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CHRISTMAS 1914

[By Sm Robert Stout, K.C.M.G., C.J., in the ' Oamaru. Mail.'] "Ring in the thousand, years of peace." For thousands of years the " Return of the Sun/' as it has been called, has been a joyous season. As Washington Irving said": "It is a great thing to have-o-r.o flay in the year, at least, when you are sure of being welcome wherever you go, and of liaving, as it were, the world all thrown open to yov." We have followed the customs of our ancestors- of the Northern Hemisphere ar.d we celebrate tho shortening and not the lengthening of the day. It is not, however, necessary to inquire into the origin of Christinas. We have followed ancient customs, and we have given many explanations of thenorigin. The 10 volumes of Erazcr'a 'Golden Bough' afford us much information about tho beginnings of many of our practices and customs. Ancient- customs still surround us. 1 thought of this when 1 was sitting in Xcwtewn Park the other day watching the farewelling of our Third Expeditionary Force. Behind the crowd in the east of the Park there are ewmgs erected, and youths were _ using them. Swinging was "once a religious ceremony. Could an ancient of 3,CCO years haw been present, the swinging at the starting forth of an army would not have, been considered a peculiar proceeding Swinging, as Frazer says, was a, magic rite. or. as we would say, a religious ceremony. Christmas," whatever its origin, has become associated as tho one day of kindly feeling, of joy, of love, of brotherhood. Ithas come to us in 1914 when many nations are plunged in grief. Never in history has there been such' a- war as is afflicting the human race at the present time. We speak of paet battles," but they pale, into significance before this horrid war. Tho loss of life has been immense. At Trafalgar our loss of men did not. roach 2,000. And England in the Crimea. War—it lasted about two vears—had, according to Mulhall's statistics, only 98.100 men at the war altogether. We sent only 20.C00 at first—about half what tho Australasian colonies have sent to tho present, war, and our losses in two years of killed and of those who died from wounds and of sickness were only 22.182. Our Josses in tho first five months of this war exceed this number. Then the numbers engaged in this war far exceed the numbers that- have, CV'T been engaged in any war. Whilst our young people are enjoying themselves in this festive season and all of ue axo recalling the past and rememliering our friends, may we not spend some little time in meditation on the present eta-to of the world? How comes itthat Peace has made such slow progress. We have had all kinds of organisations to •promote peace and good-will to all. and yet to-day we have the most stupendi us war that" ever disgraced humanity. Our civilisation has broken down. The nation that claims to be the mest cultured is the one that has violated its pledged word ::nd has treated its -memics with the utmost, cruelty. It not only says it if tho most cultured, but it. ran claim that- i' has paid more attention to religious instruct inn than any other nation in the world. Religious instruction ir> compulsnry iu all the primary schools of Germany. Its claim to culture is well founded if cultv.r<> nwans mcrelv -acquirement of knowlodge, but something moio is- required f I-.sii knowledge. There must be oba.a-ter, or what the Greeks call "Ethos." from which our word " Ethics " is d"riv< d. The events of the Inst few dn;\s show tho nerd o.t enemies have o" that ; '■' i ; ng

| that should inspire humanity Here is a ! Christian-taught nation, the home of State | eompulsorv religious instruction, attaching [ unfortified towns and unarmed people, kili- | ing non-eomV.a'.ants. even childnm. while : the Japanese would not even attack a fortified town—Kia.,-rlnu--till it gave warning i to the inhabitants so that they might go : to shelter. What a contract? And the -lapane.se have a religion we call paganism. Neither culture nor ihe Christian religion 'has helped the Germans to act as righteous I men. Here is something for us to con!su!.t. If we arc to assess the- value of Gennni- educational systems by then' finite what, will we sa-yV

