As we go to press the communication lines around the world are buzzing with the reverberations of a speech made before the General Assembly of the United Nations by the President of the United States. The political implications are of minor interest; but the spiritual values are seen clearly to represent a vital signpost pointing the way toward an enlightened approach to the solution of world problems. It is a message to the peoples of the world, not merely to governments. An appeal to raise our eyes above the thick smog of a negative bickering and see the larger perspective and its potential for positive progress.
Civilization has advanced to the threshold of an open door leading to incalculable possibilities for good. This doorway cannot be passed through, however, without the willingness to give the proper password — unselfishness. For years international conference tables have been the center of long and serious debate — all for the purpose of striking an even balance of power: power for destruction. And to no present avail. It is indeed the manifestation of a spiritual impulse when any nation proposes with seriousness a conference table around which propositions and counter-proposals are made to strike the balance of a newly motivated power: power for construction.
When our thoughts extend to the vastly greater horizon of President Eisenhower's proposal, our vision rises above the boiling level of national and international politics. We there see the potential of our great scientific progress being utilized for the good of all humanity — if those in the forefront of this effort can bring themselves to abandon the outmoded password — selfishness — and accept the new.
There can be no certainty that the concept uttered before the General Assembly of the United Nations has power enough to dominate the thinking and the feeling of all the peoples of the world. Idealism alone does not guarantee success. The history of mankind is bitter testimonial to the fact that noble ideals have been uttered before, have been laughed at before; been uttered again, and laughed at again. Ultimately they have succeeded, else where would civilization be today if the power for good had not triumphed, however quietly, time and again through the centuries?
Two great wars have provided the stage-setting for man to turn his eyes toward his fellowman with trust and a desire to work together. Whether we realize it or not, the pages of history have proven that unless we do extend our vision beyond our own self-centered interests, some form of catastrophe is engendered by the resultant accumulated selfishness. We cannot believe that the present dilemma can be solved only by a major cataclysm, either military, political or social. Nor are we convinced that our problems, which are basically moral and spiritual and not political, have reached beyond our control, as some would have us fear. We believe that the alchemy of a right thought, a bed-rock spiritual thought, engendered in the hearts of peoples of all nations will work magic — white magic — which in no long time would dissolve the barriers built by ages of false concepts of security.
Yet who can legislate security? Who can determine that the constructive power of this latest proposal before the world will not become another failure washed down the river of selfishness? We cannot pray evil away. We cannot deny it away. And there isn't anyone who can go out into the world and preach that job done. How then can we give to governments and their delegations at a world round-table the strength to overcome the obstructionism in world thinking?
The real security, the only hope for durable peace, lies in the direction of the individual, in bringing his selfish human will under control of a higher will, in making his mind and its products the servant of his spiritual will. In this way alone will the great scientific potential become an instrument for good, a vehicle for the liberation instead of the destruction of man. Swords into plowshares all over again.
We face a new year, the door into which is already ajar. We cannot merely hope and pray that our step through that door will be one toward light and peace. If it is true, as every sacred scripture has maintained, that a spark of Divinity resides at the heart of every human being, then by the very nature of things the inner alchemical processes which operate in the lives of men must and will bring it into fruition, if we but give that spark the chance to burn more brightly. Each one of us, individually, must accept the challenge of the new password, the password of unselfishness, and humbly but knowingly sacrifice our share of altruistic force on freedom's altar that a constructive, brotherly relationship may flourish among all peoples of the world.
A Happy New Year to all.
(From Sunrise magazine, January 1954; copyright © 1954 Theosophical University Press)