Gambar halaman

Doubtless there is something to be said for this suggestion on strictly utilitarian grounds. From the point of view of history and sentiment, the argument is all against such a change. Although our correspondent cites no precedent, he might easily have done so. Prior to the Revolution, France was composed of a large number of provinces, all, if not most, of which had at some time or other in the more or less remote past been practically independent states, owing only the slightest allegiance to a sovereign power-Anjou, Artois, Auvergne, Champagne, Picardy, Normandy, Gascony and the like. The old legal status was ended by the Revolution, France since being cut up into a convenient number of departments. Sentiment aside, the change has proved to be a serviceable one. Why, however, should sentiment be put aside? We suspect that the American people are not yet prepared to reduce everything to an arithmetical basis.

We confess our indebtedness to our correspondent for bringing to our attention the fact that there are, as he says, in this country 657,892 laws in effect. That is altogether too many even when divided among 48 states and a Federal Government. We are, in fact, a law-ridden people, and it is doubtful if we are in any way bettered by the fact. The purpose of the law is, it is said, to be a terror to evil doers. If that is the case we must be a nation of evil doers. If we may be pardoned the apparent bull, we may say seriously that the fact that there are 657,892 laws in effect in this country has a comic aspect. It almost makes one agree with Montaigne, who says, "I am of opinion that it would be better for us to have no laws at all than to have them in so prodigious numbers as we have."


The Market Price of Heroism

HE prediction that the Bonus Bill will come up for discussion again has caused a constant reader of the JOURNAL to send us a few words on "Moral Pauperism, the Aftermath of the War." He says: "There is an evil effect of war of which little mention is made. Yet, in its degenerating character it is more insidious and longer-lived than many more patent primary effects. I am conscious that he who dares to bear this ulcer is likely at once to be ostracized as an ingrate. Men whose duty it was to offer

their lives and fortunes for the good of their country as a mere matter of course were told that they were doing something grand and heroic; something extraordinary. They were not; they were in exactly the same category as a boy chopping wood or getting a hod of coal for his mother. They have been told that they should be rewarded in extra measure. Hence clamor for bonuses, veteran preferences, special privileges, and what not. This leads them to expect something for nothing and an easy life in idleness at the expense of others. This means degeneracy with a capital “D”.

"This in no way discredits or minimizes real acts of heroism, such as were often performed in isolated cases. But the real hero is a rare exception. Undoubtedly, there would have been many more if opportunity had offered, but the opportunity for real heroism is small. Happening to be of age and physical fitness so as automatically to become a defender of one's country does not confer heroism any more than happening to be of age to drink milk does. The man who happens to be between the ages of 18 and 46 when a war occurs is not a hero.

"Now the sooner the real truth is realized and we stop trying to divert money to an improper end and trying to demoralize administration of affairs by incompetence preference laws, the better for us. No, boys, 99.9 per cent of you are not heroes. You would be if you had the chance, but you were just dutiful sons of your country. Don't let hysterical demagogues make you moral paupers.'

These are obviously the words of a very austere man. He has evidently taken to heart the Scriptural injunction "When ye have done all these things ye shall say I am an unprofitable servant." This is not an austere age, though very likely it will of necessity become one if we vote four billions of dollars to provide bonuses for those who went to war. To provide four billions of dollars will be to take what remains of joy out of the life of a great number of Americans. But apart from that consideration, it is distressing to see one's country putting a money price on heroism.

The real hero would never think of doing such a thing. We should like to think of those who came back from war alive in about the way we think of those who gave their lives for their country.

"Of those who at Thermopylae were slain
Glorious the doom, and beautiful the lot;
Their tomb an altar. Men from tears refrain

To honor them, and praise, but mourn them not.' So sang Simonides 2400 years ago. He is matched by Collins alone, who 175 years ago sang:

"How sleep the brave who sink to rest

By all their country's wishes blest.

There Honor comes, a pilgrim gray
To bless the turf that wraps their clay;
And Freedom shall awhile repair

To dwell a weeping hermit there."

It is in that kind of coinage that everyone who came home alive from the Great War should wish to be paid. To desire any other form of payment must necessarily, in our eyes, deprive his service to his country of a part of its bloom.

Cleopatra's Nose

PRAY for of exsumed the the

RAY for the peace of Jerusalem! exclaimed the psalmist. Well, since the 12th of November some of us, in the spirit inculcated by the President of the United States, have been praying for the peace not only of Jerusalem, but of the whole world. That is, we have prayed that the effort then initiated by the Disarmament Conference to convert the sword into a ploughshare might be a success.