How then are we to help te inaugurate pence? Tt was long ago said by a philosopher lhat the, way to promote peace was ; for everyone to be peaceable. Was not I that a. "just observation? We can see wherein 'the Germans have gone wren-. Thev have acted on the assumption that "might" is ''right" They have striven ! and "are striving for " W-tet mncht " " World power." They do not desire to v-e:> humnniu injured. On the contrary, thev have convinced (honiselvee that ii ill" civilisation of the world is left- to tb.-ir control the world will be lvneiiiod. It is not to dc-troy the human race, out- it is to improve it that they have- .-et out in hteir -effort to rule th- univeise. What matteis to them the opiu: as or feelings of the p< op.'-rs of the nations they w.inl to ;-y,le over! 1? it not for their good they i.-n-o celled vast aMiiii.s and navies and -ivat induhtri-'-s"' Human rights, human cciir-cieiices. what an- they c.omp.'U'-d to the realisation -if their ideal'.' This is. their att-il-L'.de. and the end «iil be wuc ami an injurv to Europe lhat it will take a cnu.ry 'to retrieve. Now. do any oi us over ;te.:.t::iiesL liu.s seme attitude '<.• mm".! Jvocs tie "dium oe-.1-csia.slic " a\\-r Heal- t-> ;i ,- m! , and call lor vohinticiv, to do as lie"Uvcjseeis" a,ivise'.' -»ie there found amung.-t us people who third; a majority m;i\ <:von in the ivalui of religion <io v. ii.itit. likes, and til at to ride rov_hoh d over the ic-.lir.es of a. minority is ) ■ a:>--v. oi' !;y. not bl.uiK-woithv'r H the;v is a. community anywhere that uphold.'-, the id--i >!: at a' maj.'.rity ha - the light to dh latv t> a minority in U'iief, tiieie is no hrothern->od 11 ii-: L . ami tr.'.'iv «'ili !■■■ no en il p-c-ae-tl.eve. Our ideal should 1.-i' the perfr. t stele of which. Bt.be rt- Buchanan f-'m.'. and "it will no! be pcrtec. til! we get- also the perfect citi7.cn. 'J hero tan bo. no futh perfection without freedom—equal liberty to ell. If we penalise any class or any in dividual i-ccim: the opinion of tin- '-Jas.-; or per son is not that o! the mass, iil>or!\ has vanished. Theio must, of coins-.-, in ••■vrv society l;e restrictior s. '1 her<- musi l,e order, else we can pet no progress. No State can permit cm) to exist. Alain things must'be prohibited, and thai in the t . ~...- -... ti'.:•.. h.'.'iiv. But on matters of opinion, or oi' conscience it. must )■<■ recognised that there will ho ditP'r-eiU views in every community, and ilia: the Vninory may even he right. H.istoiy

•.,!,,-. ' u-', thai. the niineiity lias been as often right ae. tlio- majority ha.s been. J.-et t:.s g--t- in ou: ii.iii-.-is awi h.-arts the fooling of 1 rotherh'li'f 1 . .-iikl tl."ii we will not- fail to cmphiisiso the need of freedom .nr.il the rh.diU ot minorities. And if b,o>he)hond gets, 'trout;, peace will come, and it will s]>m><( tiirn'iL'hout tho world. "When one rr.odit-ates on the «»vi!s of tho world, tho misery in many coi:mri"s. the liirlinrss apparent in our surround inus, on the slow progress the ra<v has mad,'-. the hiii'.dnds ot thousand.- of y:-,u - it- has taken to rea.h -rour pr,.-"nt it.sit ion. and how many things we lark, we aie apt to be discouraged. But the light is bi'-.ak-ina, brotherhood i* growing, and the evils of tho past are slowly being lessoned. Just this week I was reading of a movement it-, that givat SoficloL'iciil Laboratory of the nations —the United States of America. It was about what had Jpppened in the town of Davenp-jrt, in tin* State of lowa. It is a. town that, has got- rid of both slums and backyards, as we know thorn. Wt have not many slums ia. 2v"ew Zealand,

