An emergency means a great danger threatening, perhaps the very life. But it means, too, that if the danger can be gripped and overcome there will be great victory. Two possibilities come up close and stare each other angrily in the face; the possibility of great disaster impending, and of great victory over it within grasp, if there be a reaching hand to grasp it. The deciding thing is the human element, the strong, quick hand stretched out. If strength can be concentrated, the situation gripped, then great victory is assured. But it takes the utmost concentration of strength, with rare wisdom and quick steady action, to turn the tide toward flood. If this is not done, either because of lack of leadership or of enough strength or enough interest, disaster comes.
Just such emergencies come to us constantly. A severe illness lays its hand upon a loved one in the home. The crisis comes. Death and life stand in the sick-room eying each other. Either one may be victor. No one can tell surely which it will be. And every effort is strained, the habit of life broken, other matters forgotten and neglected, that death may be staved off, and life wooed to stay. And when the crisis passes safely the joy over the new lease of life makes one forget all the cost of strain and effort.
Who of us cannot recall some time back there, when some emergency came in personal business matters, and personal and home expenses and plans were cut down to the lowest notch, to the bleeding-point, that the emergency might be safely met.
Teachers and parents know that moral emergencies come at intervals in a child's life, until young manhood and womanhood are reached. One of the greatest tasks in child-training is to note the emergency, and meet it successfully. And what keenness and patience and subtlety it does take only he knows who has been through the experience.