Thursday, November 18, 2010

A History Lesson

Who ne'er has suffered, he has lived but half, Who never failed, he never strove or sought, Who never wept is stranger to a laugh, And he who never doubted never thought. As I near the end of this, my favorite lesson of this course, I close my eyes for a moment and see before me a great army of men and women whose faces show the lines of care and despair. Some are in rags, having reached the last stage of that long, long trail which men call failure! Others are in better circumstances, but the fear of starvation shows plainly on their faces; the smile of courage has left their lips; and they, too, seem to have given up the battle. The scene shifts! I look again and I am carried backward into the history of mans struggle for a place in the sun, and there I see, also, the failures of the past - failures that have meant more to the human race than all the so-called successes recorded in the history of the world. I see the homely face of Socrates as he stood at the very end of that trail called failure, waiting, with upturned eyes, through those moments which must have seemed like an eternity, just before he drank the cup of hemlock that was forced upon him by his tormentors. I see, also, Christopher Columbus, a prisoner in chains, which was the tribute paid him for his sacrifice in having set sail on an unknown and uncharted sea, to discover an unknown continent. I see, also, the face of Thomas Paine, the man whom the English sought to capture and put to death as the real instigator of the American Revolution. I see him lying in a filthy prison, in France, as he waited calmly, under the shadow of the guillotine, for the death, which he expected, would be meted out to him for his part in behalf of humanity. And I see, also, the face of the Man of Galilee, as he suffered on the cross of Calvary - the reward he received for his efforts in behalf of suffering human Failures, all! Oh, to be such a failure. Oh, to go down in history, as these men did, as one who was brave enough to place humanity above the individual and principle above pecuniary gain. On such failures rest the hopes of the world. Oh, men, who are labeled failures - up, rise up! again and do! Somewhere in the world of action is room; there is room for you. No failure was eer recorded, in the annals of truthful men, Except of the craven-hearted who fails, nor attempts again. The glory is in the doing, and not in the trophy won; The walls that are laid in darkness may laugh to the kiss of the sun. Oh, weary and worn and stricken, oh, child of fates cruel gales! I sing - that it haply may cheer him - I sing to the man who fails. Be thankful for the defeat which men call failure, because if you can survive it and keep on trying it gives you a chance to prove your ability to rise to the heights of achievement in your chosen field of endeavor. No one has the right to brand you as a failure except yourself. If, in a moment of despair, you should feel inclined to brand yourself as a failure, just remember those words of the wealthy philosopher, Croesus, who was advisor to Cyrus, king of the Persians: I am reminded, O king, and take this lesson to heart, that there is a wheel on which the affairs of men revolve and its mechanism is such that it prevents any man from being always fortunate. What a wonderful lesson is wrapped up in those words - a lesson of hope and courage and promise. (Napolean Hill 1920 The Law of Failure)

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