Sunrise Magazine Online

The Higher Internationalism

By Lydia Ross, m.d.

The whole wide ether is the eagle's sway;
The whole earth is a brave man's fatherland
. — Euripides

The higher internationalism is that state of world welfare wherein harmonious relations of individual life are writ large enough for the whole human family. It is the practical expression of that tie of reality which links all men on the deepest inner lines. Far from being a poetic dream, it is the natural stage of healthy growth where the total human evolution rounds out its mental and material growth with its essentially humanistic traits of mind and character. It is simply the higher mathematics of Individualism, which begins with the proposition of one times one.

World wars and their chaotic aftermath prove that we are suffering from a disorder of higher internationalism minus, and lower internationalism plus. Nations group together, not to act in harmony but in conflict. It is crude barbarism, ingrafted upon the tree of civilized knowledge — a costly experiment to let unreckoning materialism reverse the evolutionary machinery, and start us down the path of degeneracy, instead of up the natural road of progress.

The present disorganized state of world-affairs pictures the end-results of a provincial policy of self-interest in conducting racial business. All sentiment aside, the human family can no longer ignore the co-ordinating medium of the higher humanities in its practical interrelations. Both individual and general welfare demand a universal standard of ethical values, with a new coin of the realm bearing the imprint of man, instead of the golden calf. This mechanistic age, psychologized with its machinery of life raised to the nth degree of efficiency, is paying dearly for the ignored lesson that only the higher human forces can stabilize the operation of material affairs.

The sick world is so infevered and infected with self-interest that it confuses the hallucinations of its delirium with the healthy reality. History, perforce, in recording the truth, must include the strange fact that during the great wars — terrible and deplorable to all peoples — it was rated unpatriotic to talk of peace. Even discussion of internationalism led to suspicion of sentimental treason — or worse. Yet internationalism is the normal racial state of national maturity. It is the humanistic manhood, so to speak, of different peoples. It marks the time for individual peoples to put away limited ideals and to take on the dignity and duties of world-citizenship.

Patriotism has its place; but we need a matured patriotism which as it reaches higher levels along its national path of progress will find its horizon embracing more and more of the outlying world. It is the soul's urge for completeness which vitalizes all evolution, its innate longing for the perfection of its native homeland behind the veil of birth and death.

Evolution is no blind process of matter, but is an endless unveiling of the animating consciousness within. It is the triumphant march of spirit finding its way through the mazes of matter. It is an eternal process which cannot be defeated nor safely ignored. All nature engages to work out the ever-changing forms needed for the play of the law of progressive growth — the stone, the plant, the animal, and the man-form. And nature is ever on guard to check law-breaking. The offenders appear first in the human kingdom, where selfishness perverts the use of free will to gain its ends. The primitive offenders, being less responsible, are less severely punished. Moreover, the so-called savage is less guilty, for he lives up to his full mental value and to his moral code, such as they are. But his civilized brother is held accountable for his multiplied powers of idealism. He can make more demand upon the evolutionary law, but — the law makes more demand on his stewardship.

Now that civilized peoples have tied themselves together by every material and mental interest, have brought the ends of the earth together, nature and natural law demand that they reach a like solidarity in the higher humanities. Failing to do this, they sow the disintegrating seeds which the law ripens for their sowing — new forms of disease, insanity, war, crime, vice, famine, bankruptcy, and fear and despair. The conscious quality must be worthy of its imbodiment; or the incarnating Self rejects it and engages Nature to scrap it, salvage what she can, and try again. All of which facts bring us up to date, where the law of natural growth is checking up modern progress for its spiritual failure to progress.

The way Nature works to upbuild physical man suggests a like process in the growth of the racial organism. The human body begins with a microscopic cell which divides and subdivides, the multiplying cells differentiating to form the various organs of a complex body. Each cell-group has its place and plays its part in the balanced economy. Local monopoly or poverty or perversion of cells, either in the embryo or in adult tissues, affects the healthy growth of 'unity in diversity.' The present point is, that the first cell divides and differentiates for the purpose of expanding its growth, then again uniting its active potentialities in a new, vastly larger, and more complex form, and with equal functional power.

Apply the cell-analogy to the division and differentiation of racial units into masculine and feminine forms and qualities. These, united in the family, develop individual character and expand human relationships. Families, in turn, being differentiated social units, unite in a national body politic. Each nation has its individual type of physical, mental, and moral make-up. The nations differentiate for the purpose of again uniting in the larger organism of the whole human family, with added powers in proportion to the perfection of the units which make up this union. The jurisconsults will find an international code in the evolutionary law, which is the court of last resort for nature and human nature.

Is it not true that our modern intellectualism reads less purpose and balanced plan into human life than Nature shows in the processional changes of her sub-human kingdoms? Have not specialization and sectarianism and analysis and monopolism and sex-antagonisms and war and lawlessness and competitive greed and ambition and mere brain-education been operating to carry the function of division beyond all normal and safe stages of growth? Evidently the natural purpose of such widespread differentiation should be some new and unusual organization of racial proportions. Instead of which, the abnormal, selfish quality actuating this gigantic process of division, is creating new-born monstrosities of evil, and malignant growths in the body politic.

The remedy for racial ills is to get back to nature, to cease the unavailing division and separation of interests, and to unite the differentiated men and nations into harmonious activities for progress and the common good. The possibilities and the benefits of unity are undreamed of by materialism. In a nation, the higher Self over-shadowing each individual is so keyed to unity that, from the collective best and noblest in a people, is born a composite national spirit that broods over a country. It is no mere figure of speech, but a great reality that makes the very soil of a fatherland sacred and beloved. The more individually perfect is a people's expression of the national spirit, the greater is their power for international unity and understanding.

This indwelling national spirit is one and the same under all the varying guises of times and places and peoples. We get glimpses of its reality in the buried treasure-lore of antiquity; in the spiritual out-reaching of a suffering world today; in the calm philosophy of the old Orient; and in the fresh, enthusiastic urge of western growth; in the classic line and balanced beauty of bygone Greece, and in the Latin idealism of a later day; in legends of heroic Norsemen, and in Celtic mysticism; in the American Indian's ceremonial devotion to the Great Mystery, and in the native African's melody, its penetrating pathos and appeal harking back to racial childhoods. Human life would be immensely the poorer in the loss of any single element of living history in the make-up of our world, which is the heir of all that has gone before.


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If a man could feel,
Not one day, in the artist's ecstasy,
But every day, — feast, fast, or working-day, —
The spiritual significance burn through
The hieroglyphic of material shows,
Henceforward he would paint the globe with wings.
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning