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ebook SIN AND SOCIETY by Theodore Roosevelt

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SIN AND SOCIETY by Theodore Roosevelt

Comments of a leader

Theodore Roosevelt writes, “Nowadays the water main is my
well, the trolley car my carriage, the banker’s safe my old stocking,
the policeman’s billy my fist.My own eyes and nose and judgment
defer to the inspector of food, or drugs, or gas, or factories, or tenements,
or insurance companies. I rely upon others to look after
my drains, invest my savings, nurse my sick, and teach my children.
I let the meat trust butcher my pig, the oil trust mould my
candles, the sugar trust boil my sorghum, the coal trust chop my
wood, the barb wire company split my rails.” The vast change
from an agrarian society to a complex industrial one opened the
gates for new and reprehensible crimes and sins. Roosevelt looks
at the person who would sell us fake life jackets.

paperback book

This book deals with sin, but it does not entreat the sinner to mend his
ways. It seeks to influence no one in his conduct. It does seek to influence
men in their attitude toward the conduct of others. Its exhortation is not
Be good, but Be rational. To modify conduct one touches the heart. To
modify the judgments on conduct one speaks to the intellect. The latter
is the method of this book. Its aim is to enlighten rather than to move.
In praising or blaming each of us exerts a power over his fellows.When
the praises or blames of many men run together, they become a torrent
no one can withstand.Why let this moral power run to waste? Why not
use this public opinion to protect our dearest possessions?
In its reactions against wrong-doing the public is childishly naïve and
sentimental. It is content with the surface look of things. It lays emphasis
where emphasis was laid centuries ago. It beholds sin in a false
perspective, seeing peccadillos as crimes, and crimes as peccadillos. It
never occurs to the public that sin evolves along with society, and that the
perspective in which it is necessary to view misconduct changes from age
to age. Hence, in to-day’s warfare on sin, the reactions of the public are
about as serviceable as gongs and stink-pots in a modern battle.
Rationalize public opinion; modernize it and bring it abreast of latter-day
sin; make the blame of the many into a flaming sword guarding the
sacred interests of society—such is the lesson this little book seeks to
Edward Alsworth Ross.
Madison,Wis., September, 1907.

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