There are two pictures before the mind's eye of every man who undertakes a task — one of accomplishment, the other of failure. If strong enough, he will hold the picture of accomplishment before him until it takes form in achievement.
It matters not how small the undertaking, from the moment of its conception to the hour of its completion every achievement is besieged by opposition, antagonism and enmity; and he who produces to the world a faithful interpretation of the truth as he sees and feels it is a hero — nothing less. To be able to do this establishes the fact that he has stood the test and delivers the proof of an indomitable will — the will that is needed, the will that must come forward to defend the conviction and re-enforce the courage.
A man's severest tests come to him through himself. Doubt and fear assail him at every opportunity, and he rises or falls through banishing them as enemies or entertaining them as guests. If he holds to the picture of victory, he will succeed.
The man who wills to do right, and who wills right strongly, who holds to his purpose with undaunted courage, wins sooner or later. Obstacles only put off the day of accomplishment — they cannot prevent its fulfillment. Each time he comes back from the struggle, he understands better how to encounter the next difficulty. Each time he rises from a seeming defeat he is nearer to victory. He is listed among the fighters, the resisters, the men who refuse to be overcome by circumstance.
He who knows that under certain conditions he could walk right into affluence, yet will not part from his principles, grows inestimably while standing such a test. We are in danger of losing hold on our ideal when opposition crowds us hard. It is then we must put aside all thought of defeat and in its place hold fast to the picture of victory.
It takes real grit to put one's soul into that which is distasteful, but which duty and the sake of others compels us to do; yet these are the tests of all humanity, and we rise or fall in the scale of development according to the way we meet them.
It is easy to do what we like to do, easy to keep up the enthusiasm when work and environment are congenial and harmonious, but it is not easy to develop qualities of real manhood. It is the going up against a wall of difficulty, the wearing away of opposition, little by little, that proves the mettle of an individual.
The whole scheme of life is for self-mastery, and the man who can stick to a disagreeable task, who can force himself to infuse into it energy and strength, who can rigidly hold himself to a great purpose and never waver from that purpose, be the detail incident to its accomplishment inspiring or discouraging, is the one who meets his tests as a man.
The time was never better than now for silent examination. Are we standing the tests of every day and every hour with credit? Or are we among the deluded ones who blame others for their defeats, who spend their time when not recounting past conquests, nourishing that subtle and destructive ailment — self-pity?
Why not forge ahead and overcome the handicaps of circumstance, swim against the current and prove to the world that man-made opposition is impotent against the power of a constant faith and the will to do. These are the qualities that make for strength — we may be assailed on every side by temptation — but he is the really great, who holds fast to his ideals, and uses his strength not for himself but for the benefit of others. That man is a hero.
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