Seven years ago the reaction to world conflict brought into being the United Nations organization, just as three decades previously the same quality of reaction effected the effort to create the League of Nations. The spiritual foundation from which these impulses sprang was brotherhood. Not brotherhood as a nice sentiment, nor that concept which easily becomes a "pernicious abstraction" as Abraham Lincoln warned, but the genuine principle of brotherhood which underlies all Nature. These urges to bring about a recognition of mankind's fundamental responsibility are signposts of the progress of modern civilization. The underlying principles of the League of Nations did not fail; the seeds of brotherhood sowed then came into fruition in 1945.
In these seven years, the U.N. has made great strides, far greater than is generally realized. The mistakes made do not necessarily indicate failure, but might well be proof of the spiritual foundation upon which the organization is built. The very desire to move forward towards its goal "without distinction of race, sex, language, or religion," as its Charter asserts, is to arouse opposition among those unable to raise their sights above the mediocrity of self-centered security.
There is an ancient axiom: "In proportion to our aspirations are our difficulties." This applies to any conscious part taken by individuals or groups of individuals to move forward toward a fuller realization of our common heritage.
Today we can see the truth of that axiom confirmed in some of the difficulties that have been raised by the force of aspiration contained in the U.N. Charter — revealing that the principles laid down represent in fact the strength and solidity of the combined effort to help mankind realize a "universal respect" for each brother nation, and an advancement of "mutual knowledge and understanding of all peoples."
To err is human, but to cease trying is awful. The United Nations obviously has made errors, and will continue to do so. It is likewise obvious that no Charter will prevent an unscrupulous aggressor from perverting a good aim to his own ambitious ends. Nor will a Charter prevent a few weak souls from scrapping a high vision when the going gets rough. Nevertheless, the impulse that gave it birth must be continued, and hopefully there will always be those within the structure of the United Nations whose responsibility it is to carry this impulse forward who will hold to the original vision of the Charter until ultimate success is achieved.
There never has been, nor will there ever be, an effort made in spiritual concerns that does not attract to it that which would forestall the progress of civilization. If this were not the case, then those aspiring would be deprived of the very stimulus to effort which strengthens the spiritual muscles of both mind and heart. It is by overcoming the destructive backward pull that we build the power to move forward. Ultimate success, however, is a long term matter, and cannot be achieved by one great leap. Those who weigh spiritual values more closely than temporal are not afraid of the long view, for the very endeavor to assess life by inner rather than outer standards demands long term thinking — a perspective of centuries if not of millennia.
The destructive element we speak of is never represented by the masses in any country, but is spearheaded always by a ruling power whose selfish aspirations would gain supremacy for the few at the expense of the many. The peoples of all countries, untrammeled by the dominating few, would not find difficulty in knowing and understanding each other, nor in working together. It is for this reason that the success of the principles behind the United Nations will ultimately be attained.
Much is being said these days, and written too, about Peace: social peace, economic peace, military peace. But is peace the first step to consider? Is it truly our primary goal? We could have peace at any price! Peace and war are in reality effects, and not causes: peace being the effect of harmony and understanding; war the effect of inharmony, selfishness and a lack of understanding. When we achieve harmony and understanding, then we shall automatically have peace.
We must deal with causes, not with effects; with the inner motivators of men's hearts, and not with their words. It is obvious, therefore, that the U.N. is on the right track in its vast educational program to change the hearts and minds of men, and to help us think of the other fellow and of his well-being as well as our own. In this it has struck at the very core of each man's responsibility — "since war begins in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed."
Each century has its own essential characteristic in the progress of time. This characteristic or natural tendency toward growth finds its greatest obstacles at the century's midpoint. It is then that the forces of progress find themselves aligned face to face with those forces which would hinder progress and keep mankind's eyes from the future. We are experiencing today that array of forces in both inner and outer struggle. It is a time when we cannot with immunity compromise with principle. To use the principle of compromise, yes, in adjusting the personal wills of some to meet the reasonable adjustments of the wills of others. But to compromise with principles, never. In periods of stress and difficulty such as we are witnessing today, we are faced with the grave temptation to compromise with basic principles. If we do this, the vision and the cause of real progress will be lost for centuries.
October 24th is the seventh anniversary of the ratification of the United Nations Charter. It is a symbol of the spirit of man's evolution in this century. If each of us supports this aspiration toward a world partnership, we shall help mankind move forward into a new dawning and win the battle of spiritual freedom.
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No one is so busy or so poor that he cannot create a noble ideal and follow it. Why then hesitate in breaking a path towards this ideal, through all obstacles; over every stumbling-block, every petty hindrance of social life, in order to march straight forward until the goal is reached?
Those who would make this effort would soon find that the "strait gate" and the "thorny path" lead to the broad valleys of the limitless horizons, to that state where there is no more death, because they have regained their divinity. But the truth is that the first conditions necessary to reach it are a disinterestedness, an absolute impersonality, a boundless devotion to the interests of others, and a complete indifference to the world and its opinions.
The motive must be absolutely pure in order to make the first steps on that ideal path. Not an unworthy thought must turn the eyes from the end in view, not one doubt must shackle the feet. — H. P. B.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. — 1 Corinthians, 13