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The Evening Star MONDAY, JANUARY 4, 1915., Issue 15691, 4 January 1915
The Evening Star MONDAY, JANUARY 4, 1915.
Thep.e is not one among us who has not felt the utter incongruity Right Shall of our customs at this Triumph season. At ChristmasOver tide wo were enjoined to Might, by aside, our quarrels and strife, to bury our resentments, to let our sympathies go out to all humankind, and to realise our kinship with the poor end needy of every nation. Admirable precept. But how can it be put into practice when at this very hour the British Empire is principally engaged in fierce battle with a people who are close akin to us in blood and faith? We are putting forth all our ingenuity, exerting all our strength and spending our treasure in unparalleled volume iu trying to kill and maim our brother man. It eeerns as if His Satanio Majesty had broken loose and was having it pretty much his own way. WTien one thinks of all the suffering, the carnage, the hatreds, the passions, and the cruelty that have been and are still raging on tho Plains of FJarders at this moment, imagination is baffled, tho heart grows sick, and our summer skies are over- j clouded, while man's faith in the results: of "culture" is rudely shaken. There is, indeed, a grievous burden on tho spirits of everyone at this hour of writing. It is the purpose of this article t<>i suggest to the philosophic mind a point of view which may lighten the burden somewhat. We do not profess to remove it, to answer every question, or to dispel every difficulty which the war raises for our thought. The war presents the ancient problems of ignorance and sin and suffering in an acute form, problems which have not been solved and are not to be solved under the conditions of life in this planet. But while the burden remains there may be considerations which, make it easier to bear, and it is these we seek. Let ns ask: What are the causes of the present gigantic conflict? That convenient ignoramus the man in the street will answer gibiy enough. He will tell us that the murder at Serajevo of the Archdukt>, who was heir apparent of the Austrian Throne, was the beginning of all the mischief. Or he will remind us of tho Servian intrigues and plots against the Austrian monarchy. He will go over the whole crooked story of German diplomacy in the end of July and the first days of August. He will point to the German violation of Belgian neutrality. All these things played their part, no doubt; but they were rather of the nature of occasions and incidents than the real causes of the war. The causes of great wars do not lio on the surface. It is clear now that Germany desired war, prepared for it, planned it, determined upon it, quite apart from and independently of tho Serajevo assassination. It was with her a piece of policy, a step which she deemed necessary for her own well-being and development. That was the view freely expressed by the ruling classes in the Empire, taught to and accepted by tho people. We can hardly believe that tho German people actually desired war-they must have been too keenly alive to their industrial and commercial interests; but at all events they acquiesced in the policy. When war was "declared all classes in the Empire supported it, the Socialists them« selves asserting its necessity. Why this desire for and acquiescence in so awful a procedure? We must remember that the Germans regard themj selves as tho finest people in the world. j They believe in themselves. They are convinced that their institutions are better than those of any other nation; and that the spread of their culture, their power, and their leadership would ba a boon to the whole human race. Naturally we differ from them. We believe in our own culture, our own type of character, our own institutions; we believe that it is better for mankind that the white man a burden should rest on our shoulders than on any others. But the German has his own point of view; and it is well that we should understand it. He is not without grounds for it either. He nifty well point to the intellectual achievements of his
been the teachers of the world for a century and more. In science they have filled a foremost place. Their literature boasts of Goethe and Schiller and Heuio, and many another noble names. In music they have given us Bach and Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, Schumann and Wagner. Moreover, the industrial and commercial progress of the Empire during the last two generations has been phenomenal. At tho beginning of the nineteenth century the Germans were an agricultural people. Over 80 per cent, of the population was engaged in agricultural pursuits. To-day the population has grown enormously—it is now about 65,000,000 —and less than 30 per cent, is engaged in agriculture. The Germans have brought all their wonderful faculty of organisation to bear upon their manufacturing system. They have manifested the greatest enterprise in the extension of their trade. It is a tribute to the extent of their progress that they have kindled fear and jealousy in the breasts of their British competitors. The German educational system is acknowledged to be in many respects tho finest in tli9 world. Especially in technical education they ! have led tho way. But it is in their political institutions that we observe their most pronounced characteristics, and trace the working of those ideals which arc most divergent from our own. Germany is the most thoroughly governed country on earth. Whether we have regard to their central or to their municipal and local administration, we see a system of organisation and control at which we can only wonder. Thoroughness, efficiency are their watchwords. That the Government should have the consent of the people is in their eyes immaterial. The rulers rule; the people are content to be ruled. To them it seems the State is more than the individual. The individual must submit to have the whole of his life ordered for him. There is little in Germany of what we know of freedom. Freedom, either of speech or of action, remains to the German a secondary consideration. We of British stock prize freedom above all things. We submit to be governed, because law and order arc a necessity for life in any community; but wo want as little government and as much personal liberty as possible. Wo demand the utmost possible liberty to think what we like, to say what we like, to do what we like. We are always jealous of State interference, and if there is to be government at all, we demand that it shall be government by the people for the people. Tho Germans believe that their institutions are the. best, because they are logically compact, efficient, and thorough, and they deem it needful and right that the life of the citizen should be constrained on every hand for the good of the State. We believe that our institutions, with all their defects and compromises, aro still the best, because we hold that liberty is the rightful inheritance of every man, and not to be curtailed one whit beyond what is absolutely necessary. The Germans, knowing their strength as a nation, are willing and eager to spread their institutions over all the "world. They believe that it would be for the world's good that they should. But they find us, who have had the start of them, already busy spreading the liberty we value everywhere, and unwilling to surrender our task.
That is why we are at war. That is the ultimate cause and ground of the war. lb is a conflict of principles, a conflict of ideals. Given two great nations, full of vitality, each capable of expansion, -with different ideals in which they fervently believe, and sooner or later a conflict is inevitable. Hero is the rivalry and clash of great moral and spiritual forces, of which no one can say that the one is good and the other is bad. Government is good ; law and order and organisation are, beneficent. Freedom, too, is good, and essential. The question is os to their relative values and the ratio between them. Shall wo make liberty wholly subservient to order, or shal hve preserve liberty at all costs? It e.eems as if God, in His inscrutable -wisdom, saw best to let men fight it out. In Nature forces that aro themselves as mighty as they are. beneficent come into conflict and produce terrific cataclysms. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tidal waves, and the like spread death and destruction over great tracts of the inhabitable earth. We are staggered at such events, it is true ; but thoso of us who believo in God are still able to believe in His wisdom and goodness. In the spiritual sphere, the sphere of human life and thought and fooling and aim, great, forces, principles, ideals, that arc, each in itself, worthy of all admiration, do likewise come into conflict. The result is war, and in our day tho most tremendous war the world has ever known. We admit the mystery, but wo maintain our confidence in a. beneficent Will overruling all. The titanic forces of the physical universe contending with each other through the ages have produced a world fair to see, fertile and fit for habitation by the eons cf men. We may well believe that the. titanic forces of the spiritual realm will work through their conflict to some gracious issue. Let us leave it in God's hands, and trust that somehow good will be the final goal of ill. Meanwhile wo renew and cherish our Chrisunas faith. The war will pass; it belongs to the things that have an end. But the love of God endureth for ever.
The Evening Star MONDAY, JANUARY 4, 1915., Issue 15691, 4 January 1915
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