Looking at Life, there are no short cuts
Our generation has lived to see the time when most of the children of earth live their lives from day to day with heavy hearts, with threatening danger, with the fear of uncertainty haunting their sleeping and waking hours, in the midst of physical want, mental anguish, and deep sorrow.
Of the seven billion children of our Father in Heaven who walk the ways of life in this our day, some one-third are, or have been in the recent past, actually or technically at war in one way or the other, and of those comparatively few who have thus far escaped, many millions are daily witnesses of its ugly, threatening shape, some closer, some more distant. And then, add unto this public tragedy the personal grief and worries and disappointments of all the men of the Earth, and the burden of sorrow appears to be such as would crush the spirit of mankind.
But this it fails to do, because there is yet sufficient faith in the ultimate triumph of good, sufficient confidence in the eventual accomplishment of justice, sufficient belief in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and sufficient assurance that these fleeting days are only a drop in the sea of eternity. Thinking of life in terms of any given moment or any given day of any given year might give it a sombre, disappointing character. But thinking of it in terms of a march toward achievement without limit, into worlds without end, in pursuit of knowledge too vast to be exhausted, with hope too real to be daunted, and purposes too profound to be understood here and now – in the light of such things to be realised, the difficulties of the moment become secondary, and the certainties of the future overshadow the uncertainties of the present.
To those who are discouraged with their own lives, or with the outlook in general, we cite the example of a prophet of God who was young and who loved life and who thought his lot was hard and who complained of those experiences which he had been called upon to pass through, and unto him, the Father of us all, gave this word: “My son, peace be unto your soul. Thine adversity and thine affliction shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all.” (Doctrine and Covenants 121: 7 and 8) Of such is the message to all who are weary and sick of heart.
Within our generation we have learned to do many things better and more quickly than have ever been done before within recorded time. This efficiency has given us many blessings and material advantages. We have seen the assembly line and the factory belt pour forth material goods at a speed that is almost beyond our belief, even though we know it to be so. We have seen the words of men travel with the speed of light, and man himself move more than half the speed of sound.
But the by-product of all this is the idea that we can make short cuts to any destination we may have in mind. Those who suppose this, fail to differentiate between material and intangible things. We may turn our automobile and airplane motors with ever increasing speed, but we can’t build character faster than a man lives, faster than he gains experience, faster than he learns to cherish principles. We can increase the production of household conveniences, but we can’t find intelligence where it doesn’t exist, or integrity where it hasn’t been planted and nurtured. We can pour concrete across the course of a racing river, but we can’t pour honesty, courage, fidelity, devotion and self-reliance into our children in any way except the old fashioned way the hard way, as some would now describe it. We may revolutionise an industry in six easy steps, but beware of people who want to make a man in six easy lessons – who offer to give us poise and culture and talent and a commanding personality in a short time, for a stipulated price, with a minimum of effort. These and all the other elements of human character, don’t come by the speed-up system.
Looking at the thing squarely, we must face the fact that there is no short cut to any worthwhile horizon, where man himself is concerned. And those who think they are on a shortcut are in reality on a detour. Those who ignore the rules and disregard the commandments, are fooling themselves, and only themselves. Those who gamble for high stakes with the issues of life, aren’t gambling at all– they are playing a sure game a game they are sure to lose. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way” the Saviour of mankind said, and those who travel the by-paths will find that they are chasing after mirages. No matter how difficult it seems at times to live life in all of its fundamental soundness, both of preparation and of practice, it is, in reality, the easy way, because no other way leads anywhere that anyone wants to go. And this all men would do well to remember when they begin to cast about for short cuts to glory and for easy access to the ultimate and intrinsic values of life.
Samuel Enos Eghan