The Free lance. (State College, Pa.) 1887-1904, June 01, 1899, Image 14

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    We speak of social organisms, and what are they ? 'The great
est of them are called nations; and just as one author quotes
another, so one nation imitates another. The modern reflects the
medival, the mediaeval the ancient. Each echoes the arts, the
sciences, religion, customs, and laws of the other until, as we
study the past and the present, we are indeed led to believe that,
History repeats itself."
, But what is a nation? What are the virtues relative to this
social function. Plato's cardinal virtues for his ideal state are,
Wisdom, Courage, Temperance and Justice. Courage and tem
perance for the individual citizen; wisdom and justice for the
nation. And if we look back through all history, we can find the
nations which have exemplified one or another of these virtues,
'Tis said the Jews have given the world a religion; but what is
that but courage, not the mere courage of the battle-field, but the
spirit of courage underlying . our daily action. The aim of the
moral law is to overcome evil. Temptation is, however, but a
desire to avoid pain or secure pleasure; and it certainly requires
courage to overcome either,—active courage which pursues its
course in spite of the probability of pain, or the allurement of
pleasure, and passive courage which bears inevitable suffering
without flinching.
But how shall we know the right course to pursue ? 'Tis by
virtue of wisdom; and for this we are indebted to the Greeks.
Not that wisdom can be bought or sold, given away, nor yet in
herited; but the Greeks, the greatest thinkers that the world has
ever known, have taught men to think, and thinking has devel
oped the consciousness until the conscience having been enlight
ened points out more clearly the right way, develops the ideal,
and leads us on to the realization of our highest rational self.
But in the pursuit of our ideal we find ourselves free agents to
act as we please. 'Tis easy thus to see why the savage practi
cally has no restraints; but with the advent of learning we find
that customs arise which must be respected, and these in turn
give way. to laws which must be obeyed. We come to realize, in
fact, " that we have the most liberty by sacrificing a part of our
freedom.." This growth or development of law is due to the
temperance .or self-restraint of the individual. He restrains him
self from some act because he thinks it wrong; but if it is wrong
for him, then it is wrong for others; and if others cannot see that