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Chapter 33 -
A New Order of Patriotism
A new order of patriotism is coming into being and among us. What was at one time confined to the few brave, independent, advanced men, is now becoming common among the people.We are finding that the elements of justice and righteousness, fraternity and godliness, have a very direct relation to, or rather, that patriotism has a very direct relation to them. War -- war and the flag, were at one time supposed to be the only agents with which patriotism was linked. To hurrah for the flag and to be eager to go to the front, when the war bugles sounded, or were likely to sound, was for a long period a prevailing idea of patriotism. It may still be a way in which patriotism may be manifested.
The people are learning the real cause of many wars, indeed the great majority of them -- the bull-headedness or pig-headedness, the incapacity on the part of those having to do with affairs; and again, the throwing of an entire nation into war by large and powerful though unscrupulous financial interests solely for gain. These two agents are responsible for the great bulk, indeed for nine out of every ten, of all modern wars, even as they have been for all time past. Men are beginning to realize that instead of having anything to do with this type of war, patriotism lies in refusing absolutely to aid or abet it and in using one's influence in a similar way among one's neighbours more blunt and with less power of discernment.
When we reach a point where the large body of citizens see to it that these men and their agents -- for the large financial interests of the unscrupulous type almost invariably work through agents many of whom they place or have the people place in public positions -- when, I repeat, the larger body of citizens see to it that these men and their agents are kept out of public office and relegate them to the subordinate place where they rightly belong, then we will witness the full birth of an entirely new and a higher order of patriotism that is soon to be dominant among us.
The highest patriotism that I know is that which impels a man to be honest, kind, hence thoughtful in all his business relations and in his daily life; that impels him to the primary and to give attention to those features of our political institutions that are of even greater consequence than his casting his vote on election day; that impels him to think and to be discriminating in his thought; that enables him to be not afraid to point out and denounce the pure self-seeker and his demagogic ways, be he in public life, in the ranks of high standing financiers, or in the ranks of organized labour, or in the ranks of the common life.
It is this patriotism in the common life that is of the high quality. Men who are industrious and honest in their work; who are faithful to whatever tasks are imposed upon them; who are as eager to give justice as to demand it; who are working industriously and intelligently in order to take care of themselves and those dependent upon them, and thus remain self-supporting members of the community; who remain brave and sweet in their natures and who abide always in faith in face of the hard or uncertain times that come at some time or another and in some form or another into the lives of everyone of us; who are jealous of their country's honour, and of the administration of its internal affairs, for in the life of the nation as in the life of the individual, all life is from within out, and as is the inner so always will be the outer. These, I repeat, are the men and these are the conditions that are giving birth to that new and that higher order of patriotism that is now coming among us, and that is to take captive the hearts of men.
That wars in the past have been, and even at the present time are too frequent, all thinking men and women are agreed. That they are in the great majority of cases entirely inexcusable, and that there is and should be very little use for military forces if any, outside of purposes of defence , the highest and most intelligent portion of our citizenship thoroughly believes. And so far as effectiveness is concerned it has been proven time and again, that a citizen soldiery is the finest in the world. Neither vast bodies of men drawn off from creative and productive enterprises and made into a professional soldier class, nor bodies of hirelings, but men who are citizens of intelligence and training, and who stand with the ear ready for the call to arms when there is just cause for their hearing this call, such are the intelligent, such are the brave and the daring, such are the most effective.
Men will not fight effectively for the little price in money they are paid. They will not fight effectively for the glory of another, nor will they fight effectively for a mere tract of land. But where homes are and institutions that they love and revere and care for, then men will fight with all that triumphant intelligence and all that indomitable daring that it is possible to call forth. With a citizen soldiery ready at the just moment to come from the mine, the mill, the counting-house, the farm, thousands of thousands or millions strong, why should there be a vast professional soldiery, a great non-producing class kept primarily for the glory and to do the bidding of a ruling class, but supported almost entirely by the great common people, that is true of the foolhardy military systems of various European countries today?
So far then as the soldiery of a nation is concerned, let the interests of all the people be equally taken care of, let there be institutions founded upon justice, upon equal opportunities for all and special privileges for no man, let there be homes and sentiment encircling these homes, and the keeping up of a large military system becomes but a fool's dream. There will come from such a people a citizen soldiery more intelligent, more brave and determined, and therefore more effective, than can ever come from any professional fighting class, and at a cost not a hundredth part as great.
Take sentiment from the battle-field and you take its chief source of heroism away. The people of homes and of just institutions are a people of sentiment. Upon every cartridge-box and upon every rifle and upon every field piece of such a soldiery the word "Invincible" could most rightly be stamped.
(from: In the Fire of the Heart)
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