The President's Message: A Symposium

From the January 20, 1939, Issue

THE PRESIDENT’S annual message to Congress this year was of such interest and importance that THE COMMONWEAL has sounded out a group of American Catholic observers, many of them contributing editors. We quote their replies.

Religion

By FAR the most radically important thing said by President Roosevelt in his address on the state of the Union was what he had to say concerning religion as the primal, indeed the unique source of human liberties and, hence, of the highest values associated with our form of government. Indeed, I think it the most important thing said by any secular statesman in modern times. It differed essentially, it seems to me, from the pious platitudes and conventional appeals to religious sentiment used by so many politicians and publicists, but really having little save a purely sentimental relation to the realities of government or economics. So far as my own newspaper reading shows, among the commentators only Walter Lippmann and Dorothy Thompson recognized the high significance of the President's utterance. But I think that its recognition as an epoch-marking public paper will come, for I believe that a great part of our population, Protestants, Jews and Catholics, and many upholders of the western traditions of society—which depend upon the truth proclaimed so admirably by Mr. Roosevelt for their preservation—are uniting in a common consciousness of the practical value of what too long has been relegated to private as distinct from public life and interests.

MICHAEL WILLIAMS.

THERE is one aspect of President Roosevelt's message to Congress which, in view of the discussion engendered by other salient points, is apt to be overlooked. This was his ringing assertion regarding America's determination to preserve its essential freedoms and, in particular, that which guarantees freedom of worship. Again, the President indicated the importance of America continuing to be a God-loving people. In this he aligned himself with those forces which, now scattered though they may be, are increasing in influence and effectiveness, and which, emphasizing that man's happiness cannot lie in material things, must be based on faith in God.
Our people today are becoming more and more alert to the true meaning of the world's ideological struggle and all the factors involved therein. They are more rapidly appreciating the fact that dictatorships of alike are basically alike in their attempt not to wean but to tear their subjects away from God. No dictatorship can survive if those under it can appeal to an Authority which is supreme. This is the only explanation for the totalitarian governments' first attack on religion. And whereas we are not immediately threatened with such a course in this country, one of the first precautions which Americans must take is that of vigilance. Hence, it was a very happy circumstance which led the President to embody such an assertion of liberty in an address which went beyond an American to a world audience.

JOHN GILLAND BRUNINI,                                                                                                                         
Secretary, Temple of Religion, N. Y. World's Fair.

"THE DEFENSE of religion, of democracy and of good faith among nations is all the same fight. . . . God-fearing democracies which observe the sanctity of treaties and good faith . . . cannot safely be indifferent to international lawlessness anywhere." To some people, though apparently not to American press commentators in general or to Mr. Chamberlain and his controlled radio, this is the kernel of the most significant portion of the President's message of January 4. For in these phrases, and in the context, where religion is declared to be "the source of . . . democracy  and international good faith," the President not only strikes at the heart of totalitarian philosophy, but reclaims for this country, after twenty years, the moral leadership which Woodrow Wilson gave to it. Moreover, this linking of religion and philosophy to politics, so lacking in recent times, is in line with the conclusion of such great experts on government as Morley and Bryce that "the building up of the inward man is the problem of problems." If really followed out, in both foreign and domestic policy, it would offer the best possible basis for that "united patriotism" which is essential to the nation's strength.

H. C. F. BELL,                                                                                                                               Professor of History.

THE PRESIDENT’S theology in regard to the relationship of religion and democracy seems surer and sounder than his political economy.  His little sermon on belief in God as the basis of the rights of man could have been preached in a Catholic pulpit. In effect he says, "Now there remain these three, religion, democracy, international good faith, and the greatest of these is religion." He declares that without religion the other two of the "three institutions indispensable to Americans" could not exist. It is refreshing to hear such a challenge to the totalitarian dogma that the State is absolute, infinite and a law unto itself.

The totalitarian formula, "Nothing outside the State," seems to connote "Nothing above the State." If the State is subject to no Higher Power, if it knows no "Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not," the door is wide open to Caesarism, and Caesarism recognizes no "inalienable" rights of the citizen.
These things are trite in our theology, but it is good that the President has proclaimed them as if they were startling new discoveries. They are not new; they should not be startling, but they are vastly important.

REV. JAMES M. GILLIS, C.S.P.,                                                                                                   Editor, The Catholic World. 

THE MESSAGE which President Roosevelt read before Congress on January 4 is important because of its emphasis on the fundamental necessity of religion. It is easy to be satisfied with generalities when opinions are so diverse that almost any definite stand on fundamentals is certain to offend someone, and the message is inspiring simply because it omits such generalities. It states unequivocally that the religion of the individual is the basis of a just society. It seems evident that we cannot have the kind of society we want until each individual recognizes his personal dependence on God and realizes that he is bound to respect his neighbor because his neighbor is also a child of God—but such a statement is not often made by heads of governments.
Right now there is division of opinion over many of the President's proposals. We do not all see alike, but we certainly want to remain free to express our different opinions. That is why this re-emphasize on the importance of religion for each of us will be of more far-reaching importance than any suggested ways or means of reform, for it reminds us that our legitimate desire for freedom can only be fulfilled provided our diversities rest on a common foundation of mutual respect.

