Dr. Dewey was born in Illinois in 1861, educated at Williams College and Andover Theological Seminary, and entered the Congregational ministry in 1887. He has had two notable pastorates, seven years at the Church of the Pilgrims, Brooklyn, and nineteen years of distinguished service in Plymouth Church, Minneapolis, where he has built his life into a great, growing city both as preacher and as leader in many benign activities. Outside his great parish, he has been an attractive college and university preacher, and a wise counselor in the assemblies and enterprises of the Church.
The following Outlook for Peace, if it does not justify the hopes of ardent minds, does help us to see clearly the forces and difficulties with which we have to deal in our war against war. Born of long thought and many travels, its felicity of style and richness of illustration do not disguise how far we are from the “desired, delayed, inevitable time” when nation shall lift up sword against nation no more. The hope of the preacher rests in “the Lincoln spirit, the contagion of intelligent goodwill, quickened by genuine Christian faith”; and, truly, there is no other hope.
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:4.
Eight years from the Armistice, with taxes sliding downward, prosperity general, and no foreign menace darkening our horizon, we Americans are likely to be lulled into an undue feeling of security. A few months ago, as I was coming out of Africa, I saw at a hotel a good-looking, beaming young married woman, who, with a camping party, had just emerged from the jungle. She held in her arms two newly born lion cubs. They were soft, fuzzy, docile, and altogether cunning and fascinating; but goose flesh shivers ran over me when, in chipper confidence, she announced that she was taking the little creatures home to the children. A calm, wide-ranging survey of conditions abroad and at home today stirs one out of complacency because of certain basic human tendencies observable, which, however harmless they may seem and be at times, whenever they are not watched and restrained are sure to develop lionlike ferocities.
1. A phase of the world situation that looks toward a perpetuation of belligerencies is the increase of population. Roundly speaking, it is estimated that one hundred years ago there were between six and seven hundred million people in the world. The reckoning of today’s census is seventeen hundred million. There are students of the trend who assert that if the rate of increase in recent years continues, in one hundred and fifty or two hundred years America will have as little elbow space as now has India or China. Others anticipate checking influences, and they may turn out to be the truer prophets; but the tendencies, as they appear, do not lend much encouragement to their hopes. The inference from a century’s increase is that the globe is filling up. If this more somber conclusion is in accord with facts, in the not distant future room will indeed be at a premium. There will come that strain upon good nature which goes with personal congestions—the irritating reaction of the crowd upon itself. There will be a stress for food supplies; how to make the earth yield enough to sustain the multitude will be a crucial problem. There will be a sharp scrambling for raw materials, and a desperate racing for markets, and, of necessity, the struggle for existence will become more urgent and intense.
2. Another source of danger lies in racial differences. In one form or another race prejudice exists in almost every country, either as an internal divisive influence, or as an outward moving animosity, or as both, and the more seriously when there are marked unlikenesses of color.
While staying in one of London’s better hotels, I frequently noticed in the lobby an attractive black man. He was well dressed, good-looking, of genteel manner, and unobtrusive. One day I saw him talking familiarly with a white man who was neatly attired and appeared alert, intelligent, and businesslike. I was told that the latter was the black man’s secretary, which was less astonishing because the black man was said to be an African prince. Prince or ordinary citizen, where in America, in a first-class hotel, would a negro be so hospitably received upon equal terms with every other guest; and where in America would a substantial and capable white man so openly acknowledge even a distinguished negro as his chief?
It may be doubted whether racial antipathies are more acute anywhere in the world than they are in the United States. Japan does not resent the Exclusion Act so much as she does the assumption of superiority which she thinks the manner of Congress implies. We must better know how to behave fraternally upon a human level toward peoples of darker skin and unlike blood who are within our borders and beyond, or we shall make no end of trouble for ourselves and for the rest of the world.
3. Another danger lies in the spirit of nationalism which has been gaining force ever since the war closed. The war had the effect of opening the eyes of the nations, even of the little ones, to possibilities of national growth and influence. They were made more conscious of being in a world full of privileges which they might justly seek, and the result has been that each nation has become unprecedentedly solicitous concerning its assumed rights.
In Jerusalem one may see a vividly suggestive memorial of the temper of pre-war Germany. The Government Building, now occupied by British officials in the exercise of the mandate, was built by the Kaiser as an Oriental palace. Probably he was thinking of a day when he might frequently go to Palestine to make inspection of vast dominions over which he expected to rule. In the palace there are various indications of his forward gazing. On the walls of the royal chapel are painted religious scenes and figures. In the central area of the ceiling is a commanding portrayal of Christ, as is eminently fitting; but in the large adjacent space over the organ, and almost as conspicuously painted, appear the faces of the Emperor and Empress. We smile at what we think a sacrilegious presumption, and say, with some satisfaction, “How are the mighty fallen!” But is that spirit, which it was hoped the war would destroy, so different, after all, from a certain temper of nationalism which we see flaunting itself in many parts of the world today?
