Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way.
(William Wordsworth)

IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE A PERSON WHO CREATES CONTINUITY. For every evil thing in the world that ought to be ended, I believe there are also good things that need to be continued, and it usually takes work on somebody’s part for that continuity to be achieved. One generation does not pass down its heritage to the next without effort and sacrifice. Those who exert the effort and make the sacrifice, thereby ensuring that the best things in life continue, are to be honored, and each of us would do well to place ourselves in their number.

To be a person who helps create continuity doesn’t mean we are opposed to change. There is no question that change is sometimes beneficial. By definition, progress requires change. But the more our lives are characterized by change, the more essential it is for some things to continue. We could not long keep our sanity if everything changed so completely that no day ever had anything in common with the day that preceded it. There have to be some links between yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Some things in our lives must hold steady. We need, then, to have the wisdom to see what those things are — and to lend a helping hand in the honorable work of preserving them.

At the personal level, there are some things about ourselves that need to continue, and one of the best kinds of personal continuity is steadfastness, which means “continuing to try.” That kind of continuity comes from a choice or determination. “Strength is the lot of but a few privileged men; but austere perseverance, harsh and continuous, may be employed by the smallest of us and rarely fails in its purpose. Its silent power grows irresistibly greater with time” (Goethe).

Without continuity, we can’t have any real goodness of character. The person who is up and down and all around, never carrying any of his good deeds over from one day to the next, is not a person who can be counted on. Virtuous character, which is the only kind we ought to be interested in having, requires that we do some things . . . and do them again the next day . . . and keep on doing them every day as long as we live. Continuity is what makes us count-on-able.

“Character is simply habit long continued” (Plutarch).

Gary Henry — +

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