Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/109

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Editor's Table.


GOOD use was made of a Washington celebration at Oberlin College, Ohio, by the chief speaker of the occasion, the Rev. A. A. Berle, to utter words that are peculiarly needed at the present time. His subject was Popular American Fallacies, and among these he noted the following: That Anglo-Saxondom is identical with the kingdom of God; that national glory and power can supply the place of national character; that new occasions always teach new duties; and that political alliances may do away with the necessity for "a dual alliance," as he expressed it, "between the people and God."

These particular fallacies, in our opinion, were happily chosen. There is a great deal of silly talk current about the incomparable glories and unimaginable destinies of the Anglo-Saxon race; and it never seems to occur to those who indulge in such talk that a profound sense of one's greatness is very far from being a sure sign of greatness. The greatest characters are the simplest and least boastful. Their greatness is so native to them that they are scarcely conscious of it; and they leave it to others to sing their praises. It is presuming altogether too intimate an acquaintance with the designs of Providence to claim that any race in particular is charged, above all others, with carrying those designs into effect. Who knows what reservoirs of moral and intellectual force may reside in nations and tribes whose world-action has been very obscure as yet? Dr. Arnold, of Rugby, thought that much of high value for civilization lay dormant in the negro race, and it is too soon to say he was mistaken. Then, who knows what the Slavonic race may bring forth? Who can calculate the future of the vast human hive known as China? And, after all, what has any nation got to do except to behave itself, be it great or small, famous or of no great repute? How is it in the community? Do we admire great men who swagger, who boast of their wealth, their strength, their courage, or their virtue? A little quiet consideration will persuade any man that there is one law for all nations alike—the law of justice and humanity—and that the greatest nation, according to any true conception of greatness, is the one which exemplifies that law most perfectly in its domestic and foreign policy. The surest sign of greatness in a nation, we venture to say, is that it should hate war—not dread it, but hate it.

It is a singular thing that any but the most light-headed portion of the community should fall into the second fallacy which the speaker mentioned—that national glory and power can take the place of national character. A nation requires a true heart, an honest self-consciousness, just as much as an individual, and time will avenge national misdoings just as surely as it will those of individuals. No numbers, nor any amount of huzzaing or factitious enthusiasm, can make a vicious policy safe. You may win victories with chariots and horsemen, but to enjoy the fruits of peace there must be a dominant love of justice, and that is what war does not tend to promote. It is also very true, as the speaker said, that there are not many new duties to be learned in this age of the world. There is enough of moral truth taught in old