4. The vicissitudes of life are of two kinds, or if you prefer, stem from two different sources which are important to distinguish. Some have their cause in present-day life, while others arise outside this present life.
On going back to the origins of earthly misfortunes it must be recognised that many are natural consequences of character and the behaviour of those who suffer them.
How many fail through their own fault? How many are the victims of their own thoughtlessness, pride or ambition?
How many destroy themselves through lack of discipline, misconduct or from not knowing how to limit their desires!
How many disastrous marriages are due to the fact that they were built on calculated interest or vanity, in which the heart took no part!
How many disagreements and fatal disputes could have been avoided with the aid of a little moderation and less susceptibility!
How many illnesses and diseases stem from intemperance and excesses of all kinds?
How many parents are unhappy with their children because they did not combat their bad instincts from an early age! Either from weakness or indifference, they allowed the germ of pride, selfishness and stupid vanity to grow in them, so causing their hearts to dry and shrivel. Later on, when reaping what they have sown, they are surprised and afflicted by the lack of gratitude and the indifference with which they are treated.
We ask each one whose heart has been hurt by vicissitudes or deceptions, to study their own conscience closely; to go back, step by step, to the origins of each misfortune which is torturing them. Like as not they will be able to say: if I had done, or not done, such and such a thing, I would not be where I am now.
Who then is responsible for Man's afflictions if not Man himself? So then in a great number of cases he is the cause of his own misfortunes. But instead of recognising this fact he finds it easier and less humiliating to his vanity to accuse his bad luck, providence or even his unlucky star, when in actual fact his unlucky star is his own carelessness.
When reckoning with the misfortunes of life, suffering of this nature undoubtedly forms the greatest part of all vicissitudes. Only when Man works at bettering himself, both morally and intellectually, will he be able to avoid this category of suffering.