Page images
PDF
EPUB

NCOTRALITY

is triumphant; and when triumphant, it necessarily brings peace. But peace does not necessarily bring righteousness.

As for neutrality, it is well to remember that it is never moral, and may be a particularly mean and hideous form of immorality. It is in itself merely

unmoral; that is, neither moral nor immoral; and at times it may be wise and expedient. But it is never anything of which to be proud; and it may be something of which to be heartily ashamed. It is a wicked thing to be neutral between right and wrong. Impartiality does not mean neutrality. Impartial justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.

There are schools of pacifists who decline to profit by the exercise of the police power, who decline to protect not merely themselves, but those dearest to them, from any form of outrage and violence. The individuals of this type are at least logical in their horror even of just war. If a man deliberately takes the view that he will not resent having his wife's face slapped, that he will not by force endeavor to save his daughter from outrage, and that he disapproves of the policeman who interferes by force to save a child kidnapped by a black-hander, or a girl run off by a white-slaver, then he is logical in objecting to war. Of course, to my mind, he occupies an unspeakably base and loathsome position, and is not fit to cumber the world - on which, as a matter of fact, he exists at all only because he is protected by the maintenance by others of the very principle which he himself repudiates and declines to share.

[graphic]

Such a position I hold to be as profoundly immoral as it is profoundly unpatriotic.1

VI

In Maine there are many seafaring folks. I can illustrate what I mean about the use and abuse of the word safety by the life-saving service. This is a service especially designed to secure greater safety for ships' crews, and generally for persons whose lives are imperiled on the water. It is a service to secure safety. But the safety is secured only because some brave men are willing to risk their own lives in order to save other lives. They do not put “safety first,” as far as they themselves are concerned. If they did, no lifeboat would ever be launched from a life-saving station. But the men on a sinking ship who crowd into the lifeboats ahead of the women and children do put “safety first.” I will say this for them, however: Whenever they get ashore they do not wear buttons to commemorate the feat as some of our opponents in the present campaign do.

Life-saving medals are granted every year. Each medal means that a life has been saved; and each means also that in order to save it another life has been put in jeopardy. The “safety first” class does not get such medals. Every life-saving crew is composed of men who are tough, hardy and well-trained. They put safety first as far as self-indulgence, and soft ease, and mere money-getting are concerned; otherwise they would be helpless in a storm. But where duty and safety are concerned, they put duty first and safety last.

1 From Fear God and Take Your Own Part. Copyright, 1916. George H. Doran Company, publishers.

I wish to see this nation act in similar fashion, both as regards its own safety and as regards the performance of international duty. I wish to see it, by forethought, by effort and hard training, and by the cultivation of a broad and intense feeling of national endeavor and national patriotism, to so develop its courage and its efficient strength as to be able to hold its own against any possible aggression; and then I wish to see it put duty first, not safety first, when any small, well-behaved people is treated as Belgium has been treated. I stand for the safety that is obtained by the performance of duty. I do not stand for the safety that is obtained by the sacrifice of duty.

1 Speech at Lewiston, Maine, August 31, 1916.

II. NATIONALISM

It is well at this time for sober and resolute men and women to apply that excellent variety of wisdom colloquially known as "horse-sense" to the problems of nationalism and internationalism. These problems will not be solved by rhetoric. Least of all will they be solved by competitive rhetoric. Masters of phrasemaking may win immense, although evanescent, applause by outvying one another in words that glitter, but these glittering words will not have one shred of lasting effect on the outcome except in so far as they may have a very mischievous effect if they persuade good, ignorant people to abandon the possible real good in the fantastic effort to achieve an impossible unreal perfection. Let honest men and women remember that this kind of phrasemongering does not represent idealism. The only idealism worth considering in the workaday business of this world is applied idealism. This is merely another way of saying that permanent good to humanity is most apt to come from actually trying to reduce ideals to practice, and this means that the ideals must be substantially or at least measurably

realizable. The professed internationalist usually sneers at nationalism, at patriotism, and at what we call Americanism. He bids us forswear our love of country in the name of love of the world at large. We nationalists answer that he has begun at the wrong end; we say that, as the world now is, it is only the man who ardently loves his country first who in actual practice can help any other

[graphic]

Gal

country at all. The internationalist bids us to promise to abandon the idea of keeping America permanently ready to defend her rights by her strength and to trust, instead, to scraps of paper, to written agreements by which all nations form a league, and agree to disarm, and agree each to treat all other nations, big or little, on an exact equality. We nationalists answer that we are ready to join any league to enforce peace or similar organization which offers a likelihood of in some measure lessening the number and the area of future wars, but only on condition that in the first place we do not promise what will not or ought not to be performed, or be guilty of proclaiming a sham, and that in the second place we do not surrender our right and duty to prepare our own strength for our own defense instead of trusting to the above-mentioned scraps of paper.

The horse-sense of the matter is that all agreements to further the cause of sound internationalism must be based on recognition of the fact that, as the world is actually constituted, our present prime need is this sound and intense American nationalism. The first essential of this sound nationalism is that the nation shall trust to its own fuly prepared strength for its own defense. So far as possible, its strength must also be used to secure justice for others and must never be used to wrong others. But unless we possess and prepare the strength, we can neither help ourselves nor others. Let us by all means go into any wise league or covenant among nations to abolish neutrality (for of course a league to enforce peace is merely another name for a league to abolish neutrality in every possible war). But let us first understand what we are promising, and count the cost and

[graphic]
[graphic]

Y

« PreviousContinue »