Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 8 (December 1, 1929)

The Way We Go — Ins and Outs of Life

page 57

The Way We Go
Ins and Outs of Life

There are dreams and schemes for peace and goodwill among men—millions of dreams and thousands of schemes. Many of the schemes are in a muddle of ink on paper, but they are mostly in the air. Everybody hopes that somebody will do something in the making of goodwill, but everybody has to feel the force of the truth that everybody must do something. The world does not need bubbles of hope and babbles of orders for goodwill.

* * *

Voices and hopes in Parliament! The visions of the man who secretly believes that he is a born orator, a natural “crowd-compeller,” spellbinder, who strives for years to be elected, and finally finds himself in the House of Representatives talking to his fellow members. How different to the calm serenity of his listeners, from the warm enthusiasm or the bitter hostility of audiences in those fervid hours on the hustings! However, the average member survives those shocks and slights—which are given without intentional cruelty—and is usually pleased to seek re-election.

* * *

When a man has a new idea, a good idea, it is usual to meet far more objections to it than promises of support. A new idea is always a disturbing thing; it threatens somebody's rest or rust.

* * *

Humanity swings between the poles of idealism and materialism. The swing varies in an individual at different periods of life. Indeed at one time a man may be a medley of materialism and idealism. “There is only one really startling thing to do with an ideal, and that is to do it,” wrote Gilbert Chesterton.

* * *

Some conservatism is wise and some is foolish, but whether it is wise or foolish it will be always inherent in human nature, which will always tend to take the line of least resistance, in obedience to the law of inertia.

There is nothing that succeeds like failure, when a proper understanding of the failure becomes a great inspiration, a stimulus to success. Some men are spoilt by a series of small successes. Others rise to greatness in the rebound from one big drop.

* * *

“History repeats itself,” somebody or other keeps saying. It is the only thing history can do, just as the only thing the old earth can do is to keep rolling round and round the sun. So that old-time journalist, the town-crier, has returned in the radio announcer.

* * *

Of course we all know the difference between a hobby and a fad, but it is not easy to put our opinion into words acceptable by the world at large. Our own enthusiasms are high principles, articles of faith, or respectable hobbies, but the illusions, delusions, or toys of others may be fads. As usual the dictionary is a hindrance to a clear understanding of the matter. My book says that a hobby may be “any favourite object, plan, or pursuit,” and that a fad may be “a favourite theory, crotchet, or hobby.”

* * *

Unpaid hobbies have more affected the course of events in the world than paid occupations have done. Direct monetary gain has not been the main driving force of the world's greatest conquerors, statesmen, churchmen, scientists and poets.

page 58

Attitudes about to-day and to-morrow may be largely dependent on climate. Even a lazy Eskimo will not defer “digging in” against the cruel threat of his Arctic winter. But in the sunny South Sea Islands the placid Polynesian may have scant relish for the British belief in to-dayism. That is why more than a third of the population of the Hawaiian Isles is Japanese, and why Hindoos are numerous in Fiji. When labour was wanted for the sugar fields of Hawaii long ago the native showed no yearning for a working place in the sun. He would be pleased to go swimming or fishing, or to put the fragrant hibiscus bloom in his hair and a wreath of bright flowers about his neck, and sing softly for hours about his ancestors or fabulous birds and beasts—but it was a perpetual to-morrow for the canefields. He did not need cane-sugar, nor money. “Why should he work?” a commentator has written. “He could grow a little taro, find plenty of fruit; and there were fish in the sea, wine in the palm, and pigs in the bush after the white man came. What more could any man want in a benign climate amid surroundings entirely beautiful?”

* * *

Many writers have found themselves in difficulties with weather in various chapters of their books.
“The work of a State in the long run is the work of the individuals composing it.“—J. S. Mill. (Courtesy, Mr. H. H. Sterling.) A recent view of the Parliamentary Buildings, Wellington, New Zealand.

“The work of a State in the long run is the work of the individuals composing it.“—J. S. Mill.
(Courtesy, Mr. H. H. Sterling.)
A recent view of the Parliamentary Buildings, Wellington, New Zealand.

Mark Twain saw that trouble, and took care to avoid it in one of his works. He put the whole of the weather in the preface, and readers were invited to help themselves to any kind of weather which they wished to associate with any part of the narrative. Mark's ruse was like that of the schoolboy who amalgamated all the punctuation marks of a composition into one big blob at the end.

* * *

It is so long since I heard the toast of “The Ladies” proposed at a banquet that the formula and the supporting remarks are a little blurred in my mind. Perhaps I did not listen very keenly, for this toast usually came near the end of the feast, and the speeches generally were not very sparkling. However, the conclusion of the salutatory utterance—which might be stuttery, stammery, halting, or confused—was definite: “Gentlemen the Ladies!” And the glasses were lifted on high, with hearty ejaculations of “God bless ‘em,” and the customary chanty of cheers…. Things have moved since then. Now that the girls have taken to men's sports and “spots,” they may have their own smoke-specials—they would not, of course, be “soak-smocials”—and one of the concluding toasts may be: “Ladies, the Gentlemen!” And perhaps somebody might kindly exclaim: “God bless ‘em.” Let the men hope so. They need it.