We wish we could be sure that the prayer which has gone up to heaven would be answered. Why should it not be? Could anything be more pleasing to the Almighty than the end of war, the establishment of peace and good will among men? But that is not the point. The question really is, Could anything be more pleasing to us?

In other words, the first thing to be determined is the sincerity of our desire for peace. It is quite useless to deceive oneself on this point. We cannot honestly say that we desire peace until we realize what peace actually means. We are apt to think of peace as a negative, whereas in its essence it is the most positive of positives. If it really were a negative we should all ardently desire it, for it would save us a vast amount of effort, money and blood. But as a positive is it worth the price?

This seems a brutal question. Nevertheless, it is a pertinent one, and not so easily answered in the affirmative as some may suppose. When you pray for peace you necessarily pray for peaceableness; otherwise your prayer is mockery. Frankly, if we we pray for peace without praying for and striving to cultivate the peaceable spirit, which is the foundation of peace, we stamp ourselves as arrant hypocrites.

Well, we shall all be told that the peaceable spirit is precisely what we have all been praying for in a very long time. Let us hope we do not deceive ourselves. The peaceable spirit makes a very quiet man, but a very determined one. It is he who leads the strenuous life, and not the one who is always looking for a fight. The latter proceeds along the line of least resistance; that is, he spontaneously responds to his brute instincts. The former rules himself with a rod of iron, guarding every thought and act in order that it may conform to strict justice; his is the intense, the concentrated, the arduous life.

Now that is the life which everyone who honestly prays for world peace must consistently and heroically pursue. Perhaps most of us will say that in the main we always have pursued that life. But in that case, why should the Disarmament Conference be in session?

It is absurd for a nation to pray for peace unless it is living righteously, for it is only from the righteous that you may look for peace at any and all times; where there is a lack of virtue there may at a particular moment be peace, but as it is based on cowardice or expediency rather than on high principle, it affords no sense of security. Now it is a sense of security that the world is striving to achieve by means of the Disarmament Conference. The gentlemen at the Conference may cry, Peace, Peace, but there will be no peace if an effort is made to base it on expediency.

Why have the different nations come to the Conference? Why do they labor to bring about world disarmament? What is their primary motive (for it is by their primary motive that we must judge the character and effect of their work)? Is it to get rid of the cost of armaments, which has brought every nation on earth to the verge of bankruptcy? Is it to curb the ambitions of certain of the powers, and possibly to further those of others? Is the primary motive one of absolute ingenuousness?

Is disarmament sought merely for economic or political reasons? If it is, we may look for no permanent benefit from the Conference.

The devil was sick-the devil a monk would be;

The devil was well-the devil a monk was he.

Let us hope that the Conference is not in the nature of a death bed repentance. Let us hope that everyone at the Conference will mean what he says, and that before he gets through he will say exactly what he means.

The world can have peace any time it wants, and the fact that it has not had any too much of it in the past can mean but one thing-it has not wanted too much. When the prophet ejaculated "Rend your hearts and not your garments!" he got about as near truth as anyone who has ever spoken on this footstool. If we spent one-tenth as much time rending our hearts as we do our garments, this would be the most comfortable world to live in that anyone could imagine. We hope the Disarmament Conference will forever put an end to war, as well as to the cost of war. But we should feel a little surer of the result if we were less familiar with human nature.

The best method of permanently abolishing war was enunciated 1900 years ago in the words: "Do unto others. as you would that others should do unto you.” That is all there is to it, and all there ever will be. There have been, however, a great many wars in the last 1900 years. In other words, the peace has not been kept; and for the simple reason that there was not enough of the peaceable spirit. The peaceable spirit implies that you will not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his money, nor his territory; that, in fact, you would rather give him your goods than steal his. The minute that people all over the earth acquire this spirit war will cease ipso facto. There can be no war when everyone is disposed to be as fair with his neighbor as he is with himself.

Pascal says: "If Cleopatra's nose had been shorter the whole face of the world would have been altered." Cleopatra's nose has, indeed, occasioned a great many_wars. There was Paris, who in an evil moment went over to Greece and carried away Menelaus' wife. That meant ten years' war and the destruction of Troy. The only thing that can be said in favor of the act is that it gave us the greatest poem ever written. To the charms of the Sabine women is imputed

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »