For a number of years now there has been a heated controversy in metropolitan areas concerning smog. No large city is unique in this respect. Every twenty-four hours factories send tons of particles into the atmosphere which collect like a blanket over the cities, dimming the sun's light and smarting the eyes. But whether or not there is a visible smog, when we consider the quantity of gasoline, wood and other fuels that are burned each day in the cities of the world and on the highways, we might well ask: what becomes of the byproducts? It seems likely that liberating such vast quantities of gases and particles into the atmosphere, will in time surely affect our climate — if not our health! So there is a controversy raging against smog, and when the pressure of public demand is great enough, steps will be taken to make filtering the smoke of factories mandatory.
As usual, our visible troubles take precedence over all others. We can see smog; it hurts our eyes, so we decide to do something about it. Actually, however, there are other kinds of smog that are even more deadly. There is the mental smog and the emotional smog with which we surround ourselves. Every hour of every day we fill the atmosphere of the world with thoughts and feelings for which we are directly responsible. We blaze with indignation over some real or imaginary affront; the air around is heavy with the portent of violent reprisal. At other times, fear may hang over us like a cloud and we fumble in performing the most routine act. But all the while we are liberating thoughts and feelings into the very air that surrounds us. Each nation is under pressure from the thought emanations of its people. Collectively, the world carries the same burden.
Such emanations cannot be weighed on scales, yet the mental and emotional smog in which we live powerfully affects us. Sensitive children raised in a family atmosphere of marital insecurity are often blighted for life. We speak of the tension of our times, but this pressure and anxiety is simply the reflection in the world's atmosphere of our own psychological state. Hysteria results when one's ability to cope with his anxieties breaks down and he is paralyzed by negation. Mass panics arise when for a time otherwise normal men and women open the gates to the sea of emotional smog.
Fortunately, there are other qualities of influences being sent out from humanity than those of a negative type. These have an offsetting effect. Generous thoughts, high aspirations, the steady performance of duty, self-sacrifice for family, friend or nation — all these whether known by others or unrecognized, lessen the subtle tensions around us. Actually the heart of nature is clean and fine, as those who live in the country or on the seashore will testify. But the dynamo that is man is constantly charging the psychological battery of this old world with his activities inner and outer. And sooner or later that battery will discharge back upon us the net result of what we have put into it, for which we will have only ourselves to thank or blame.
Cleaning up the smoke of our cities is expensive but needed, and valuable by-products can be reclaimed from the air. Filtering the mental and emotional smog surrounding us costs only a little self-control, a little refining of our thoughts — the positive assertion of our better natures in the affairs of daily life. And the by-products will be valuable beyond computation.
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