Living By Proxy

Vance Havner

This article originally appeared in the Charlotte Observer, 12/26/1926. Copyright “Friends of Vance Havner” 2022

One reason why so many of us live such drab and uninteresting lives is, we live by proxy. Most of our opinions, joys ad experiences are second-hand. Too stupid to play the game of Life for ourselves, we sit in the grandstand and pay others to play it for us.

We go to the show and have our fun and romance vicariously. We don’t try to find romance in real life, we think it exists only in novels or on the screen.

We go to the athletic field and pay others to play for us while we sit hunched up with our indigestion and diabetes. Everybody ought to play part of the time and not some people all the time.

We go to school and instead of learning there to think for ourselves, which is the only value of an education. We come away tanked up on other men’s ideas, our heads crammed with odds and ends of information. And we go through life using other men’s brains, mistaking information for education.

We go to the polls and vote and most of us couldn’t explain the difference between a Democrat and a Republican for our lives. We usually vote like our granddaddy. Most of us are Democrats and Republicans for the same reason that we’re Baptists and Methodists it just runs in the family.

We go to church and listen to some man explain religion. And pay him for it. But never investigate religion for ourselves, never try it out in our own lives. As a result, most of the religious opinions of men are secondhand conclusions borrowed from somebody else. Few people are personally acquainted with Jesus Christ, they have only heard of Him through an interpreter.

So we live by proxy – other people do our living for us. We do not go directly to the Garden of Life for our food, we live on mental and spiritual canned goods prepared in the laboratories of others. We live as a man who might travel by changing from one train to another and never using his own legs. –We never know the joy of original thought and independent living.

There is as much romance in your life as in any novel. Look for it. There is as much fun in your experiences as Will Rogers or George Ade find in theirs. Hunt for it. Life is a great game, you don’t have to go to a stadium to see a fight. Your own life is a great scrap if you make it so. You have a head, use it for some other purpose than a ___. Don’t limp through life on the crutches of other men’s opinions. And don’t depend on some preacher to find and explain God to you. You are as near to the Over-Soul as anybody. Truth and beauty and love and God are everywhere as the air and sunshine. Nobody has a monopoly on the eternal treasures, they are as free to you as to Coolidge or the Pope of Rome or Henry Ford.

Quit living by proxy. Get out of the easy chair and walk on your own feet. Don’t live second-hand life!