My blood runs cold when Peter talks about becoming a criminal or a speculator; of course, he's joking, but I still have the feeling he's afraid of his own weakness. Margot and Peter are always saying to me, "If I had your spunk and your strength, ifI had your drive and unflagging energy, could. . . Is it really such an admirable trait not to let myself be influenced by others? Am I right in following my own conscience?
To be honest, I can't imagine how anyone could say "I'm weak" and then stay that way. If you know that about yourself, why not fight it, why not develop your character? Their answer has always been: "Because it's much easier not to!" This reply leaves me feeling rather discouraged. Easy? Does that mean a life of deceit and laziness is easy too? Oh no, that can't be true. It can't be true that people are so readily tempted by ease. . . And money.
I've given a lot of thought to what my answer should be, to how I should get Peter to believe in himself and, most of all, to change himself for the better. I don't know whether I'm on the right track. I've often imagined how nice it would be if someone were to confide everything to me. But now that it's reached that point, I realize how difficult it is to put yourself in someone else's shoes and find the right answer. Especially since "easy" and "money" are new and completely alien concepts to me. Peter's beginning to lean on me and I don't want that, not under any circumstances. It's hard enough standing on your own two feet, but when you also have to remain true to your character and soul, it's harder still. I've been drifting around at sea, have spent days searching for an effective antidote to that terrible word "easy". How can I make it clear to him that, while it may seem easy and wonderful, it will drag him down to the depths, to a place where he'll no longer find friends, support or beauty, so far down that he may never rise to the surface again?
We're all alive, but we don't know why or what for; we're all searching for happiness;we're all leading lives that are different and yet the same. We three have been raised in good families, we have the opportunity to get an education and make something of ourselves. We have many reasons to hope for great happiness, but. . . We have to earn it. And that's something you can't achieve by taking the easy way out. Earning happiness means doing good and working, not speculating and being lazy. Laziness may look inviting, but only work gives you true satisfaction. I can't understand people who don't like to work, but that isn't Peter's problem either. He just doesn't have a goal, plus he thinks he's too stupid and inferior to ever achieve anything. Poor boy, he's never known how it feels to make someone else happy, and I'm afraid I can't teach him.
He isn't religious, scoffs at Jesus Christ and takes the Lord's name in vain, and though I'm not Orthodox either, it hurts me every time to see him so lonely, so scornful, so wretched. People who are religious should be glad, since not everyone is blessed with the abilityto believe in a higher order. You don't even have to live in fear of eternal punishment; the concepts of purgatory, heaven and hell are difficult for many people to accept, yet religion itself, any religion, keeps a person on the right path. Not the fear of God, but upholding your own sense of honor and obeying your own conscience. How noble and good everyone could be if, at the end of each day, they were to review their own behavior and weigh up the rights and wrongs. They would automatically try to do better at the start of each new day and, after a while, would certainly accomplish a great deal. Everyone is welcome to this prescription; it costs nothing and is definitely useful. Those who don't know will have to find out by experience that "a quiet conscience gives you strength!"
Yours, Anne M. Frank