Basic Law of Life
LOADSTONE of SUCCESS
By B. Carroll Reece, V. S. Congressman from Tennessee
Thi* address was delivered at commeneement exercises, Elizabethteen High School, Elizabeth-
Ion. Tennessee. In the- authors words it is concerned with -a basic [act nf life- that during tin-
last few decades has almost heen kept a secret from America's young people—the principle of
behavior that insures a happy and prosperous life."
Hr.KY. is llie basic law of life I want to
tell you about: happiness and success come from conscientious discharge
I cannot tell you precisely why this
is true regarding happiness because the
reason lies locked up in the mysteries
of human nature.
But I think I can partially prove it
to you from your own experience: Is
it not true that the most happy memories you have are recollections of unpleasant and difficult situations which
you were, through your own power,
able to overcome?
Can you remember with any pleasure
the unpleasant situations where all you
did was sidestep your responsibility?
Doing one's duty is almost never easy.
In fail, in the beginning, it is almost
The capacity to discharge duty must
be made into a habit, and as you know,
all human habits—good or bad—are
acquired by simply repeating the same
actions until they become second nature.
This automatic response to duty is
not an easy habit to acquire because
each of us is two different persons—the
first being the person who wants to take
the easy way out. and (he second being
the person who knows instinctively that,
in the long run. there is no easy way.
You have to learn to conquer that
first person, and every lime you whip
him, the next time becomes easier.
REWARDS OF DEVOTION TO DUTY
If this sounds bleak and forbidding,
let me tell you a few of the rewards that
come from devotion to duty.
Your first reward is your good opinion
of yourself: you will feel belter, think
better, and act with confidence and courage while other men are hesitant and
The evasion of duty will make a
coward of any man because without
realizing it he destroys his most precious asset—his respect for himself.
Your second reward for devotion to
duty is the good opinion of other peo-
pie—at least the people whose opinion
Your third reward is the friendship
of the people you admire—and, as you
will find out (if you have not already
done so), friends are the most precious
possessions of life.
Your fourth reward is economie security.
I do not know a single healthy person devoted to the conscientious discharge of duty that is not successful in
his economic life.
Brilliancy and talent do not have
as much to do with business success as
devotion to duty.
In most walks of life, dependability
of performance, is more highly rewarded
than erratic brilliancy of performance,
lor the simple reason that dependability
is harder to find.
It is true that a person's mental abilities may put a ceiling on his economic
rewards, but if he is dependable that
ceiling is not going to be very low and
lhe man is not going to be unsuccessful.
BASIC DUTIES DEFINED
What kind of duties are there?
First, there are the duties we* aue
to ourselves — to maintain clean and
healthy minds and bodies; to safeguard
our personal reputations through proper
conduct; to develop our minds to the
best of our ability, along the lines to
which they are best suited.
These things we must do for our own
Second, there are the duties we owe
to those who love us and depend upon
us—our mothers, fathers, husbands,
wives, children, and close friends.
This is of tremendous importance for
one simple reason—it is only by giving
of ourselves that we receive the same
considerations from others.
Third, there are the duties we owe
to the people we work for and with.
Any business or professional enterprise is fundamentally a partnership
proposition—we succeed not at the ex
pense of other people but with other
It is every person's duty to give his
organization an honest day's work; to
give his co-workers complete cooperation: to give the people who may work
under him,a full measure of help and
There is one thing you must never
fear—the results of helping everyone
around you; in the long run, you will
be repaid many times over.
This brings me to another type of
duty — the type that I should know
thoroughly because most of my life
has been spent in public service.
This is the duty each of us owes to
This duty consists of much more than
me re- devotion to the flag and the willingness to bear arms in its defense.
It involves an understanding of what
America is, how it got that way, and
how it can stay that way.
I realize that this kind of talk mav be
considered old-fashioned sentimentalism
beeause the fundamental idea of Americans defending the American way of
life has, during the last twenty years,
been placed under a cloud of suspicion.
It has been smeared with the dirt of
such phrases as super-patriotism, isolation isin. nationalism, and even Fascism.
It has been portrayed as an expression of selfishness that endangers the
future of the free world and even the
future of America.
All this is bald-faced nonsense.
In fact, the truth lies in the opposite
direction: lhe hope of a better world
lies ii] an America whose traditions, institutions, and ways of life are loved
and defended by its people.
Let's see why this is true.
We all know that people improve primarily by observing and copying the
behavior of people who are more successful and happy.
They see a good example and follow
America stands alone as an example
of the high level of human happiness,
prosperity, and mutual security that
can be achieved by free men working
in their own interests within the frame-
work of a system of privately-owned
tools of production used competitively,
without monopoly, without special favor, and without special privilege, other
than that earned by personal achieve
Our institutions, based upon our constitution, are the foundation of this
Our individual prosperity and our
magnificently developed economy reflect freedom's magical effects upon human nature.
Our way of life is rooted in tin- l)i
vine intention that every man is meant
FACTS FORUM NEWS, October, 1955