DEMOCRACY IS SELF-GOVERNMENT
Harold W. Percival
Honesty and truthfulness are the distinctive marks of good character. All departures from honesty and truthfulness in thought and act lead to varying degrees of wrong doing and falsehood which are distinctive marks of not-good character. Honesty and truthfulness are the fundamental principles of character in the human world. Character developed on these principles is stronger than adamant and finer than gold. Then character will stand all tests and trials; it will be the same in prosperity as in adversity; it will be posed in joy or in sorrow, and it will be dependable under every circumstance and condition through the vicissitudes of life. But character with incentives other than honesty and truthfulness is always uncertain, variable, and unreliable.
Characters are shown and known by their distinguishing characteristics, as dispositions, temperaments, traits, inclinations, tendencies, attitudes, customs, habits, which indicate the kind of character one is. It is often said that the distinguishing characteristics of a character will always be the distinctive marks of that individual character. That cannot be true, else good character would always remain good; bad character would be bad. Then good characters could not become bad, nor could bad become good characters. If that were true, the not-very bad could not become worse, and there would be no possibility of their becoming better. It is true that the disposition or inclination tends to continue as the distinctive marks of the character. But the character in every human has the power to change its disposition and tendencies and habits for ill or for good, as and when it wills. Character is not made by habits; habits are formed and changed by character. It requires little effort to degrade and lower one’s character, as compared with the effort to cultivate and refine and strengthen it.
Character as the feeling-and-desire of the Doer in the human is expressed by what is said and by what is done, as right or as wrong. Excellence of character results from thinking and acting in accord with rightness and reason. Any thought or act opposed to rightness and reason, to law and justice, is wrong. Thinking for wrong obscures the right and increases the wrong. Right thinking changes and eradicates the wrong and manifests the right. Because of law and justice in the worlds and because honesty and truthfulness as principles are inherent in the Doer, rightness and reason will eventually overcome crookedness and injustice of character in the human. Character chooses to right the wrongs by right thinking and right action or to obscure the right and so let the wrongs manifest and multiply. Always character chooses as it thinks, and thinks as it chooses. The seeds of every virtue and vice, pleasure and pain, disease and cure, originate and are rooted in character in the human. By thinking and acting, character chooses what it wills to manifest.
Without distinctive character, what the human is would become a meaningless mass of matter. Man as a machine cannot make the character; character as the Doer makes the man-machine. Character qualifies and distinguishes every object that is made. And every object made bears the distinctive marks of the feeling-and-desire of the one who originated or who made it. Characteristics of a character are breathed through the tone of every word spoken, by glance of the eye, expression of the face, poise of head, movement of hand, stride, carriage of body and especially by the bodily atmosphere kept alive and circulated by these characteristics.
Every character, as the feeling-and-desire of the Doer in the human, was originally distinguished by its honesty and truthfulness. But, because of its experiences with other characters in the world, it changed its characteristics to be like others that it dealt with, until the different characters are as they are today. That original experience is repeated by the feeling-and-desire of every Doer, each time that it comes into the world. Sometime after the Doer comes into the human body it is to live in, it asks the mother of the body to tell it who and what and where it is, and where it came from and how it got here. The good mother does not know that the one who asks the question is not her child. She has forgotten that she at one time asked her mother the same questions that the Doer in her child is asking her. She does not know that she shocks the Doer when she tells it that it is her child; that the doctor or the stork brought it to her; that its name is the name which she has given the body which is her child. The Doer knows that the statements are untrue, and it is shocked. Later on, it notices that people are dishonest with each other and with it. When the Doer truthfully and trustingly tells what it has done, that it should not have done, the body it is in is often scolded and sometimes slapped or spanked. So, from experience, it gradually learns to be dishonest and untruthful, in great or little things.
A character changes or refuses to change its characteristics, as to what it chooses or allows itself to be. This it can determine at any time in any life; and it remains the character it is or changes to the characteristics it chooses to have by thinking and feeling as and what it wants to be. And it can have honesty and truthfulness as its distinctive marks by determining to have and to be them. This is so because honesty and truthfulness are of the principles of Rightness and Reason, Law and Justice, by which this world and other bodies in space are governed, and to which the conscious Doer in every human body should be attuned, so that each one may be responsible, a law within himself, and thus be a law-abiding citizen of the land in which he dwells.
