Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/152

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
126
EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

tary duty very heavy, to be taken as a soldier is like incurring a capital sentence.

If a man enjoys a position of advantage compared with others, he is anxious to entail it on his children; if he is under shame or disadvantage, he is anxious to break the entail. One who is born of a duke is anxious to maintain hereditariness, but one who is born of the hangman rebels against it. The two are part of one system, and, in the long run, must stand or fall together.

He who is not able to attain to his standards of happiness by his own efforts is one of the "weak;" he does not want to be let alone; he wants some one to come and help him. He who is confident of his own power to accomplish his own purposes, wants to be let alone; he is "strong" and resents interference. In the long run, however, he who may be called upon for aid in the former case will insist on his right to interfere in the latter case, and he who claims freedom in the latter case will find that he must bear his own burdens in the former. Any other course would simply lead to a new system of privilege and servitude, for he who can choose his own ends and make somebody else help him attain them has realized privilege in its old and ever-abiding sense.

Privilege and servitude, therefore, when we classify them with reference to our present study, are the poles between which all forms of social status lie. Rights lie on the side toward privilege; duties lie on the side toward servitude. Rights and duties, however, are not separated by any gulf nor even by a line. They overlap each other. Not only are they parallel and connected by the social reaction, but also to different men or at different times the same thing often presents itself either as a right or a duty, e.g., military duty. Somewhere between, however, lies the middle point or neutral point,