Desiderata — Strive to be happy

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Desiderata — Strive to be happy

The other day I came across the following “written communication.” I call it a written communication because I am not sure if it was a letter or political advice or what. My imagination went wild. Was it to someone who felt they had lost something or someone? Was it to a church congregation during a war time? Or perhaps to someone who had worked hard all their life to do good and still was persecuted? Someone pointed out to me just recently that even when you do right, in today’s world it can be wrong.

The following was found in Old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore. It is dated 1692.

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all that shame, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

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