the required strength. The quality has been impoverished through neglect and theological adulteration; and what is now required is persistent and intelligent conduct, that shall purify life, and rid it of the legacy of the ignorance, the folly, and the superstition of the dark past. Our hope is in purification; we want earnestness and candor to take the place of the apathy and hypocrisy which have so long held sway. Then real goodness will illuminate the hearts of men, and virtue will shed its lustre upon the emancipated humanity of the world.

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