THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 1, November,
"POPULARITY" -- the acclaim, or, at least, the approval of the populace -- what price has Humanity not paid for this supposed boon! Fleeting as it ever is, fickle and vain, yet has the craving for popularity played definite part in the evil destinies of nations and contributed its influence in innumerable phases of individual association. The longing to be seen and to be heard, to be pointed out for admiration, acclaimed and applauded, is a powerful foe to all Man's highest interests. Its unrecognized residence in the heart is like a volatile fluid one drop of which can expand to complete permeation of a large building. Once the germ of personal ambition arises from dormancy, like a dark and evil genius, it will overshadow an erstwhile sweet and sunny mind; left unsubdued, its force increases to proportions such as to sweep away all honor, loyalty, mercy, and love: if there be aught to gain, fair and kindly friendship is sacrificed; gratitude shrivels and dies; loyalty gives place to cowardice; honor succumbs to treachery; and love is laid low.
The Theosophical student finds the subject of peculiar significance and special application, when he ponders the past of the Movement, and considers the present and future welfare of this none-too-popular Cause that he loves. For if Theosophy has not been popular, even less so have been its Messengers and Exponents. Therefore, since human nature is the same now as when Theosophy was presented, it may profit the thoughtful to cogitate upon what might have transpired had H.P.B. and W.Q.J. met with the applause of the multitude, or even the lasting favor of the majority within the Theosophical ranks. In that event, would so many "honest" doubts have arisen? Would there have been so much "sincere" protest, -- "for the good of the Work"? Would there have been so many "mistakes" discovered? Would there have been so many unable to "understand" the Great Teachers, or sense in some small degree Their mighty status? After all is said, was it actual confusion and clouded discrimination that prompted the role played by many; or did terror of the unpopular party enter strongly into the betrayal and crucifixion of those Friends of the Race?
Anomaly enough: this unpopularity, sooner or later, of each and all of the Line of Predecessors! For each has brought naught but blessing, and has been Himself most lovable. Why, then, this cruel fact, this blot on the escutcheon of Humanity? So far as the world at large is concerned, the reason is obvious; for Theosophy calls it from the pursuit of selfish pleasure, to duty long deferred. But with those of the Household, -- they who have proved the deadliest foes of all -- how could such a thing be? The explanation seems to lie in the existence of two factions: the one jealous of the Teacher's knowledge and power and, so, busily engaged in His belittlement; the other a faction that could have "saved the day," but failed to do so, through fear that thus defending and supporting the Teacher, they themselves would be "unpopular," or ostracised by those whose worldly approval was their criterion.
This line of procedure has too long been the story. Over and over again, has the birthright of the Soul been bartered for "a mess of pottage"; and those who proclaimed that birthright betrayed to the Moloch, Popularity. But this is a new and better era, wherein the mistakes of the past are carefully scanned for present warning and profit. It has been said that "Three righteous men can save a city;" and just as truly can it be said that even a very few out of Earth's teeming millions stalwart enough to look "popular prejudice straight in the face" can always prevail -- as has been proven, and thus stands for the encouragement and inspiration of all those who, down the future years, would continue the safeguarding of the Theosophical Movement, by preserving a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood. This accomplished, the voice of the people, ages hence, shall be raised for Truth and righteousness; and only falsehood and evil shall be unpopular.