One of the leading statesmen of Italy, while in America not long since, gave an ardent eulogy of his country as it stands improved under the rule of Mussolini. He was not modest in exalting Italy’s contributions to the world; and he seemed to think that his country is not receiving at the hands of others the treatment to which her service and her importance entitle her. He took a fling at Great Britain for maintaining a strong bottleneck hold upon Gibraltar at one end of the Mediterranean and upon the Suez Canal at the other. He laid stress upon Italy’s need of opportunity for expansion, dwelt upon her overflowing population, and urged that other nations should be willing to open their doors to Italian colonists for temporary residence, allowing them to retain their native citizenship pending their return to the mother country. As, with considerable fervor, he presented his country’s claims, one could detect under his words the ominous implication that if Italy did not obtain justice from other nations, she might be expected vigorously to resent the wrong done, with resulting unhappy consequences to the offenders.
Is not something to be said for this statesman’s contention? Let us imagine our own nation in Italy’s position, or in the position of any nation that feels itself in any way oppressed or handicapped by advantages which other nations enjoy. Should we be less insistent? Is there anything in our sublime sense of importance akin to this brooding upon inequality of privilege? We think we are benignant and friendly as we accept the fact of America’s high place of power in the world; but if our power were to be questioned, or, more to the point, were to be curtailed by the prosperities and achievements of other nations, would our patriotism lose any of its altruism? Are we sure that we are wholly guiltless of pernicious self-exaltation, when one of our prominent, widely read daily papers displays as its slogan the toast given at a banquet by Commodore Decatur: “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right. But our country, right or wrong!” Is there not a finer, nobler patriotism, full-toned in its love to native land, in the declaration of William Lloyd Garrison: “Our country is the world; our countrymen are all mankind”?
4. Another source of danger is fear. Dark forebodings linger in the European mind. It could scarcely be otherwise. Under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris there is a memorial to French soldiers who died in the war. A flame is kept ever burning; and this literally living reminder prevents the heroic dead from being forgotten, and it also admonishes those who pause and reflect for a moment to be alert and watchful against old perils that now are only slumbering. Not yet have the nations that sustained the severest brunt of battle succeeded in trusting one another; and the mood of gloomy apprehension is not a sedative to warlike impulses.
On shipboard I chatted with a member of the English Parliament and a retired American army officer. It was disheartening, as these men discussed the international outlook, to hear both of them express the opinion that another war of vast proportions is inevitable and within the next thirty years. It was still more depressing to hear them predict that, in all likelihood, the initial phase of that struggle will be a conflict between Great Britain and the United States. With much earnestness I opposed my optimism to their pessimism. I cited the wholesome lessons learned from the last war, the manifest wider play of common sense in the world, the greater attractiveness of the ideals of brotherhood and their stronger appeal in the imaginations of the more intelligent peoples. They politely, but unhesitatingly, committed my brighter anticipations to the discard. They allowed that lofty conceptions of fraternity and peace are a pleasant and comforting dream, but held that the world is the same old world, and that the cherished ideals of peace are certain to be put to naught in the onset of the elemental human passions, once they are aroused. One can but think that those gentlemen were under the dominion of the matter of fact, which is so likely to becloud fine ethical hopes, and that such cynical suspicions as theirs produce the evil thing which they unwarrantably took to be inevitable. An eminent oculist declares that three-fourths of the afflictions of the eye are due to fear, and that if the patient can be saved from doleful apprehension, the disease, in the majority of instances, will disappear. A clearer, truer, and a dynamic, vision of fraternal possibilities will be had, when we are more ready to take the risk of our hope that human nature can and will behave more nobly.
What are some of the expedients to be relied upon in seeking the realization of optimistic expectations? First, mutual acquaintance. On the Plain of Shinar men in their selfish ambition built a tower toward heaven. Then their language was confounded and they were scattered abroad. What a source of ill-will and alienation the failure to understand the other man, nation or race is. A traveler in the Holy Land or Egypt has a difference with a cabman about fare. With vigorous gestures and rapid-fire Arabic the driver seeks to enforce his terms, and the traveler protests what seems an exorbitant charge. Neither man understands the other, and a happy settlement seems remote, when a stranger, familiar with both English and Arabic, intervenes; the misunderstanding is explained, and a satisfactory peace results. By interchanges of trade and travel, by all the varied and intimate means of disseminating ideas and information and extending personal contacts, the peoples of the earth are moving beyond their respective provincial boundaries, and their commingling and intercourse are leveling prejudice and other barriers that have sprung up from ignorance. In the Near East there is no more encouraging sight than educational institutions like Robert College, wherein, under American teachers, are gathered youth of many nations, including a large contingent from Turkey, who eat at the same table, sleep in the same dormitories, assemble in the same class-rooms, and contest with one another in friendly battles on gridirons, diamonds, and tennis courts. Who can begin to compute the pacifying effect upon that storm center wrought by the return to the respective countries of such a diverse but fraternized body of educated young men?
