Reading a recent post on Stavros’s blog, My Greek Odyssey, I was reminded of the description I’ve included below, of the way before us in life. It took me a while to remember where I’d read it, and to find the book, and then the passage, and then type it up.  I’d like to be able to find it more easily next time.  I’d hate to lose it.

 

“Our capacity to choose changes constantly with our practice of life.  The longer we continue to make the wrong decisions, the more our heart hardens; the more often we make the right decision, the more our heart softens – or better perhaps, comes alive … Each step in life which increases my self-confidence, my integrity, my courage, my conviction also increases my capacity to choose the desirable alternative, until eventually it becomes more difficult for me to choose the undesirable rather than the desirable action.  On the other hand, each act of surrender and cowardice weakens me, opens the path for more acts of surrender, and eventually freedom is lost.  Between the extreme when I can no longer do a wrong act and the extreme when I have lost my freedom to right action, there are innumerable degrees of freedom of choice.  In the practice of life the degree of freedom to choose is different at any given moment.  If the degree of freedom to choose the good is great, it needs less effort to choose the good.  If it is small, it takes a great effort, help from others, and favourable circumstances … Most people fail in the art of living not because they are inherently bad or so without will that they cannot lead a better life; they fail because they do not wake up and see when they stand at a fork in the road and have to decide.  They are not aware when life asks them a question, and when they still have alternative answers.  Then with each step along the wrong road it becomes increasingly difficult for them to admit that they must go back to the first wrong turn, and must accept the fact that they have wasted energy and time.”

 

 

It’s by Eric Fromm, in The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil, from pages 173-178, but I read it in M. Scott Peck’s book, People of the Lie; The Hope for Healing Human Evil, where it appears at p91.

 

 

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