! " | though in our karcer towns there am un« ' \ y ' «--u R ' lm idl our Loivns liave badc- , yauis \\hy, n was aslxd, in Davenport • should a backyard be more unlovely than | ( tho fjo„t 01 the liouw? And no s wr I could be lound. S„ t1,.. pco]J i 3 0 f rj aven . port-and it Im* about 70 GU inhabitants—- ! resolved to make all tluir sections uni;icruny h-eautnul. They could have flower and ve-eiaLJo -aniens however small their size. -Jney Parted a , - Contest." irizes were triven lor the must Jowly baokyaids. and s,,ou there entered fome 2,030 ; eoiniielitcrs, and thousands more deter- ■ m»uil to make attractive ilw.s* unsightly 1 precincts, thought ihey did not, enter for ; the prizes. And lo: tho backyards o£ 'Davenport are wiealhed m floivors, sweet peat, rose*, golden rod, nmniing glories, •etc., etc., ami useful vt-ictabh's arc there ]\'->- , I' l - -State Agricultural College iH'lpeo. I ,ie coih-o m>,.L Jectt.rerd and expert-, and ])!.•:,(y -,f stereo],licon slides t» -. show how tlov.-ei-K should look. And thfi ; content came oil, and Davenport was mado ja. ilower paid en. and the theatre wa* ; packed when the prize* were given, and ! i.'lip shenn oi Davenport bofoie and after imis "Beauty C,mest." B u t. above all, this mad<- for a hi-her civic life and for i>iotK-i1i,..,.J. ] (! Jhive.leek North, in : Jiawkos B:n. we have a H av e]oct North Society, which is a C reat. work witli jits beautifully-irot-up paper The Forei runner.' and it? literary and musical and .other c-nt-naiiiments And people TiaT« ; caught the Ilavclrck Society's spirit, and ' the town hjs ),. e.-,ii:e one of the most desirable places of rcs-H-mee in New Zealand. Why cannot, other towns emulate its ex- ; ample? Brotherhood and jva.ee have Won j promoted And it has lven asked, is :t . not better \ n z<l , r , I/v ahou. beautiful hadc- | yards than to run alter horse races, or Ion;; I lor alcohol, or even U. waste all our spare ! time at the nieture .shows?

Ihe however. I wish to emphasise is that such soi.'ir'CV.-. and .such a. civic iifo make for brotherhood and home and pwice. And i<-.ay we no: .tan such sock-tics in .-ill our low:..; to h.autifv our dwelling places, to give civic life higher ideals, ar.d, above, .-ill, to j-,:i-j-n,,t.0 peaoo and poodwill amongst men? The great movements of the. wo.-Jil have begun in small wjvs. J hey have grown. Suppose cveiw citv'or town had a li::guo tribunal for'the "universe? Let us show (La; civic peace is pnsfible. and then we may expect international peaco some day. (live our people beautiful surrounding* and heaMiv * pleasures, and peace will l> o promoted, ajid we will live on a higher ethical plane. In fact, it Mill lx> a, mode of moral culture that will transcend the teaching of ethics out. of hooks. .Some, people seem to think that you cannot live a. -ocd life unies.s you examine the origin of nnrn.ls. or the sanction of morals. Training is Letter than teaching, living (hf. |jj> ;. s ),. nIOT t a ]t; n;I about goodness. Where, yon have slums •2lid uniuvt ly surroundings you have unlovely practi.es. (ict, a. clean, beautiful town, where tempUitoin to do wrong is reduced to ;, minimum, and crime and misconduct will Ik" 1 rare. Would if. (hen. be wrong to saw that, if a man made a warden, in his baekvard he. would "he doing more for pea.,e than joining a, seciclv that eawrd bitterness and i!!-i,-elin:_' between neighbors hy insisting t;>at .."vevvone shall Iv.ve the saino v:"w of tiie universe. Beauty, Truth and ixivi? should be our motto f. r t!ie cming year.

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Bibliographic details

CHRISTMAS 1914, Evening Star, Issue 15688, 30 December 1914

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1,962

CHRISTMAS 1914 Evening Star, Issue 15688, 30 December 1914

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