The Three Best Things In The World by Arthur Brisbane

Story type: Essay

If you had choice of all qualities which man can possess, which three would you declare most important?

This question is submitted as interesting every man. We give our answer; if yours is different, send it here. —-

SELF-CONTROL.

JUSTICE.

IMAGINATION.

Those we think the most important elements in the human character. A man fully and evenly equipped with all three would be greater than any the world has known. —-

SELF-CONTROL you must start with.

It makes life worth while. It frees you from the danger of remorse, the wasted time of self- reproach. It sees opportunities as they come; saves you from damaging temptation. It is as important to a brain as is physical equilibrium to a work of masonry.

A man without self-control, a building out of plumb, cannot endure.

JUSTICE.

It is the foundation of all reputation worth the having. It is to man as necessary as the compass to a ship. It is the compass.

Justice will give reputation for greatness though you create nothing great. It will win affectionate reverence in life and a gratifying gravestone at life’s end. —-

IMAGINATION.

Greatest gift to man. It finds him grovelling here a pithecoid littleness.

The rough hair is gone from his body. His thumb has lost its monkey smallness; he walks flat on his feet.

But beyond that he has naught else to thank material nature for.

All the rest comes to him from imagination. Marvellous work she performs. She takes naked man with his low forehead, with his gruntings and whistlings through his teeth, and makes of him what man was meant to be.

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Very slowly she works, but ceaselessly. Her task is not nearly ended. At her first glimmerings man’s real life begins. He learns from her to add wood to a fire. No monkey ever did it. That stamps him a man.

Soon, with her help, he leaves the earth and travels off ten thousand million miles into space. He counts the suns in the Milky Way; travels in the air, under the water; harnesses lightning, controls nature. By IMAGINATION he is made CAPTAIN of this earthen ship on which he travels through space.

IMAGINATION separates Archimedes, working at his problems in the sunlight, from the vile soldier that slaughtered him.

Shakespeare rattling his ale pot and Johanna, the ape, shaking her bars at the Zoo are alike, save for difference of imagination.

SELF-CONTROL to balance you.

JUSTICE to guide you.

IMAGINATION to lend creative power.

“Equilibrium, Direction, Creation.”

The TRINITY ardently to be desired. —-

Long ago Plato announced that apparent differences are deceptive; that all things existing come from one casting–the mind of God–which he names “idea.”

Similarly to-day the solemn-thinking German tells you that matter and force are identical, that the interchangeable character of forces–heat light, magnetism, etc.–is part of the a, b, c of proved phenomena.

Haeckel stops digging up old bones and classifying sea microscopic organisms long enough to write “Monism,” expressing his belief that God is anything and everything from Orion to a tumble- bug.

It is quite easy to show that the selected three–self-control, justice and imagination–are in reality one. Each exists as part of the others. Each is made up of the other two.

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But this column is not devoted to any save simple things.

The question is this, once more:

What are man’s three most useful qualities–which three would you possess?

Do not call this question idle or believe that we cannot change ourselves. We CAN.

Napoleon said: “Never believe that a man ever changed his temperament.”

But Napoleon often said what was foolish.

It ought to delight you to know that you can change yourself if you want to, as you can change the arrangement of your back parlor.

Try it. It is hard work, but good exercise.

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