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If the men who were crucifying Jesus could have been suddenly stopped at the last moment, and if they could have been kept perfectly still for ten minutes and could have thought about it, some of them would have refused to go on with the crucifixion when the ten minutes were over.  If they could have been stopped for twenty minutes, there would have been still more of them who would have refused to have gone on with it.  They would have stolen away and wondered about The Man in their hearts.  There were others who were there who would have needed twenty days of being still and of thinking.  There were some who would have had to have twenty years to see what they really wanted, in all the circumstances, to do.

People crucified Christ because they were in a hurry.

They did what they wanted to do at the moment.  So far as we know, there were only two men who did what they would have wished they had done in twenty years:  there was the thief on the other cross, who showed The Man he knew who He was; and there was the disciple John, who kept as close as he could.  John perhaps was thinking of the past-of all the things that Christ had said to him; and the man on the other cross was thinking what was going to happen next.  The other people who had to do with the crucifixion were all thinking about the thing they were doing at the moment and the way they felt about it.  But the Man was Thinking, not of His suffering, but of the men in front of Him, and of what they could be thinking about, and what they would be thinking about afterward-in ten minutes, in twenty minutes, in twenty days, or in twenty years; and suddenly His heart was flooded with pity at what they would be thinking about afterward, and in the midst of the pain in His arms and the pain in His feet He made that great cry to Heaven:  “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do!”

It is because Christians have never quite believed that The Man really meant this when He said it that they have persecuted the Jews for two thousand years.  It is because they do not believe it now that they blame Mr. Rockefeller for doing what most of them twenty years ago would have done themselves.  It was one of the hardest things to do and say that any one ever said in the world, and it was said at the hardest possible time to say it.  It was strange that one almost swooning with pain should have said the gentlest-hearted and truest thing about human nature that has ever been said since the world began.  It has seemed to me the most literal, and perhaps the most practical, truth that has been said since the world began.

It goes straight to the point about people.  It gives one one’s definition of goodness both for one’s self and for others.  It gives one a program for action.

Except in our more joyous and free moments, we assume that when people do us a wrong, they know what they are about.  They look at the right thing to do and they look at the wrong one, and they choose the wrong one because they like it better.  Nine people out of ten one meets in the streets coming out of church on Sunday morning, if one asked them the question plainly, “Do you ever do wrong when you know it is wrong?” would say that they did.  If you ask them what a sin is, they will tell you that it is something you do when you know you ought not to do it.

But The Man Himself, in speaking of the most colossal sin that has ever been committed, seemed to think that when men committed a sin, it was because they did not really see what it was that they were doing.  They did what they wanted to do at the moment.  They did not do what they would have wished they had done in twenty years.

I would define goodness as doing what one would wish one had done in twenty years-twenty years, twenty days, twenty minutes, or twenty seconds, according to the time the action takes to get ripe.

It would be far more true and more to the point instead of scolding or admiring Mr. Rockefeller’s skilled labour at getting too rich, to point out mildly that he has done something that in the long-run he would not have wanted to do; that he has lacked the social imagination for a great permanently successful business.  His sin has consisted in his not taking pains to act accurately and permanently, in his not concentrating his mind and finding out what he really wanted to do.  It would seem to be better and truer and more accurate in the tremendous crisis of our modern life to judge Mr. Rockefeller, not as monster of wickedness, but merely as an inefficient, morally underwitted man.  There are things that he has not thought of that every one else has.

We see that in all those qualities that really go to make a great business house in a great nation John D. Rockefeller stands as the most colossal failure as yet that our American business life has produced.  To point his incompetence out quietly and calmly and without scolding would seem to be the only fair way to deal with Mr. Rockefeller.  He merely has not done what he would have wished he had done in twenty, well, possibly two hundred years, or as long a time as it would be necessary to allow for Mr. Rockefeller to see.  The one thing that the world could accept gracefully from Mr. Rockefeller now would be the establishment of a great endowment of research and education to help other people to see in time how they can keep from being like him.  If Mr. Rockefeller leads in this great work and sees it soon enough, perhaps he will stop suddenly being the world’s most lonely man.

Many men have been lonely before in the presence of a few fellow human beings; but to be lonely with a whole nation-eighty million people; to feel a whole human race standing there outside of your life and softly wondering about you, staring at you in the showcase of your money, peering in as out of a thousand newspapers upon you as a kind of moral curiosity under glass, studying you as the man who has performed the most athletic feat of not seeing what he was really doing and how he really looked in all the world-this has been Mr. Rockefeller’s experience.  He has not done what he would wish he had done in twenty years.

Goodness may be defined as getting one’s own attention, as boning down to find the best and most efficient way of finding out what one wants to do.  Any man who will make adequate arrangements with himself at suitable times for getting his own attention will be good.  Any one else from outside who can make such arrangements for him, such arrangements of expression or-of advertising goodness as to get his attention, will make him good.