Carlos_E__AsayFlaxen Threads

I have engaged you in this simple demonstration to make a point. Suppose each strand of thread used in binding these young men represented one bad habit. From the demonstration, we might conclude that a single bad habit has limited restricting power. A number of bad habits, however, has great power—almost limitless power. “The chains of habit,” said one man, “are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken”.  Plato, it is said, once rebuked a person for engaging in a gambling game. When the person protested that he had only played for a trifle, Plato replied, “The habit is not a trifle”. When I taught at this institution, I worked with students who fitted, floated, or failed. Those who fitted came with purpose, high resolve, and good work habits. Those who floated appeared on the scene for a semester or two and faded away to something less challenging when their grades finally caught up with them. Those who failed lacked the commitment and discipline required of a person in an institution of higher learning. It seemed to me that most of the failures were shackled by poor habits. Some were not in the habit of attending class regularly; some were not in the habit of reading required texts; some were habitually late in submitting assignments; some were not in the habit of budgeting time and energies; and some were not even conditioned to work. In all too many cases, so it seemed to me, one weakness seemed to breed upon another, and what appeared at first to be a flaxen habit proved to be a strong inhibiting cord. A Spanish proverb reads: “Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.” I suspect that most students come here with pure intent. They register, select their courses of study, and attend their classes with high hopes of attaining declared goals. But, when one becomes careless, when one permits resolve to sag, slouchy habits appear, and academic anemia sets in. This malady comes web by web until learning and growing are choked off by the cables of intellectual inactivity. . .  I would remind you “walking bundles of habits” that there is a relationship between thoughts, actions, habits, and characters. After the language of the Bible we might well say: “Thought begat Action; and Action took unto himself Habit; and Character was born of Habit; and Character was expressed through Personality. And, Character and Personality lived after the manner of their parents.” A more conventional way of linking the above concepts is found in the words of C. A. Hill: “We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions; we sow our actions, and we reap our habits; we sow our habits, and we reap our characters; we sow our characters, and we reap our destiny”.