Second, reduction of armament. The less we see of uniformed men, fortresses, armored boats, military airplanes, and the like, the more quickly will the suggestions of war pass from the mind. Yet we must not imprudently do away with defenses. It is not yet wise to leave all doors unlocked. The police are still necessary as guardians of law and order. There cannot be complete disarmament, or any very great limitation of armament, excepting as there is corresponding security afforded; and if security is not to be found in military strength, it must be given some other reliance which is equally strong. That implies a resort to an International Court, to a League of Nations or some association corresponding to it, and to all other facilities for arbitration and coöperation by which the high ends of peace may be promoted. The hall in which the League of Nations assembles is somewhat unique in having nine tall windows interrupting the lengthwise wall space on either side, and nine similar windows at the far end of the room; and one has a sensation, as a meeting is in process, of being out of doors. This feature has given rise to a saying, current among the delegates, that the room is symbolic of the purpose of the League—to let in the light. Whatever the opinion as to the importance and usefulness of the League up to date, all will agree that there can be no adequate guarantee of peace until the light of intelligent, impartial judgment is shed upon vexing international problems.
Third, a growing recognition that the principle of the Golden Rule must supplant selfish competition. One of the most encouraging indications of the cooperation of the right-minded and right-hearted in the interests of peace, is the change that is going over the face of the British realm, as indicated by the substitution of the name, British Commonwealth of Nations, for the traditional and familiar appellation, British Empire. The substitution indicates that Great Britain is ceasing to be looked upon by her colonies, or dominions, and even by herself, as invested with any constraining authority over her associates, and is being thought of as but one member, albeit the most venerable and powerful member, of a great family, all of the members of which are equal in privilege and free and independent in working out their respective destinies. In this conception, while the bond is looser in one sense, it is stronger in another, because it is one, not of political compulsion, but of sympathy, mutual dependence, partnership in common interests, principles and ideals, and loyalty to the crown. The English king is shorn of political power, but throughout the range of the British dominions he inspires respect and affection because he is the personification of British unity.
If Great Britain should meditate going to war with any other nation or nations outside of the commonwealth family, she would know that she could not compel the colonies to go with her if they did not wish to do so; and it is not likely that she would venture upon any great conflict without assistance from one or more of them. It is hardly conceivable that any of them would wish to join with her in any war unless their own vital interests were manifestly at stake; and it is also inconceivable that all of the members of the family would ever make alliance with her against a common foe, unless the war commended itself to the judgment and conscience of all, and then, not until the last effort to avert a rupture had been tried.
While it is probable that there will be many occasions in the future when relations between Great Britain and America will be strained, we cannot believe that the disputants will ever reach the breaking point. Aside from other and deeper considerations, the relations between the United States and the various other members of the British Commonwealth would be a deterrent. Thus it is that we are contemplating a mighty alinement of English speaking peoples which have a controlling influence upon a vast number of other folk politically associated with them—a combination numbering, in all, hundreds of millions—and in this imposing host, sufficient to have steadying effect upon the rest of the world, we behold a powerful security for general and continuing peace.
Yet the hope which brightens in dwelling upon this picture will surely be eclipsed, unless we rely upon the only sure antidote to war. At the last session of the Institute of Politics, in Williamstown, all sorts of factors bearing upon international relations were discussed. While it was implied, no doubt, only an occasional reference was made to this most important expedient for the avoidance of war. Therefore, it was the more impressive when, near the close of a month of meetings, Sir Robert Borden, of Canada, arose, and, in words which came with greater force because of his long and useful service in affairs of state, said that he wished to remind the conference that all of these means and devices for the maintenance of peace which had been reviewed, needful as they might be, would be utterly ineffectual, if, with every move, the spiritual forces were not employed.
