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Progress and People


Ernest Wood



An old proverb says that the worst is the perversion of the best. Man can be

more cruel than the tiger. A car accident or a plane crash is worse than the

tumble of a running man.


Therefore a superstition, which is perversion, is most dangerous, and the greater the truth connected with it the more carefully must its application be studied and watched. This is my preface to a study of human brotherhood in its three forms, which are


(1) our relation to our equals or

companions by the way,


(2) our relation to the unfortunates, the weak and the ignorant, and


(3) our relation to the superior persons or teachers.


First let us see the object in view in all such relationships.


All Theosophists will agree that this is the same for all people. It is their evolution. Evolution is said to be the result of experience. But that is not so. A cat cannot learn from a king, nor a fool from a wise man. Experience does not give us evolution. It is the use of our powers - our thought, will and love upon any experience which produces evolution.


Our powers evolve themselves by exercise, or better still, by exertion. Next, evolution is individual. In theological terms, God is fulfilling himself in each man - otherwise there would be no point in that man's existence. But it is not necessary to be theological in the matter, because we can see what is happening in any country. You cannot by process and act of parliament invent a dynamo or plane, or discover the electron, or paint the most beautiful picture.


Every original achievement - a little part or a big part of any discovery or invention, is due to the evolution of the powers of an individual, which in turn was due to his exertion of those powers.


That country is most progressive which

gives most opportunity for individual freedom in the exercise of those powers,

not that which drills its citizens like common soldiers, who, though well trained, are notoriously unintelligent.


If today it can no longer be said with

accuracy, as it could in former times, that the history of a nation may be written in the biography of a few individuals, that is because with the advancement of liberty our nations are seething with geniuses - there are too many to mention, so that we do not even know who is the inventor of many most useful articles, or who is the originator of most important elements in our social code. Can you say who invented or discovered matches, pins, rubber, the

carburetor, the dynamo or artificial silk?





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