Mr. Yankus moved to Australia from Michigan in protest against government intervention in agriculture, but knows that it is not a sufficient purpose for his life.
In any specific community during any specific period of time, the weather, the water supply, the schools, the customs, the language, the government, and various other environmental factors are nearly identical for all persons. In such similar influences and surroundings it would be reasonable to expect the lives of the people to be as similar as sardines. But they are not. It is easy to observe that the lives of some men and women are marred by hatred, scorn, envy, fights, and even murder while others live quiet, respectful, honorable, peaceful lives in the same vicinity.
This startling contrast makes it evident that some individuals are able to achieve a high degree of self-improvement while others have little success.
The men and women who usually fail in their self-improvement see no rhyme or reason in the events that take place in their lives. As they see it, life is a series of gambles. If something goes wrong, it was an accident; if something turns out all right, it was pure luck.
Those who are successful in their self-improvement have learned that opportunities are a product of cause and effect — chance plays no part. Favorable opportunities are produced by the use of good methods and hard work.
Cause and effect run through the entire gamut of human experiences, from one’s smallest pleasure to his biggest problem. In order to find the happiness we seek in life, it is beneficial to understand the role of cause and effect. It is my purpose to examine the relationship between cause and effect, self-improvement and freedom. Let me begin with these two premises: (1) Cause and effect operate in the universe. (2) Self-improvement is the most effective means of creating freedom.
A farmer near Crystal Brook, South Australia said, "I will pay a reward of two dollars to anyone who can tell me something that happened without a cause." The reward money attracted many wild guesses from people who were eager to get an easy dollar from this farmer. But none of the answers were valid.
After some thought, most people will concede that everything has a cause, but the thought of having to accept responsibility for all of their troubles produces fear. So the concession is hedged: "Yes, but I am not in complete control of all the causes that produce troubles in my life. It is not my fault that other people injure me, lie to me, and cheat me in various ways. Furthermore, my freedom is curtailed by a socialistic government over which I have no control."
Put Yourself in Charge
Assume for a moment that you were in charge of the planet, Earth, and it was up to you to arrange the scheme of things. No doubt, you would want to arrange the affairs of this world so no one could write you a letter of complaint. The only way you could avoid all complaints is by establishing perfect justice. What is justice except to give to each person exactly what he deserves? The means of accomplishing justice would be to have cause and effect operate in all things: good for good, bad for bad, no work —no pay. In spite of appearances to the contrary, that is how I perceive the world to be arranged. Our perception of how the world is arranged is very important because almost all of our actions relate to it.
One of my good friends believes that all diseases are caused by harmful living habits and wrong eating instead of contagious germs. To prove his belief in cause and effect to an acquaintance, he said: "Do you think that God gets up in the morning yawning, stretching and saying, ‘Gee whiz, I slept badly last night and I am not in a good mood this morning. So I think I will show the people on earth some of my mighty power. I’ll give Jack diabetes, I’ll give Tom polio, I’ll give Robert rheumatism, I’ll give Henry a heart attack, and I’ll give Sam cancer.’ Or do you think that God established perfect laws of cause and effect which work unfailingly and justly at all times and to all people on this earth?" Without hesitation, the acquaintance decided that cause and effect operated in the universe. The Bible explains cause and effect in this way: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7)
Freedom Not for Sale
Do you really want freedom? Your sincere and eager reply may be, "Yes, of course. Give it to me." But is that possible? Let us investigate the means of getting any and every fragment of self-improvement we possess. Suppose you want to learn how to speak a foreign language, or learn how to build a modern home, or learn how to repair a radio, or learn any other skill. Can you go into a retail store and buy these skills for a thousand dollars, or can your parents or anyone else who loves you give these skills to you as a gift, or can the senators and representatives in government enrich your life with these skills by passing laws, or could you side-step all the hard work and steal these skills on some dark night? Of course, you cannot.
Isn’t it magnificent the way the Creator arranged the scheme of things so no one could cheat on his or her self-improvement! You get nothing for nothing; you only get exactly what you deserve as a reward for your personal effort. This is proof that cause and effect operate in the acquisition of all self-improvement. And since freedom is obtained by self-improvement, it becomes clear that freedom has to be earned by each individual who wants freedom. Let it be emphasized that freedom is an individual affair in self-improvement which can begin right now. Those who wait until the next election to increase freedom, wait in vain. It is a vain hope to believe that freedom can be established in a nation by benevolent statesmen for the perpetual enjoyment of all. If that were possible, it would already have been done a long time ago.
