An organ can produce a thunderous outburst of discordant sounds but it can also, when played properly, give forth the most soothing and peaceful melodies. So it is with human passions. They can be sued without regard to law or they can be governed to foster joy and affection.
A person may have the knowledge of music and yet not enjoy it, as Nietzche did before his madness as he thumped the keys of the piano with his elbows. So too we may have a knowledge of love and yet not show love to others.
One wonders if an apology for want of love is not the effect of sampling one person out of every ten thousand and then writing a history of their passions. Would it not tend to substitute statistical average for a noble emotion? Then, too, is it scientific? Suppose we decided to write a history of the United States, and took only one day of every ten thousand days. That would be writing one event every twenty-seven years.
What one sets out to find, one generally finds. Those who are critical by nature, almost always find faults in others. If we start with the assumption that most people are dishonest, are we not constantly bumping up against crooks? On the contrary, if we believe people to be kind and good-hearted, these are about the only kind of souls we ever meet. They who are afraid of accidents most generally have them; their first principle of always looking for the worst makes the worst appear. Sometimes it is possible to tell a person to hide something in a room, and later discover the hiding place by taking hold of his hand and following its instinctive motions. When one begins with the idea that infidelity is common and that one ought to search for it, it is very likely that one will instinctively go to those areas and persons where infidelity is common and avoid those other groups or people where infidelity is less likely to be manifested. Tramps coming to New York, even for the first time, land in the Bowery, not on Park Avenue. What we believe is to a great extent a determinant of where we will go, like an alcoholic to a bar, and a Christian to a church.
The mood of our century is critical, partly because of its own uneasy conscience. "Misery loves company," it is said but so also does evil. The good has but few publicists. Most newspaper editors love murders, graft and scandals, but how few ever headline virtue. And yet the world is so full of good people, heroic deeds, generous hearts. Take the most sublime acts of love that is possible in this world, namely dying as a martyr rather than deny the God of Love. Never in history have there been as many martyrs as there are today. The martyrdoms of the first 250 years of Christian history are trivial in comparison to the unnumbered heroes of the soul who have died for the faith today. This is loyalty! This is fidelity! And any civilizations that can produce martyrs on such a high level must necessarily produce them on a lower level even in the home. What heat is to the natural universe, that love is to the moral universe.
It is love that needs sampling today, mostly because love does so little advertising of its own. Being humble by nature, like the violet, it is served by few propagandists. Cities report births as well as deaths; why then should not publicists be as interested in those who love as well as those who betray? It is part of the perversity of human nature to give more space to an ancient or a modern Benedict Arnold who betrayed his country than to ten thousand patriots who died for it. But the solemn fact remains that faithfulness, honor, control of errant impulses and love keep the world at peace. It would be well for us, in these days when men look for evil and find it, to look for good and diffuse it - in particular among the millions of cases of disinterested love where others are served, with no hope of ever receiving even an empty hand in grateful clasp.