Vol.XVI No.III Pg.6
May 1979

Half Of A Virtue

Robert F. Turner

More from "Wit and Wisdom of Safed the Sage," by William E. Barton; Pilgrim Press, Chicago, 1919.


There came unto me a man who said, Thou art a man of Blood. For when the War was on, thou verily didst pray for the Armies and the Navies. Thy sons did go to War and thou didst wear a Service Pin with Three or Four Stars. The Blood of men is upon thy hands. And with many like words did he speak unto me.

And I said unto him, I like not a man who is Lukewarm, but one who is Hot or Cold. And he said, There is nothing Lukewarm about me. And I answered, Thou hast well said, Nevertheless, we live in a world wherein Extremes Meet, and the Mean Result of Two Extremes of Hot and Cold is Luke warm. And a Freeze is one with a Scald. And he said, I know not what thou art talking about.

And I said, Thou art a Pacifist, but thou art a Vindictive Fighter, and thy Pacifism doth Camouflage thy Militarism. In this world of Extremes I have known lecturers on Personal Purity to be run into court by the Cop for doing the things they lecture against; and I have seen Temperance Lecturers take the Keeley Cure, and I behold Pacifists smelling the Battle afar and hitting every head in sight. Thus do men take into their own systems the very evils which they oppose. Thou dost Skim the Pot and Lick the Ladle.

And I said unto him, I am a man of Peace, who will have peace though he fight for it. Thou art a man of Strife, and will have war though thou become a Pacifist to obtain it.

Moreover I said, It grieveth me to the heart that in this world children of the same God do fight and devour one another, and I have no ill words for any lover of peace. But let the lover of peace pursue peace, and let him not with his tongue stir up strife which other men must settle with the sword.


It was winter, and at Time of Snow; and some men Cleaned their Walks, and some did not. And one man who always cleaned his walk seemed to boast and vaunt himself against his neighbor. But water from the snow had run down upon his walk, and Frozen, so that it was like Glass. And I did very nearly break my Neck in that place.

And this man spake ill concerning his neighbor. And he said, They have no Public Spirit, neither do they clean their walks; but Behold, my walk is clean.

And I said, Yea, it is clean, and it is the most Dangerous Walk in town. And he said, Dost thou reprove me for doing my duty, and dost thou make a virtue of those who Lie in Bed while I shovel my walks?

And I said, He who cleaneth his walk so that it is slippery, should sprinkle it with sand. I praise them not, neither do I think them virtuous. But there is no Vice like the half of a Virtue, nor any sin like a Duty half done. Selah!