"Help the other fellow" is one of the suggestive mottoes in a western factory. It would be a good motto for all of us. Nothing will do more to lighten your own burden than helping the other fellow to bear his.
It was love, the divine burden bearer, that enabled a poor apple-woman to do such service for others as should make those of us who grumble about the hard task of making a living blush for our self-absorption. Telling about her work in "The Investment of Influence," Dr. Newell Dwight Hillis says:
"Working among the poor of London an English author searched out the life-career of an apple-woman. Her story makes the story of kings and queens contemptible. Events had appointed her to poverty, hunger, cold and two rooms in a tenement. But there were three orphan boys sleeping in an ash-box, whose lot was harder. She dedicated her heart and life to the little waifs. During two and forty years she mothered and reared some twenty orphans - gave them home and bed and food; taught them all she knew; helped some to obtain a scant knowledge of the trades; helped others off to Canada and America. The author says she had misshapen features, but that an exquisite smile was on the dead face. It must have been so. She 'had a beautiful soul,' as Emerson said of Longfellow. Her life was a sweet episode in London's history. Social reform has felt her influence. Like a broken vase, the perfume of her being will sweeten literature and society a thousand years after we are gone."
Oh, marvelous power of love that lightens all heavy burdens and smooths all rough roads! What would become of humanity were it not for love, which sweetens the hardest labor and makes self-sacrifice a joy? Without its transforming power we should still be primitive barbarians.
Love is the greatest tonic to the muscles and to all the faculties. Luther Burbank told me when I visited him at his great horticultural farm in California that he would not employ men who did not love flowers and enjoy caring for them, because he said if they did not, the flowers felt their antagonism and would not thrive with them as they did with people who loved them. Love of your work will enlarge your life and increase your ability. Joy in one's tasks is what sunshine is to the fruits and flowers. A person can do much more and better work where his heart is than where it is not.
What mothers endure for many years for their children would kill or drive them to an insane asylum but for love. This takes the drudgery out of service and lightens all burdens. It is love alone that enables the poor mother to go through terrible experiences in her struggles with poverty and sickness to rear her children. Love takes the sting out of poverty, the pain out of sacrifice. There is nothing too hard, too disagreeable or repulsive to human nature for a mother to do for her children. She will toil and perspire all day, and then rob herself of sleep and rest, walking the floor night after night with a sick child. These services she will perform for weeks and perhaps months at a time, even when she may be ill enough to be in bed herself. In fact, there is no service which it is possible for one human being to render another which the loving mother will not perform for her child.
The same thing is true of the loving father, though his burden in the nature of things is rarely as heavy as the mother's. But he is often virtually a slave for half a lifetime or more for those he loves. If he is a real man, however, he does not complain. Love lightens the burden and cheers the way for the real man, as it does for the real woman. Where the heart is, there the burden is light.
Obedience to the divine injunction, "Bear ye one another's burdens," is the surest way of making one's own life rich and beautiful. It was this that made Lincoln the best loved man in America. He was loved in his lifetime, and is loved to-day as perhaps no other man on this continent was ever loved, because of his kindly disposition and rare spirit of helpfulness. His spontaneous desire to help everybody, and especially to return a kindness, endeared him to all who knew him. His desire to help the burden bearers, in youth as in later life, amounted to a passion. He chopped wood for the poor widows in his neighborhood, helped those who were out of work, ran errands, did chores for people, and in fact was known as "the man who helped everybody."
Herndon, his law partner said: "When the Rutledge Tavern, where Lincoln boarded, was crowded, Lincoln would often give up his bed, and sleep on the counter in his store with a roll of calico for his pillow. Somehow everybody in trouble turned to Lincoln for help." One day, while practising law in Springfield, Lincoln was passing a neighbor's house, when he saw a little girl standing at the gate with her hat and gloves on, sobbing as if her heart would break.
"It was the first time I had ever seen Mr. Lincoln," she said in telling the story to a friend some years afterward, when the Springfield lawyer had become President of the United States. "I was going with a little friend for my first trip alone on the railroad cars. It was an epoch in my life. I had planned for it and dreamed of it for weeks. The day came, but, as the hour of departure approached, the hackman failed to call for my trunk. As the minutes passed, I realized with grief that I should miss the train. I was standing at the gate, crying, when Mr. Lincoln came along."
"'Why, what's the matter?' he asked.
"'The hackman has not come to get my trunk,' I replied.
"'How big is the trunk?' he asked. 'There's time enough if it isn't too big.' He pushed through the gate, and my mother took him up to my room, where my little old-fashioned trunk was waiting.
"'Oh, ho!' he cried, 'wipe your eyes and come on, quick.' Before I knew what he was going to do, he had shouldered the trunk, and was downstairs and striding out of the yard. Down the street he went, as fast as his long legs could carry him, I trotting behind, drying my eyes as I went. We reached the station in time. Mr. Lincoln put me on the train, kissed me good-by, and told me to have a good time."
Whether it was a little child in distress, or a mother pleading for the life of her boy, this great loving soul was always ready to lighten their load, to help others carry their burden. A candle loses nothing by giving its light to light another's candle which has gone out. We never lose anything by a kindly deed, by giving a helping hand to a brother wayfarer. On the contrary, whatever your vocation, you will find that if you go through life as a helper, a lifter, an encourager, if you give any little help or encouragement from day to day to the burden-bearers, to those who are less fortunate than yourself, you will be richer and not poorer for it. The habit of being kind, of helping others, will not only cause you infinite satisfaction, but it will actually increase your ability because it will make you happier, and whatever makes you really happy increases your ability and efficiency. Whenever we lose an opportunity to be helpful we lose the blessing and the joy which attends service to others.
"Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love," says Drummond. "Lavish it upon the poor, where it is very easy; especially upon the rich, who often need it most, most of all upon our equals, where it is very difficult, and for whom perhaps we each do least of all."
Governor Andrews, the famous war gov ernor of Massachusetts, was called the "Wide Liker," by the colored people who loved him because of his love and sympathy for them. Everybody who knew him loved him. They couldn't help it, because he had a great sympathetic, kindly heart; and, after all, it is the heart qualities that count. Governor Andrews had a great, wise head, but the poor, colored people did not understand much about that. They did understand and appreciate a great kind heart, and when their friend, the Governor, was buried, many poor, old, ragged colored men and women walked beside his coffin the whole five miles from Boston to Mount Auburn.
There is one thing that is infinitely more desirable than wealth or fame or any other earthly thing, and that is the good opinion of your fellow men. The reputation of being kindly, of being helpful, of always being ready to give a lift to the unfortunate, is worth more than any amount of money, because it means a life of service, and the satisfaction which comes from such a life is greater than any fortune can give.
The son of a poor country clergyman who had such a reputation, when asked one day what his father was doing, said: "I don't know what he is doing, but I know he is helping somebody somewhere!" I know people like this clergyman who are poor in worldly possessions, but who have always been helpers, boosters of others. They are always ready to lend a hand, to help a neighbor or to give to anyone in distress.
There is none so poor that he cannot give in some way, and it is a heartless, soul-destroying thing to go through the world thinking only of self, trying to get every possible advantage for oneself, always looking out for the main chance. This kills the best thing in human nature, blights the finer sentiments, and shrivels all the qualities that win love and friendship.
I would rather be a helper, a lifter of human beings; would rather have the satisfaction of giving others a lift, of encouraging those who are down-and-out, of lending a hand in time of need to those who have been unfortunate, and yet be poor, than have the wealth of a Croesus and a starved, pinched, loveless life therewith.