Theirs that commit them … theirs that permit them
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“Theirs that commit them … theirs that permit them,” New Era, June 1971, 43

Theirs that commit them … theirs that permit them

“The Spoken Word” from Temple Square, presented over KSL and the Columbia Broadcasting System, March 7, 1971. © 1971 by Richard L. Evans.

There is this from Thomas Fuller that is worth some further thought: “The first faults are theirs that commit them; the second theirs that permit them.”1 We have cited before the sentence from Plautus that says, “I count that man as lost who has lost his sense of shame.”2 We lose much also when we lose our sense of concern—or when we cease to be embarrassed about just plain, low-minded morals; when we cease to concern ourselves with what can or should be done. Indifference to anything that is far from what it ought to be is a dangerous disease, for there is no evidence or indication that evil, without opposition, will ever put restraints upon itself. This brings us to an oft-quoted sentence: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”3 When we see immodesty, false standards, attractive temptations, and people, young and old, persuaded to patronize low-minded entertainment or persuaded to partake of things that would be injurious to body, mind, and morals—if to all of this we turn aside with seeming unconcern, we can expect society to move further toward the downside, because evil is brazen, greedy, unembarrassed, without regard for wholesomeness, or health, or happiness, or the everlasting things of life. And so there comes a time when we have to search ourselves, and not always blame all things on others, or onto the trends of the times—for circumstances don’t simply make themselves. And without the courage to stand against what shouldn’t be, life could drift to its lowest level. “Stand with him while he is right,” said Abraham Lincoln, “and part with him when he goes wrong.”4 To paraphrase the sentence earlier cited: I count that man as lost—that civilization, that society as lost—that has lost the sense of embarrassment, or the sense of shame. “The first faults are theirs that commit them; the second theirs that permit them.”


  1. Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, No. 4528.

  2. Plautus, Bacchides, 1. 485 (act iii, sc. 3).

  3. Attributed to Edmund Burke.

  4. Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Peoria, Illinois, Oct. 16, 1854.