Years ago a relief lifeboat at New London sprung a leak, and while being repaired a hammer was found in the bottom that had been left there by the builders thirteen years before. From the constant motion of the boat the hammer had worn through the planking, clear down to the plating.
Not long since, it was discovered that a girl had served 20 years for a 20 months sentence, in a southern prison, because of a mistake of a court clerk who wrote ” years” instead of ” months” in the record of the prisoner’s sentence.
The history of the human race is full of the most horrible tragedies caused by carelessness and inexcusable blunders of those who never formed the habit of accuracy, of thoroughness, of doing things to a finish.
Let’s look at people at work, I have read countless stories about people losing their legs, eyes, or an arm, or very seriously injured because dishonest workmen wrought deception into the articles they manufactured, slighted their work, covered up defects and weak places with paint and varnish.
How many people have lost their lives because of dishonest work, carelessness, criminal blundering in railroad construction? Think of the tragedies caused by lies packed in car wheels, locomotives, engines; lies in defective rails, ties, or switches; lies in dishonest labor put into manufactured materials by workmen who said it was good enough for the meager wages they got! Because people were not conscientious in their work there were flaws in the steel, which caused the rail or pillar to snap, the machinery to break. The steel shaft broke in mid-ocean and the lives of thousands of passengers were jeopardized because of somebody’s carelessness.
Even before they are completed buildings often fall and bury workmen under their ruins, because somebody was careless, dishonest, either employer or employee and worked lies, deceptions, into the building.
The majority of railroad wrecks, of disasters on land and sea, which cause so much misery and cost so many lives, are the result of carelessness, thoughtlessness, or half done, blotched, blundering work. They are the evil fruit of the low ideals of slovenly, careless, indifferent workers.
Everywhere over this earth we see the tragic results of botched work. Wooden legs, armless sleves, numbered graves, fatherless and motherless homes everywhere speak of somebody’s carelessness, somebody’s habit of inaccuracy. The worse crimes are not punishable by law. Carelessness, lack of thoroughness, are crimes against self, against humanity, that often do more harm than the crimes that make the perpetrator an outcast in society. Where a tiny flaw or the slightest defect may cost a precious life, carelessness is as much a crime as deliberate criminality.
Most people think too much of quantity, and too little of quality in their work. They try to do too much, and do not do it well. They do not realize that the education, the comfort, the satisfaction, the general improvement, comes from one person doing one thing absolutely right, from putting the trademark of one’s character on it, far outweighs the value that attaches to the doing of a thousand botched or crappy jobs.
The quality we put into our lifework effects everything else in our lives, and tends to bring our whole conduct on the same level.The habit of precision and accuracy strengths mentality, improves the whole character.
Every half done job that goes out of your hands leaves its trace of demoralization behind. After slighting your work, after doing a poor job, you are not quite the same person you were before. You are not likely to try to keep up the standard of your work, not so likely to regard your word as sacred as before.
The mental and moral effect of half doing, or carelessly doing things; its power to drag down, to demoralize, can hardly be estimated because the processes are so gardual, so subtle. No one can respect himself who habitually botches his work, and when self respect drops, confidence goes with it; and when confidence and self respect have gone, excellence is impossible.
So if one word can send a girl to jail for years instead of the intended months then imagine what havoc and trouble is encountered for doing jobs half done and what a huge effect it has on our lives. The solution is for all of us to do the best job we possibly can do. Keep up the high standards and we will not have carelessness taking over our lives.