Religion often has been, and it still is, a source of strife. In Palestine Jews, Christians and Moslems have more difficulty in being amiable neighbors because, as they jealously guard the sacred places and cherish their attachments to the land itself, they are alienated in religious beliefs. France and Spain have conquered the Riffians. The wily and fierce tribesmen fought the more doggedly because of their Islamic hatred of the infidel. War has sometimes been waged in the name of Christianity. Yet, we know, that, however the truth in Jesus has been perverted and made to do service in aiding brutal human impulses, the gospel of the Nazarene, in its essence, is wholly fraternal.
Manifestly, then, our strategy is to exalt and promote Christ as the only guarantor of peace. A brilliant Chinaman says that half the troubles of this world are due to the stupid incapacity to put one’s self in another’s place. The Christian religion in its simplicity and purity transforms that stupid incapacity into wise capacity, and melting our prejudices and humbling our prides and warming our affections, it enables us to get on decently and happily with one another.
A few months ago an impressive and affecting event occurred in London. It was the funeral of the Earl of Ypres, more popularly known as General French. During the war some doubt was cast upon his efficiency as a commander, but now, whatever lack he had evinced was forgotten, and it was remembered only that he had been a great soldier, who, all in all, had done splendid service and deserved ungrudging tribute.
I took a strategic position near the north door of Westminster Abbey, in which the service had been held, that I might view the procession as it moved away from the church. First came the guards of honor, among them Hussars in brilliant uniforms and high fur chapeaux, battalions of infantry, and squads of French and Belgian soldiers. The gun carriage following was drawn by six noble horses, and upon the casket, wrapped in the Union Jack, rested a wreath and the baton and hat of the dead general. Walking behind or beside the carriage were distinguished honorary bearers, among whom were General Haig, Admiral Beatty, Lieutenant General Bernheim of the Belgian Army, and General Joffre. A touching spectacle was General French’s beautiful black charger, carrying empty saddle and boots, and bending low his graceful head as though he realized that he never would bear his beloved rider again. With stately, solemn rhythm the procession moved on, while massed bands played the funeral march. The way was lined with reverent, uncovered throngs.
I looked about and dwelt upon the exceeding appropriateness of the environment. Here was the Abbey, the memorial shrine of so many of England’s noble, useful servants. At its side, the lesser church, St. Margaret’s, in which, years before, I had heard, on a Fourth of July Sunday, Phillips Brooks plead for goodwill between England and America. Across the square, a little way to the right, was Westminster Hall, in which Charles I was condemned and Cromwell was made Protector. Extending alongside and beyond were the Houses of Parliament, symbol and scene of many struggles for that political freedom which America especially inherits, and which has blessed the whole earth. From the Tower of the House of Commons came the sound of chimes, followed by six rolling, thunderous strokes by Big Ben, as if the mighty clock were not only noting the passing of time and giving its salute to the victorious dead, but also were acclaiming the forward march of civilization. On the left of the street ahead was a statue of George Canning, and just beyond a memorial to those champions of human rights who induced Great Britain to abolish slavery throughout her possessions. But the monument that seemed to embody and express the higher significance of all other inanimate objects greeting the eye, was the statue most conspicuously near to the procession at the junction of the two streets, around which the procession turned. The heroic figure seemed just to have risen from the stone chair behind. It stood tall and angular. An ill-fitting frock coat hung open to the knees, and the tails fell loosely back. The hatless head was turned slightly downward, as if in the attitude of reverent reflection and attention. One could easily fancy that the inanimate figure underwent a transformation as one looked upon it. A living sympathy quivered in the face, as the heart within brooded over the sacrifice which the procession betokened, and rejoiced in the evidence acclaimed that the price given in earlier years for justice and right had not been paid in vain. The lips moved, and in pathetic, yearning tones spoke words, as apt for this occasion and for this time of ours as for the occasion and time when, six and a half decades before, they were uttered from the steps of the National Capitol at Washington to a throng in which were many faces lowering with passion and hatred: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break, our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Then a pause—and again the lips moved, and there came forth those other words, spoken after four years of war had done their desolating work: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in; … do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
How suggestive it all was! For may it not be said that of all the men of modern times Lincoln is most widely accepted as the one whose spirit clearly shows and surely promotes that democracy which is sane, workable, and satisfying, and is now craved as never before. But we must not forget that the spirit of Lincoln, in all its humaneness, absence of prejudice and narrowness, and abounding pity and goodwill, was not merely the native endowment of the man; it was surcharged throughout with his disciplined faith in God the universal Father and in Christ the Elder Brother of all mankind.
Therefore, of all the expedients for advancing the peace of the world, the one which is of first importance and at immediate command by all of us is that of displaying, in all our differences with others, more of the Lincoln spirit, that the contagion of intelligent goodwill quickened by genuine Christian faith may so extend that men of all nations and races and creeds shall neither make, nor learn, nor desire war any more.