To the world's conscience every humane mind must appeal in this hour of the world's dilemma. War is a symptom — the effect of an inner cause that began ages ago among those who were yet the creatures of inborn savagery — having its sole origin in human selfishness or fear, or both. Hence its cure and abolishment lie not in conferences more or less sincere or insincere, but in a radical regeneration of the human heart — a change of spirit.
This cure is not difficult or far away, or impracticable, but actually is the most real and most ardent wish of every normal man and woman. Nothing so stirs the masses of people as does an unselfish appeal directed equally to the heart and the intelligence. Response is immediate, universal and sincere to the last degree.
War could never arise if between nations, just complaints on the one side, and frank and honest defenses on the other side, were laid openly upon the council table, and a sincere and high-minded effort were made to obtain a peaceful settlement of the disputes. The party refusing to abide by such a decision or refusing to submit its case to a tribunal would be blackened and shamed before the entire world — a situation which no civilized nation would dare to face today.
Never in any case do the people desire war. Only when their minds are inflamed and angered by injustice — real and imaginary — does the demoniac war fever arise with its attendant train of shameful charges and countercharges, misrepresentations and slander, hate and horrors of many kinds. Let us determine to abolish from our hearts all moral trickery, all selfish grasping and advantages, all fear of our fellowmen, and war, even all fear of war, will dissolve away as do the mists before the morning sun. War will become impossible; for war is merely the effect, the symptom, the result, of inner moral weaknesses.
These are facts, and the remedy is always with us, sure and infallible in its results. Should disputes arise between nations, submit the case to neutral referees or arbiters — honestly, laying the entire case before them without reserve and unafraid — and then abide by their decision loyally and honorably. Can anything be simpler, wiser, and more sure? If we lose, then we lose; if we win, then we win; and in this manner we proclaim the justice of our cause and vindicate the national sense of honor before the whole world. Often has this been done with success, and bitter and bloody wars have been avoided with their horrible aftermaths, often as terrible, as history shows, as war itself.
When an individual refuses to submit his case to neutral and honorable referees, there is an instant presumption in all men's souls that his case is poor and unworthy, that he dare not lay it frankly and openly before the world. Nor do the frequently complicated conditions in international affairs differ in form or in fact from the frequently complicated conditions in individual cases.
War is a deliberate absurdity. It is a confession of weakness, and no frenzied rhetoric, or shameful accusations against the enemy prove anything other than that the case is weak, unworthy, and too frail for submission in a peaceful manner for impartial adjudication. There is the whole situation and also the remedy. Nothing can be urged against it except fear and greed. A man who truly loves his country cannot have two thoughts about it. A man who loves his fellowmen everywhere cannot have two thoughts about it. The remedy lies in our hands, in our very hearts, in the very role of right itself. Only phantoms oppose it — moral vampires, which feed on the very lifeblood of the race. What are these phantoms? Greed and fear.
Some people say that war makes for heroism, or creates it, and that prolonged peace enervates a people, which finally falls before a stronger and more warlike race. What mad reasoning is this! If such people are sincere, I can respect their sincerity; but I cannot respect their lack of intellectual penetration or their lack of intuition. Both statements are utterly false. Merely the careful reading of history proves the contrary in both cases.
War is not a forcing ground of moral strength, of which heroism is but one single flower. War is in its very essence violence and brutality, and hence its influence is disintegrating, destructive, and brutalizing. Peace and civilization are the sole and true nursery of the noble impulses and of the heroisms that shine forth in splendor in times of catastrophe, moral or physical. Such occasional acts of heroism as shine forth in warfare do so in spite of war, simply because they were already in the nature which displays them and were put there by the sacrifices and sorrows as well as the lessons taught us in peacetime. It is vice and weak self-indulgence which lower and finally destroy civilizations. But these exist also in war times, only a hundredfold more unrestrainedly, simply because war time is a time of moral relaxing, hysteria, and mental and moral enervation.
Universal brotherhood — the keen realization of the spiritual and natural oneness of humankind — is the only key to a peace that will last, a peace of conviction and sincerity. Hundreds of examples can be found every day of the misuse of the highest principles, of the perversion of high ideals and great truths, of the planting of the seeds of dissension and the spirit of warfare among men, of the persistent endeavor of the lower forces to destroy the glorious work of brotherhood.
Unbrotherliness is the insanity of the age. It menaces in no small degree the progress of our civilization. Its power cannot be broken or destroyed until man has had ingrained into his heart and mind the fact that he is divine in nature, until he realizes that he possesses the immortal potentiality of good, that true freedom exists only where the higher law holds in subjection the lower. Not until he seeks to gain the ascendancy over his lower nature can he do his highest duty to his fellowmen, or be a brother in the truest sense of the word, or live in the freedom of Freedom.
Let us hope with that grander hope of the soul, the energy of right action, that the day is not far distant when the great sweeping force of love — of true brotherliness — shall encompass humanity, when the knowledge of right living shall be in the grasp of all and shall be lived in the truest sense of the word, when children shall be conceived and educated in the atmosphere of purest thought and grander action. Then, and not till then, shall humanity commence to build the solid foundation of a golden age and work in the kingdom of freedom.
Every lover of justice is making an appeal to the conscience of the world because war is a deathly curse to civilization. Is it ordained that children must be born to be sacrificed in blood as tributes to greed and power? Take warning ere it is too late!