WILLIAM M. AGAR,                                                                                                                       Headmaster, Newman School.

MUCH in the President's message will be fiercely debated.  But it is to be hoped that his statement of the basic relation of religion to our form of democracy will be accepted for the clarifying and supremely important truth that it is.  It is also to be hoped that those of us who already accept it will not be so absorbed in its possible effect on those who do not, as to neglect our own first, vital connection with it. For that a truth emerging so surely and irresistibly in the long view of history, is so often obscured in the short view, is a tragedy for which believers themselves must take their share of blame. Christians outside the democratic dispensation may not realize that, though the Church underwrites no one policy, to the extent that democracy follows and embodies in the secular field those affirmations of the worth of man which she makes first in the spiritual, it is her director and co­worker. With such graver results, Christians inside may neglect, in selfishness or apathy, those very objectives which their government derives from their religion. The President's words, placing the truth in the exciting context of world politics, should furnish a new reminder to our private consciences.

MARY KOLARS,                                                                                                                           Editor, St. Anthony Guild Press.

THAT no man is fit to be the judge of his own cause is a cardinal principle in every society which pretends to vindicate private rights by means not of force but of reason. Disputants are disabled by self-interest to judge the right where their own lives, liberties and property are in issue. For principles of decision, disputants themselves look to their separate inclinations. On the contrary, a disinterested person, a judge, looks for rules of decision to the tenets of universal reason, as concreted in statute and authority. When he delivers judgment he implicitly says: "Through me speak not my own passions, inclinations or interests. All non-rational forces have been silenced. In the order of eternal and universal justice I resolve this dispute thus."

Eternal and universal justice is a mockery if there be no God. On such a mad assumption eternal and universal justice would be less substantial than a perfumed wind. All profound implications contained in the judiciary would become manifest shams. The ideal of judgment would then become as contemptible as some academic critics of the judiciary in this country hold it to be and logically, every political system would in time become as openly partisan, as it now is in totalitarian states abroad.

The definitive corruption in principle or in fact of a judiciary based on a philosophy of godlessness is a reproduction in miniature of the corruption which this same godlessness inexorably engenders on an enormous scale in the entire life of a whole nation expressing itself politically through its legislative, administrative and executive officers. This godlessness, in the nature of things, must stir up class against class and nation against nation. Individuals must cease to count as centers of infinite value. The working out of life as a struggle between sleepless relentless savages may be gradual but it cannot be prevented because if there be no God there is nothing but an ephemeral sentimentalism or treacherous fear to limit the appetites that set men at one another's throats. God's existence and God's Law immanent in human society are the sole source, justification and explanation of moral facts. "Deny God," Lord Acton said, "and whole orders of deeper morality fall to the ground."

President Roosevelt has shown the people of this nation and of the whole world the truly remarkable penetration of his thought and the exquisitely sound perceptiveness with which he is endowed by stating clearly the relation of filiation between religion, democracy and international good-will. His magnificent speech on the state of the nation may hereafter prove the Roosevelt equivalent for the "Gettysburg Address."

An organic spiritual society in this country is feasible only on condition that the thought expressed by the President captures both our hearts and our minds.

JAMES N. VAUGHAN,
Secretary to Mr. Surrogate Delehanty, New York.

IN HIS message to the 76th Congress, President Roosevelt spoke not only for the nation but for the whole of mankind. For humanity today is at the cross­ways: either backward into the night of pagan barbarism wherein God and man are plunged into slavery; or forward to the realization of man's dignity on every plane of his existence, spiritual as well as material. The fulfilment of man's essence is the deepest meaning of democracy.

And democracy, as the President pointed out, has its source in religion.
This same truth was recently expressed by Pope Pius XI in his Apostolic Letter of October 12, 1938, to the American  hierarchy: "Christian teaching  alone, in  its  majestic integrity,  can  give  full  meaning  and  compelling  motive to the demand for human rights and liberties because it alone gives worth  and  dignity to human personality. In consequence of his high conception of the nature and gifts of man,  the  Catholic is necessarily  the champion of true human rights and the defender of true human liberties; it is in the name of God Himself that he cries out against any civic philosophy which would degrade man to  the position of a soulless pawn in a sordid game of power and prestige, or would banish him from  membership in the human family ; it is in the same Holy Name that he opposes any social philosophy which would regard  man as a mere chattel in the commercial competition for profit,  or would set him  at the throat of his fellows in a blind, brutish class struggle for existence."

Catholics who are nourished by the source itself of democracy and international good faith should be in the forefront in working for man's rights and liberties. With the President we can say, "To us much is given, more is expected." There are some today who are muddying the source itself with national and race hatreds, and by so doing they are not only harming religion but democracy and international good faith.

