The Power of Choice

Think how we come into the world, what an important thing it is to each of us and to the world, and yet how fortuitous and haphazard it all is, and what precautions are often taken to prevent our coming!

See the deformed, the half-witted, the lowbrowed, the degenerate, that come. The great army of the common, the few capable of higher and finer things. Nature apparently finds her account in one class the same as in the other, in Pat as well as in Paul, in the inferior races as well as in the higher.

In our manufacturing affairs we aim to turn out the best article possible-the best shoe, the best hat, the best gun, the best book; but Nature makes no such effort in the case of man, though she does in the case of the lower orders. Probably every individual bird or bug or four-footed beast in a state of nature is perfect of its kind, that is, suited to its place in the scheme of organic life. But how different with man! It is the price he pays for his freedom, his power of choice. The birds and the beasts have no power of choice, they are entirely in the hands of Nature. They are all moulded to one pattern.

The advantage that comes to man from his power of choice is greater variation, hence greater progress. He crosses or reverses or turns aside the laws of Nature, or bends them to his will, and for this privilege he pays the price of idiocy, deformity, and the vast mass of commonplace humanity. His gain is now and then men of exceptional ability, geniuses, who lead the race forward. We know that every improved breed of chicken or sheep or swine will come true. Cultivated fruit relapses in the seed, and cultivated persons often do the same.

On the other hand, rude and ordinary humanity now and then far transcends itself in its offspring, just as the new and choice apple or peach or plum has its humble origin in a seedling.

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