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plundered; as reformers have more than once discovered when the mass of the voters stolidly voted against them, and in favor of a gang of familiar scoundrels, chiefly because they had no sense of fellow-feeling with their would-be benefactors.
The tendency to patronize is certain to be eradicated as soon as any man goes into politics in a practical and not in a dilettante fashion. He speedily finds that the quality of successful management, the power to handle men and secure results, may exist in seemingly unlikely persons. If he intends to carry a caucus or primary, or elect a given candidate, or secure a certain piece of legislation or administration, he will have to find out and work with innumerable allies, and make use of innumerable subordinates. Given that he and they have a common object, the one test that he must apply to them is as to their ability to help in achieving that object. The result is that in a very short time the men whose purposes are the same forget about all differences, save in capacity to carry out the purpose. The banker who is interested in seeing a certain nomination made or a certain election carried forgets everything but his community of interest with the retail butcher who is a leader along his section of the avenue, or the starter who can control a considerable number of the motormen; and in return the butcher and the starter accept the banker quite naturally as an ally whom they may follow or lead, as circum· stances dictate. In other words, all three grow to
feel in common on certain important subjects, and this fellow-feeling has results as far-reaching as they are healthy.
Good thus follows from mere ordinary political affiliation. A man who has taken an active part in the political life of a great city possesses an incalculable advantage over his fellow-citizens who have not so taken part, because normally he has more understanding than they can possibly have of the attitude of mind, the passions, prejudices, hopes, and animosities of his fellow-citizens, with whom he would not ordinarily be brought into business or social contact. Of course there are plenty of exceptions to this rule. A man who is drawn into politics from absolutely selfish reasons, and especially a rich man who merely desires to buy political promotion, may know absolutely nothing that is of value as to any but the basest side of the human nature with which his sphere of contact has been enlarged; and, on the other hand, a wise employer of labor, or a philanthropist in whom zeal and judgment balance each other, may know far more than most politicians. But the fact remains that the effect of political life, and of the associations that it brings, is of very great benefit in producing a better understanding and a keener fellow-feeling among men who otherwise would know one another not at all, or else as members of alien bodies or classes.
This being the case, how much more is it true if the same habit of association for a common purpose can be applied where the purpose is really of the highest! Much is accomplished in this way by the university settlements and similar associations. Wherever these associations are entered into in a healthy and sane spirit, the good they do is incalculable, from the simple fact that they bring together in pursuit of a worthy common object men of excellent character, who would never otherwise meet. It is of just as much importance to the one as to the other that the man from Hester Street or the Bowery or Avenue B, and the man from the Riverside Drive or Fifth Avenue, should have some meeting-ground where they can grow to understand one another as an incident of working for a common end. Of course if, on the one hand, the work is entered into in a patronizing spirit, no good will result; and, on the other hand, if the zealous enthusiast loses his sanity, only harm will follow. There is much dreadful misery in a great city, and a high-spirited, generous young man, when first brought into contact with it, has his sympathies so excited that he is very apt to become a socialist, or turn to the advocacy of any wild scheme, courting a plunge from bad to worse, exactly as do too many of the leaders of the discontent around him. His sanity and cool-headedness will be thoroughly tried, and if he loses them his power for good will vanish.
But this is merely to state one form of a general truth. If a man permits largeness of heart to degenerate into softness of head, he inevitably becomes a nuisance in any relation of life. If sympathy becomes distorted and morbid, it hampers instead of helping the effort toward social betterment. Yet without sympathy, without fellow-feeling, no permanent good can be accomplished. In any healthy community there must be a solidarity of sentiment and a knowledge of solidarity of interest among the different members. Where this solidarity ceases to exist, where there is no fellow-feeling, the community is ripe for disaster. Of course the fellow-feeling may be of value much in proportion as it is unconscious. A sentiment that is easy and natural is far better than one which has to be artificially stimulated. But the artificial stimulus is better than none, and with fellow-feeling, as with all other emotions, what is started artificially may become quite natural in its continuance. With most men courage is largely an acquired habit, and on the first occasions when it is called for it necessitates the exercise of will-power and self-control; but by exercise it gradually becomes almost automatic.
So it is with fellow-feeling. A man who conscientiously endeavors to throw in his lot with those about him, to make his interests theirs, to put himself in a position where he and they have a common object, will at first feel a little self-conscious, will realize too plainly his own aims. But with exercise this will pass off. He will speedily find that the fellow-feeling which at first he had to stimulate was really existent, though latent, and is capable of a very healthy growth. It can, of course, become normal only when the man himself becomes genuinely interested in the object which he and his fellows are striving to attain. It is therefore obviously desirable that this object should possess a real and vital interest for every one. Such is the case with a proper political association.
Much has been done, not merely by the ordinary political associations, but by the city clubs, civic federations, and the like, and very much more can be done. Of course there is danger of any such association being perverted either. by knavery or folly. When a partisan political organization becomes merely an association for purposes of plunder and patronage, it may be a menace instead of a help to a community; and when a non-partisan political organization falls under the control of the fantastic extremists always attracted to such movements, in its turn it becomes either useless or noxious. But if these organizations, partisan or non-partisan, are