In a land in our time there lived a man, who read a book and found lots of wonderful stories therein. There were true and invented stories, experienced and pensive, enjoyable and painful stories. There were stories which contained stories, and such which were actually not stories. For every story he read, there occurred to him nearly five which he had either experienced or thought up himself. So the thought came to him, that a lot in the world was a story which could be healing for himself and others; he only needed to absorb the healing stories well and to forget the terrible ones immediately. Then he would learn which story he had used when and for what. So he organised his own stories which he knew, and which had become a help to himself and others, or could become so. Sometimes he noted it down when a new story came to his ears and sometimes when a helpful story occurred to him, he memorised it.
Then he saw before him in a picture the storystories of this life arranged in long shelves, as in a large pharmacy. And behind the counter there sat a man who had learnt to listen to himself and others. He was a master of his subjectspecialty. His talent was that he understood how to tell the right thing at the right time to himself and to those who visited him.
In China there lived a man who had caught the wind in a preserving jar. To all visitors he said: “I’ve got him. He’s in there.” Many came and left again, shaking their heads. They had not felt any fresh wind. Some asked him: “What are you going to do with the empty jar?”
And he explained with pride: “When I need wind, I simply open the jar and immediately a cool breeze goes through the room. For example, when I receive guests in my attic apartment in the summer: ’Oof, it’s hot in here’, they groan, and I say ‘Just a moment, that’ll be solved right away’. One flick of the wrist – and a fresh breeze goes through the room. Or if something burns while cooking, with one jar of wind, all smells are quickly swept away.” Several said: “Then open the jar!”
But he answered: “For God’s sake! Then all the wind will be gone. And what should I then do with the jar?” The man kept the windows closed so that no stray puff of wind could blow the jar over and knock it to the ground. After his death, they opened the jar.
There was nothing in it other than stale air. They opened the windows. For the first time, a breath of fresh air blew through the room.
Do you also find that there are too many unhappy people in the world? Then I would like to tell you a story related to this.. In a large town, there lived a man who had a special trait. He could not bear to see people in misery. Perhaps that would not be worth mentioning, since there are many people who see themselves in this situation these days. But this man had a second trait. He had done everything he could to relieve the misery of the poorest people. He had, together with his friends and later co-fighters, helped hundreds of thousands to lead a worthy life.
The man asked himself: Why are some people so successful, when killing and destruction are concerned? Why do armies work more effectively than churches and many social organisations? And he decided to create his own army; a strict organisation with officers and soldiers, with flags and uniform. An army for peace. The war aim of this army was, so it was said, “to save at all cost the population of the slums which is threatened to go under in a sea of debauchery, alcoholism and vice”. That certainly did not please many pub landlords and pimps. The “soldiers” of the Salvation Army were attacked and often wounded; three of them were even killed. Gradually the persecution stopped. The Salvation Army remained in existence and continued to work against prostitution and pimping, homelessness, and the consequences of war, according to their Christian conviction. Their position was: “We want peace. There are enough calls for peace, but the evil in the world does not react to well-intentioned appeals. Conflict, strife, fear and desperation cannot be fought with admonitions, they demand a true fight!”
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