How can the Doer in the human be so attuned to Rightness and Reason that one may think and act with law and with justice?
Let there be clear understanding: rightness and reason are the Thinker, and identity and knowledge the Knower, of the immortal Triune Self of which it, as the Doer in the body, is an integral part.
To be so attuned, the Doer must attune itself. The rightness is the eternal law through all the world. In the human it is conscience. And conscience speaks as the sum of knowledge of rightness in relation to any moral subject. When conscience speaks, that is the law, rightness, to which feeling of the Doer should respond and with which it should readily function if it would attune itself to rightness and have its character distinguished by honesty. This the feeling can and will do if it determines to listen to and be guided by conscience, as the self-evident sum of its inner knowledge of rightness, in relation to any moral subject or question. The feeling of the Doer in the human seldom, if ever, pays attention to its conscience. Instead of questioning and listening to conscience, feeling gives its attention to the impressions from the objects of nature coming through the senses, and which impressions feeling feels as sensations. Responding to the sensation, feeling is directed and led by the senses to objects of the sensation and to follow where they lead; and the senses furnish experience, nothing more than experience. And the sum of all experience is expediency. Expediency is the teacher of trickery and treachery. Therefore, with expediency as its law feeling is led into devious ways and is eventually unable to extricate itself from the entanglements into which it gets.
Well then, what is Justice? Abstractly, and as a generalization, Justice is the equitable administration of the law of Rightness throughout the worlds. To the Doer in the human, Justice is the action of knowledge in relation to the subject, in compliance with the law of Rightness. To this, desire should respond, and must do so, if it is to attune itself to Reason and be distinguished by truthfulness. But if the desire of the Doer in the human refuses to listen to Reason, it then repudiates the law of Rightness, by which feeling might possibly be impressed. Instead of choosing to have the advice of Reason, desire impatiently urges to execute the dictates of the senses which feeling follows, and without always heeding expediency concerning what it should or should not do. Without Reason, desire makes its might its laws of right; and, making opportunity, it takes for granted that Justice is for it to get what it wants. It will wreck or ruin to get what it wants. Then the character of the Doer in the human treats law and order with contempt, and is a foe to truthfulness.
Force is its own authority of the objects of nature through the senses of nature. Force is transitory; it cannot be trusted.
Character has its authority in law and Justice in the permanence of knowledge, where there is no doubt.
Character must be self-governed, so that it may act justly and be not deceived, else the objects of the senses through the senses will continue to degrade and enslave character.
The Doer may for a long time rule and be ruled by force from without, instead of governing itself by moral power from within. But it cannot always do that. The Doer must learn and it will learn that as it conquers by force, so will it be in turn crushed by force. The Doer has continually refused to learn that eternal Law and Justice rule the world; that it should not continue to destroy the bodies in which it lives, and be repeatedly swept off the face of the earth; that it must learn to rule itself by the moral power of right and reason from within, and be in accord with the righteous management of the world.
The time now is, or will in future be, when the Doer will no longer work the destruction of its bodies. The Doer in the human will be conscious that it is the feeling and conscious power in the body; it will understand that it is the self-exiled Doer of the Thinker and Knower of its own immortal Triune Self. The Doer will be conscious that it is in its own interest, and in the interest of all Doers in human bodies, to be self-governed by Rightness and Reason from within. Then it will see and understand that by self-government it has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. Understanding this, mankind will consciously grow into the seeing and hearing and tasting and smelling of a new earth. And there will be a greater mankind as each is self-governed and makes of the earth a garden, in which there will be understanding and love, because each Doer will be conscious of its own Thinker and Knower and will walk with power and in peace. That future state will be brought into the present by the development of self-governed characters. Self-government is its own guaranty of the power and trustworthiness of character. Character and government are to be and will be consummated by self-government.
Copyright 1980 by The Word Foundation, Inc.