Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/70

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discrimination need be made. The exhortations to charity and benevolence never specify the objects minutely, while, in fact, this should be the all-important feature. In seeming prohibition to any suggestion of discrimination we are told that benevolence should be universal, because the Creator "maketh his sun to rise upon the evil and upon the good, and sendeth rain upon the just and upon the unjust." Now, in the case of sunshine and rain it would be physically impossible to discriminate. It should also be remembered that the same Creator for the same reason sendeth the lightning and the earthquake to destroy both the just and the unjust. But, what is more to the present purpose, he starves to death those who in summer fail to lay by a supply of food for the winter; he smites with disease those who are too lazy to cultivate cleanliness; and he visits the iniquities of fathers upon thoughtless children to the third and fourth generation. Here is a lesson in discrimination of cause and effect not to be overshadowed by a few platitudes about rain.

But we must turn to consider the economic effects of altruism by means of which we are to distinguish justifiable altruism from unjustifiable altruism. So much of description has been necessitated by the newness of the subject, and even now it is to be feared that those who have never discriminated as to doing good to others, except as regards the purity of motive in the doer, will feel more concerned about the integrity of the precepts that have been dissected than about the analysis of truth. Be that as it may—and it would be a matter of regret to offend the ancient prejudices of any—it is to be hoped that the economic remarks to follow will but substantiate and illustrate the principles already laid down.

Now that we have reached the study of social, political, and economic science, we are called upon to analyze the subject, to define our terms carefully, to be sure that we build our sciences on facts, and to state our conclusions clearly. And our conclusions are most hopeful. They are, that in doing real and not seeming good to ourselves we also benefit the race; that in doing good to others it is not necessary or wise that we inflict sore deprivation or indignity upon ourselves; that thrift and wisdom consist in taking a reasonable thought for the morrow; and that in nothing so much should we take anxious thought for the morrow as when appealed to for alms or to assist the needy.

Better that they suffer hunger to-day and be made self-respecting and self-supporting to-morrow, than that they be fed to-day and then be forgotten to-morrow. We best help others by securing them full justice, and by refraining from injuring them either through malice or through giving them that for which they return no equivalent.