On Sticking Your Neck Out

On Sticking Your Neck Out

Human beings are much like turtles. The only we get ahead is by sticking our necks out.

Poor old turtle! Nature certainly put him on the spot. If he wants to go anywhere, he must put himself in a vulnerable position. With his head tucked under his shell, few natural enemies can harm him. But the moment he wants to move—what an exposed situation he's in!

Truly the human race has progressed on the backs of men who stuck their necks out! Try to find a single exception. You'll look hard and long in your history books.

You've heard the expression, "Don't stick your neck out." In other words, don't do or say anything different from what other people do or say. Otherwise you'll get into trouble.

Galileo dared proclaim the world round and the earth not the center of the universe, as always believed and taught before his time. For this bold statement he faced death.

Only a century ago men believed most sicknesses were caused by bad air, wicked vapors, or demons, and a thousand-and-one other silly reasons. Then a French chemist, Louis Pasteur, looking through a microscope, decided that tiny plants and animals, which we now call "germs," caused certain diseases. All the French doctors called him crazy. He stuck by his statements. Later he was proved right, of course. But, meanwhile, sticking his neck out against all the learned physicians of France was not very easy. Because he did, we have modern medicine, not magic.

Abraham Lincoln was advised by his political friends not to defy human slavery and make it a campaign issue against Stephen A. Douglas when they were competing for the United States Senate. Lincoln disregarded their advice and followed his own conscience. He stuck his neck out.

Yes, he was defeated in the Senate race. But his bold offensive against slavery caught the nation's eye. Here was a man not afraid to state his convictions! Our country made him president. Later, as president, he abolished slavery.

The Old Testament prophets were men who stuck their necks out. Amos, Hosea, Micah, Jeremiah, and the rest. Whatever was evil they denounced. They even called the whole nation of Israel wicked and got away with it.

In every field of human endeavor—religion, science, education, business, or government—advances are made by men who stick their necks out. Not in a foolish way, of course. But for a cause.

During your lifetime you'll be constantly faced with situations where you could remain quiet or do nothing and see an injustice done. Today whole nations of people do this, while dictators take their neighbors off to jail or concentration camps. Why? Because enough people keep their necks in to save them.

The world needs people who'll stick their necks out for the right. Woe to the land which possesses no such brave souls, or where there are too few!

America is a great land for neck-sticking-out. Our nation was founded by men who dared. It is full of them today. Will you be one when you grow up?

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