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to make a promise which they either know, or should know, can not be kept. No small part of our troubles in dealing with many of the gravest social questions, such as the so-called labor question, the trust question, and others like them, arises from these two attitudes. We can do a great deal when we undertake, soberly, to do the possible. When we undertake the impossible, we too often fail to do anything at all. The success of the law for the taxation of franchises recently enacted in New York State, a measure which has resulted in putting upon the assessment books nearly $200,000,000 worth of property which had theretofore escaped taxation, is an illustration of how much can be accomplished when effort is made along sane and sober lines, with care not to promise the impossible but to make performance square with promise, and with insistence on the fact that honesty is never one-sided, and that in dealing with corporations it is necessary both to do to them and to exact from them full and complete justice. The success of this effort, made in a resolute but also a temperate and reasonable spirit, shows what can be done when such a problem is approached in a sound and healthy manner. It offers a striking contrast to the complete breakdown of the species of crude and violent anti-trust legislation which has been so often attempted, and which has always failed, because of its very crudeness and violence, to make any impression upon the real and dangerous evils which have excited such just popular resentment.
I thank you for listening to me. I have come here to-day not to preach to you, but partly to tell you how these matters look and seem to me, and partly to set forth certain facts which seem to me to show the essential community that there is among all of us who strive in good faith to do our duty as American citizens. No man can do his duty who does not work, and the work may take many different shapes, mental and physical; but of this you can rest assured, that this work can be done well for the nation only when each of us approaches his separate task, not only with the determination to do it, but with the knowledge that his fellc v, when he in his turn does his task, has fundamentally the same rights and the same duties, and that while each must work for himself, yet each must also work for the common welfare of all.
On the whole, we shall all go up or go down together. Some may go up or go down further than others, but, disregarding special exceptions, the rule is that we must all share in common something of whatever adversity or whatever prosperity is in store for the nation as a whole. In the long run each section of the community will rise or fall as the community rises or falls. If hard times come to the nation, whether as the result of natural causes or because they are invited by our own folly, all of us will suffer. Certain of us will suffer more, and others less, but all will suffer somewhat. If, on the other hand, under Providence, our own energy and good sense bring prosperity to us, all will share in that prosperity. We will not all share alike, but something each one of us will get. Let us strive to make the conditions of life such that as nearly as possible each man shall receive the share to which he is honestly entitled and no more; and let us remember at the same time that our efforts must be to build up, rather than to strike down, and that we can best help ourselves, not at the expense of others, but by heartily working with them for the common good of each and all.
ADDRESS BEFORE THE YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN
ASSOCIATION, CARNEGIE HALL, NEW YORK,
DECEMBER 30, 1900
IT is a peculiar pleasure to me to come before you to-night to greet you and to bear testimony to the great good that has been done by these Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations throughout the United States. More and more we are getting to recognize the law of combination. This is true of many phases in our industrial life, and it is equally true of the world of philanthropic effort. Nowhere is it, or will it ever be, possible to supplant individual effort, individual initiative; but in addition to this there must be work in combination. More and more this is recognized as true not only in charitable work proper, but in that best form of philanthropic endeavor where we all do good to ourselves by all joining together to do good to one another. This is exactly what is done in your associations.
It seems to me that there are several reasons why you are entitled to especial recognition from all who are interested in the betterment of our American social system. First and foremost, your organization recognizes the vital need of brotherhood, the most vital of all our needs here in this great Republic. The existence of a Young Men's or Young Women's Christian Association is certain proof that some people at least recognize in practical shape the identity of aspiration and interest, both in things material and in things higher, which with us must be widespread through the masses of our people if our national life is to attain full development. This spirit of brotherhood recognizes of necessity both the need of selfhelp and also the need of helping others in the only way which ever ultimately does great good, that is, of helping them to help themselves. Every man of us needs such help at some time or other, and each of us should be glad to stretch out his hand to a brother who stumbles. But while every man needs at times to be lifted up when he stumbles, no man can afford to let himself be carried, and it is worth no man's while to try thus to carry some one else. The man who lies down, who will not try to walk, has become a mere cumberer of the earth's surface.