Witr/rm-R the 109 th anniversary of Trafalgar and its celebraRational tion in Dunedin will conPatriotlsm. stitute the high-water
mark beyond which we can hardly expect to go, we need not pan?e to consider. But that the organisers, and workers, and consistent believers in the scheme submitted to the people of this City and Province by the Otago Patriotic Association have cans* for gratification with the response that was made to their appeal cannot be denied. Theirs has been a strenuous and uphill game —not wholly unmarked by ‘‘doubting Thomases”— carried through with cheerful confidence and determination, and crowned with so generous a measure of success that criticism must close its lips and remain silent. There may, of course, be those who had counted on more. Nelson, dying in the, cockpit of the Vicloty, when the news was told him that his fleet had sunk or taken 14 or 15 of the enemy's ships, made answer ; “ Hardy, I had bargained for 20.” It is a good thing to pitch high the goal of practical achievement in the way of public giving. There are always more than sufficient who are ready with their damp blankets and “ ifs ” and ‘‘ buts " and “I don't thinks.” With a worthy cause and a knowledge of the surrounding conditions over-estimates are rare. Therefore. the association may well take heart and press forward. There is room, too, for quiet approval of tho subject matter and the (one and the spirit that characterised the speeches of the chief speakers at the afternoon and evening meetings. With what Mr Gray, Mr Thomas, Mr Hay, and Dean Fitchetfc had to say we are in thorough accord. And this not solely -because tho standpoint of these gentlemen an-,1 the method of its expression were those which this journal from the outbreak of the war has unwaveringly adopted, but because they confirm our belief that there is no other way or form in which (he issue can be stated, the conflict now devastating Europe is not wholly or even chiefly a conflict between tho material forces of the Powers engaged. It is the moral factors that are involved that will and must decide the issue. If, one is pressed for a definition of “ moral forces,” or asked sarcastically of what avail is a platitude, however noble, against a Kvupp gun, one can only answer that neither guns nor swords have ever permanently decided tho fate of nations. The sword at Hastings left Harold dead upon the field of battle, and crowned William King in Westminster Abbey. But the moral forces that were at work made EngJand and the English not Norman, but Saxon, it is the highest and best that alone have an assured permanence. We know, beyond hesitation, that there can be no continued supremacy of evil. Satan, in his baffled despair, cried : “ Evil*bo thou my good,” and mankind hoe been at war against Satan and his doctrine from that hour to this. To question tho victory of good and to accept the enthronement of evil would be to lose hope and faith both in man a«d God; and he who does this, says George Eliot, has already entered into the’ outer darkness. Eminently sane, too, Wofo fcfae o£ the speakers we have named to the discipline and .the motal of the war upon the individual and the nation. If victory is to idave us the same materialistic, occasionally' arrogant, and indifferent people that too many of us have been, then we shall have passed through the fiery: furnace “in vain, have
left unheeded the one lesson that was alone worth learning, and have resown that seed the fruit whereof is dust and ashes. That the Trafalgar Day we have been celebrating should have provoked such thoughts as these is, however, an indicatkm that men and women everywhere are increasingly directing their minds to the consideration of thoso things that really count. In this relation it is not inopportune to offer a comment upon the many and varied ways in which our patriotism seeks to express itself, Tho majority of these are more noisy than harmful, but there are one or two which, quite unintentionally, and with the best motives in the world, may do substantial harm. Among these we cannot but place the suggestion that school children should this year forgo . their prizes in order that the money so saved may be sent to Great Britain and Belgium. If such a proposal is good for school children it is good for adults, and if it is good for books it is even better for many other articles that might be mentioned. There is neither philanthropy nor common sense in this form of self-denial, in the particular instance noted it would be a gross injustice to the booksellers and the almost certain means of throwing several citizens out of employment.. This sort of “ giving ” is a boomerang that will come back upon others as well as its authors. Do let our patriotism be rational in its character, and the best way to make it so is that we should go about our business in the ordinary way. That is the advice of the best men and journals in the Old Land, that is tho advice of our own Minister of Education, and that is our advice as well.
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Evening Star, Evening Star, Issue 15630, 22 October 1914
Evening Star Evening Star, Issue 15630, 22 October 1914
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