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Delay is like unto death." Thus said Peter the Great. What is new in this? Why is this saying so often called to mind? Is there anyone who does not know it already? There is nothing new in this aphorism, nevertheless it is and will be remembered. It should be inscribed upon all state and public institutions. It should be on the first page of school textbooks.

It does not matter whether something which has been said is absolutely new or not. In general is not the new merely a matter of time and circumstances? But the point is that something which has been said in such an authoritative form must enter into all human works. And this is not repetition, because what was said is probably entirely original in the brevity and convincingness of its form. That which is needful, needful for everyone, needful for each day is expressed simply. It recalls what people try to put out of mind, as much as possible. They try to counter this with the cynical maxim. "Do not do today what can be put off till tomorrow."

In cynicism and laziness people try to make up tales and sayings in order somehow to put off work. It means that for them any task is a burden, an affliction, it means that for them labor is a curse. And yet is it not terrible when a destined joy is turned into a curse, into terror, into distress?

Delay is everlastingly uniform in its qualities. How adroitly it screens itself, so well concealed that even the experienced eye does not always discern where it has occurred. Endless reasons may be found for this. Yet each one knows that a madman may become resourceful and inventive to an unimaginable degree.

Delay occurs through lack of knowledge and due to a complicated character. It occurs because of credulity regarding others and from intentional maliciousness as well. In a word, almost all actions that take place can be classified according to this or that degree of procrastination. If only this procrastination would not finally inflict harm! But any imperfection, the same as any evil, must invariably reecho somewhere and somehow. In the history of every nation can be found striking examples of how a small delay produced great effects. Consequently this delay was not as small as it might appear to the earthly eye; it means that in it was already contained the entire embryo of what was to follow. If such delays were to be examined under the microscope, there could be seen a ready culture for all kinds of bacteria.

If all who delay would recognize the future being created by them, then, surely many of them would be terrified and would increase tenfold their promptitude and diligence. But people in general think little about the future. We have said more than once that in school students do not learn to think about the future. Yet without thought about the future, man will be blind, as it were. Those who have become blind see what is past, but do not perceive their future. Blindness, as such, should be avoided by means of the best medical treatment.

Thus it is that people seemingly prepare themselves for the future; but when its signs draw near, they are not recognized. It was said long ago that a messenger was coming, but when he arrived, people did not recognize him. Because of this the most needed and urgent letters may have fallen into malicious hands.

In the last analysis, such non-recognition is also contained in delay. The very word delay sufficiently expresses that something has been put off, that is to say, it has come too late. One can be too late in setting eggs under a hen, and then one need not be surprised that the chickens do not hatch out. The example of the egg is very convincing, because in it all the elements for the succeeding evolution have been made ready. And from a simple delay or from careless forgetfulness something foreseen and prepared is allowed to rot. But does any one have the right to engender corruption through faithlessness?

The statement by Peter the Great is in reality a great and relevant adage. One has but to recall his life and untiring labor in order to understand how many reins the ruler knew how to hold simultaneously in his hands. There are people who know how to hold several reins, but there are others who hold on to one with difficulty because of not having developed this ability in themselves. What sort of driver will one be with one rein in his hand? Such comparisons would be laughable if they were not sometimes so sad.

It should not be thought that everything innate already exists in a cultivated form. Of course everything must be cultivated and tested. Moreover, testings cannot be accidental; they must be encountered in full consciousness and with lull preparedness and rationality.

Such preparedness and keen-sightedness protect one against delay. Can there be delay in the flight of a meteor? Could the orbits of the luminaries admit of delay?

"Delay is like unto death."

"Leave not the honey exposed too long" is also a saying about delay. Each one has tested himself on how his entire destiny can be altered by a minute's belatedness. It has been said: "Being early is to be judged, but being late is already condemned." In this ancient maxim is also expressed a warning about timeliness.

Again, is it necessary to repeat any of the old warnings? After all, they are so old, and they have cautioned people for so many ages. They have forewarned, and urged, and proved their usefulness. Nonetheless, petty habits of life have been violently opposed to all the good precepts. To counter each bit of good advice an excuse has been invented.

Our days are bringing all sorts of accelerations. But all these prizes for swiftness still do not signify that the great maxims about delay are becoming unnecessary. One may let a date slip by and then no swiftness is of assistance. Conversely, each belated burst of speed produces only a deep sorrow.

Something already molded and only needing a last impulse has become benumbed in an artificial situation. And what can be more unnatural than the spectacle of a man left standing on one leg? It is impossible to remain thus for long. It is also impossible to drive with one rein, especially if it be weakly held.

The fluttering ones must somehow be persuaded that delay is dangerous first of all for themselves. Of course, they think. Let someone wait. But they invariably forget the fact that such waiting will cost them too dearly.

"Delay is like unto death."

Tzagan Kure

May 9, 1935

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