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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter IV
I was driving down Fifth Avenue a few years ago and the taxi driver turned to me and said, "Say, Madam, have you ever known a nice Jew?" I replied that I surely had and that some of my closest friends were Jews. He then inquired if I had ever known a bad Jew and I replied that I had known lots of them. He then proceeded to ask if I had ever known a nice Gentile and I naturally replied, "Of course. In fact, I think I am one myself." He next asked me if I had known some bad Gentiles and I made the same reply. "Well, then you see, Madam, what's left? Just human beings." And that has been my experience everywhere. No matter what the race or nation, basically we are all alike. We have the same faults and failings, the same urges and aspirations, the same goals and desires and I believe that we need to realize this more keenly and practically.

We need, also, to free ourselves from the impression which history and its crystallizing nationalisms have laid upon us. The past history of every nation is a sorry story but it conditions our thinking. Great national thought-forms rule the activities of every nation and it is from these that we need liberation. This can be easily seen if we look at some of the leading nations and their characteristics. Take the United States. The Pilgrim Fathers have set their seal or stamp upon this country, but I am inclined to agree with a friend of mine who remarked that the real founders of America were the brave Pilgrim mothers because they man [146] aged to live with the Pilgrim fathers, for the United States is a feminine civilization. The Pilgrim Fathers must have been a very narrow, hard-boiled, superior set of men and most difficult to get on with, for they were always right.

The cautiousness, reticence and sense of superiority of the British is something from which they must release themselves, and the certainty of the French that the glory which is France and which made her a leader in the middle ages must again be restored for the good of Europe, has to be overcome. Every nation has its outstanding faults and of these the other nations are more conscious than of the virtues. The livingness of America is forgotten in the irritation evoked by our bombastic boasting. The inherent justice of the British is overlooked when the Britisher is seen refusing to explain himself. The brilliance of the French intellect is not emphasized by those who are aware of France's complete lack of any international consciousness. And today the U.S.A. with its youthful exuberance, its promising surety, and its juvenile ability to settle all problems, their own and the rest of the world, is working out that inheritance towards a future of wonder and usefulness and beauty unparalleled.

The same criticisms and the same recognitions of virtue could be posited for all and every nation and it is the same with people. We all have outstanding faults which shriek so loud to the world that our equally outstanding virtues are forgotten. One of the things that troubled me when I started to write this autobiography was the fear that perhaps, unconsciously and without deliberate intent, I would make out a good case for myself. I have good points; I cannot be turned from my purpose; I really love people; I'm not a bit proud. I have a reputation of pride but I think it is largely due to posture. I walk very straight and hold my head high but so would you if (as a girl in [147] the school room) you'd had to do your lessons whilst holding three books on the top of your head and having a sprig of holly under your chin. I do not think I am a selfish person and I'm not greatly given to thinking of my health and I think I can truthfully say I'm not full of self pity. I am normally conservative and used to be very critical but I am not really critical any more because I have a knack of seeing why people are what they are; no matter what their faults it doesn't alter my attitude to them. I do not harbor resentments, perhaps largely because I'm too busy to be bothered, and because I do not like a festering point of poison in my mind. I'm sure I am irritable and I know I am difficult to live with because I drive myself and I drive everybody associated with me, but my outstanding fault and the one which has given me the most trouble throughout my life is fear.

I mention this most deliberately because I have discovered that when my friends and students find out that I've been the victim of fear all my life they are greatly relieved and helped. I have been afraid of failure, afraid of having faults, afraid of what people think of me, and afraid of the dark, and afraid of being looked up to by other people. I have never found it anything but a detriment to be put upon a pedestal and looked up to. I agree with the Chinese proverb which says that, "He who stands upon a pedestal has nowhere to step but off." I find the attitude of the average head of a group or occult teacher and many of the priests and clergy most irritating. They pose as if they were really the anointed of the Lord; as if they were different from other people and not just human beings trying, with simplicity, to help their fellowmen. As the result of my background and training I used to be very much afraid of what people said. I don't care now because I find that, right or wrong, you are always wrong with certain sections [148] of the public. Most of my fears are for other people - my husband and my children - but I have one personal fear to which I never give way but which is always with me, I am afraid of the dark at night if I'm alone in the house or apartment. I never knew what this fear was until I was working in the Quetta Soldiers Home. I have brought up my three girls not to be afraid of the dark, but I had an experience then which did something to me and, although I have never permitted it to affect my actions, I have had to fight it ever since.

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