[Temple, Inner Court]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 31: Evening


Keep all thy native good, and naturalize

All forrain of that name; but scorn their ill:

Embrace their activenesse, not vanities.

Who follows all things, forfeiteth his will.

   If thou observest strangers in each fit,

   In time they 'l runne thee out of all thy wit.

          Keep all your native good, and tailor all foreign good, but avoid their ill. Embrace their energy, not their vanities. Who copies all things gives up his will. If you imitate strangers in each spasm [of their behavior], in time they will run you out of all your sanity.

          Do not relinquish your own good, that which you, personally, or as a community know to be good. Observe the good that is foreign to you, and embrace and modify all good to your needs and situation. Avoid slavish parroting of their good and shun their frivolous conceit, their evil and their errors. If you try to follow and duplicate everything that everyone does, you will be no better for it. More importantly you will lose your self control. But evaluate what you see and know is good, and what can be beneficial and helpful to others. Instead determine how best to use this good in your own circumstances.

          Goodness is not exclusively native to us, personally, communally or nationally. Morality dwells in everyone, including strangers, foreigners, criminals and outcasts of society. Even when people are shut off from acceptance by the general society, morality is still possible for them, and goodness, no matter where it is, teaches every moral person. The first step distinguishes moral conversation and loving actions. No matter who performs these good deeds, we must learn to recognize them. Keep all natural, home-grown good. Do not give it up to imitate others. What you have found to be helpful and beneficial, good for you and those you serve, keep it in the face of the new, fad, accepted or foreign. Retain the true and good.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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