Freedom has never been obtained by the use of an excuse. Many individuals will admit the importance of freedom but they use this excuse: "It is a full time job for me to support my family. I haven’t got the time or energy to worry about freedom." Fair enough. However, these individuals do admit they have enough time to earn a living. If each family practiced the virtue of self-improvement by being self-supporting, it would free more slaves than the Civil War between the States. What is more, no war would have to be fought. To find out who the slaves are, let us trace cause and effect. When a farmer or anyone else accepts government subsidies, medical aid, welfare, or whatever, he causes a taxpayer to earn part of his living for him. The effect of forcing a taxpayer to work without compensation is slavery by taxation.
The Pain of Slavery
There are many men and women who believe that the socialistic idea of slavery by taxation is the ideal arrangement. How can we tell who is right? The answer is revealed by cause and effect. The effect of harmful causes is painful. A Spanish proverb says: "God comes to us without a bell." Pain is the silent language used by Creation to tell us we are acting wrongly. There can be no dispute that slavery is a painful arrangement; consequently, the socialistic idea of slavery by taxation is not in harmony with Nature’s laws.
Time and time again men have turned to government to secure their safety and protection by passing laws. Recently the government of South Australia passed a law to protect car drivers from being killed. The law requires car drivers to wear seat belts; but since the law has been in effect, the number of deaths due to car crashes has increased. The government Minister of Transport is sincerely puzzled why the law failed to achieve its objective.
Never before in the history of the world have there been more laws in effect than at present. As more and more government laws are enacted each year, it would be logical to expect the government protection to get better. Instead, the daily newspapers report the sad stories of an increasing number of individuals who are being harmed and killed.
The government laws have failed to furnish protection because almost all of these laws fail to harmonize with Nature’s laws. In any contest for supremacy, Nature’s laws of cause and effect will always prevail over government laws.
After school hours, I delivered newspapers to earn some money when I was a boy in Chicago. One cold winter day when it was snowing, three older boys knocked me down in the snow and stole the money I had collected from my newspaper customers. This bitter experience taught me to take more precautions for my safety. Actually, no one else is as deeply concerned with your protection as you are. You have everything to gain by making protection a do-it-yourself project because the only genuine protection you have in this world is self-improvement. Once you grasp the fact that bad effects are never produced by good causes, the secret of obtaining protection is yours. The good that you do will return to you like an Australian boomerang.
Each Experiences the Consequences of His Actions
Cause and effect operate in the universe — what does that actually mean? It means that everything that goes wrong in my life is my own fault. It means that every complaint I have made against others is my fault. Accepting such a heavy burden of faults is not as terrible as it seems. It is really beneficial. If the faults were all caused by other people, my safety and protection would be out of my control. Since the faults are mine, I have the wonderful opportunity of practicing every virtue I can think of to increase my self-improvement. "And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" (I Peter 3:13)
The men and women who pursue the ideas of freedom enthusiastically are often hampered and frustrated by all sorts of socialistic controls. Under such conditions it is easy to develop an intense hatred toward socialists in order to "get even" with them. However, hatred is a harmful indulgence because it destroys self-improvement. Since freedom and self-improvement go hand in hand, freeing ourselves of hatred increases our freedom — we are not tied to our enemies.
Here is my homemade recipe forgetting rid of hatred: Whenever someone harms us in some way and we are incapable of punishing the offender, we react to the injustice by hating the offender. Hatred is a vote of "no confidence" in Creation. The invisible forces in the universe which are capable of spinning the stars and planets through space are also capable of seeing that justice is done through cause and effect. Our help is not needed by Creation in this particular task, even though it may hurt our vanity to have our aid rejected. All that is required of us to get rid of hatred is the understanding that cause and effect are at work in every human situation — nothing is forgotten, nothing is forgiven, nothing is concealed.
If you are very skeptical and you want convincing proof that cause and effect will punish the socialistic offenders for their errors, try this experiment at your own risk. Insult the first ten people you meet today. Now that you have produced ten causes — ten angry people — make a brave attempt to escape the effects. Cause and effect always gets its man! You won’t be able to escape the penalty for your misdeeds; neither will the socialists be able to escape the punishment they deserve. Your hatred will be totally unnecessary.