EMMANUEL CHAPMAN,                                                                                                                 Professor of Philosophy.

THE PRESIDENT'S  message at the opening of the 76th Congress is not only theoretically based on sound philosophical principles but is also practically in accord, in the opinion of this writer, with the deepest moral aspirations of all men. It is and, if I may say so, will remain a manifesto of political theory comparable in significance to those upon which our political structure has rested for the past century and a half. In calling our attention to the underlying foundations upon which our American form of government stands and in insisting upon their preservation as the only guarantee of our political rights President Roosevelt has shown himself not only to be the statesman which indisputably he is but also a thinker whose range of vision extends beyond the limits of social and political exigencies.

In his attack on the dictators he went to the very metaphysical roots of the question of human rights and exposed in simple and straight-forward terms the false philosophy which has given   rise to their respective opportunisms. Knowing as he does the psychology of the American people as a whole and how inimical such a mind is to the reception of these ideologies, at any rate in their foreign dress, he made it clear, nevertheless, that he was well aware of the peril in which western civilization will find itself unless practical measures are taken to stem the tide of brute force which they engender. A political philosophy  based on the idea that "Might is right" cannot  endure but history has shown, if  rational  argument does not convince, that it can last  long enough to undo what centuries of constructive thought and effort have built. The plain truth of the matter is that man is a rational animal whether or not he will admit it in his theoretic philosophy. As such his thinking is bound to guide him in his actions. When the sound rational and common-sense realism of Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas was abandoned in modern times in favor of idealistic dialectic, communism, fascism, and Nazism, if not consciously implied, were actually in embryo.

We would do well in this connection to reconsider the comments of Walter Lippmann on the President's address in the Herald Tribune of January 7. The message, he says, "expresses a philosophy, as new to the President as it is new to the world that heard it, a philosophy which formulates in outline the positive answer of the West to the forces, which threatens to destroy the western world."

DANIEL C. WALSH,                                                                                                                       Professor of Philosophy.

IN THOSE few short sentences in which the President reminded us that religion must be the source of democracy and international peace, the President went to the very heart of the troubles that vex the world today. I agree with Walter Lippmann that those words are "an event in modern history comparable, so to speak, with the Communist manifesto of 1848. For in that manifesto, there were anticipated and propounded the principal ideas which have been dissolving the structure of western society; this message contains within it, by implication and in embryo, the outline of that reconstruction in their moral philosophy which the democracies must undertake if they are to survive."

The President is to be congratulated in that he has so clearly envisioned and so plainly stated this most fundamental truth, at the time when it is most needed.

THOMAS F. WOODLOCK,                                                                                                             Contributing Editor, Wall Street Journal.

Democracy

THERE is much to criticize in the President's message; there is even much that may give rise to justifiable suspicions as to his future national and international intentions. But perhaps we may pardon this sort of thing in what remains basically a politically conditioned document. In my opinion the best part of the message is that which clearly states one of the primary tasks of this nation: the attainment of national security and prosperity through free and democratic procedures. Oppressive and dictatorial regimes indeed seem to have solved for themselves the problem of coordinating their various resources with a view to producing the most efficient possible results. But this has been done, as Mr. Roosevelt recognizes, by a materialistic inversion of values. Internal freedom and international justice have been disregarded to an extent which cannot be morally defended. Against these methods, the President holds that material well-being can be achieved in this country by other means. The test and task of democratic institutions in America are clearly set forth: to procure genuine national prosperity, not by denying spiritual values but by reaffirming the great principles, by exemplifying in action the primacy of the spiritual values of freedom and justice, which are the only sound basis for improvement of all phases of our national life.

WILLIAM O'MEARA,                                                                                                                     Professor of Philosophy.

THE PRESIDENT'S message to Congress swept over the nation and the world like a draft of fresh air into a caved-in mine. Hence, the praise bestowed by the press on its statement of principles. Catholics saw in them their convictions powerfully proclaimed: "The defense of religion, of democracy, and of good faith is all the same fight. To save one we must make up our mind to save all."

But how is religion to be saved? Catholics have steadfastly maintained their right and their duty to do it through their schools, with a consequent annual gift to the nation of over $135,000,000. What do others propose to do in the same necessary way?

As to economic ills, their cure through piling-up debts remains dubious, as the President himself believed a few years ago. But if he used his eloquence to make business men realize that their own advantage is in social justice, and assured them that the government earnestly wishes to cooperate with them to stimulate private enterprise ethically conceived, the resulting confidence could work wonders.

To save religion, we must teach religion. To shame despotisms, democracy must become efficient through the mutual good-will and united effort of government, capital and labor.

LOUIS J. A. MERCIER,                                                                                                                   Professor of French and Author.

THE WHOLE world is indebted to Mr. Roosevelt for his eloquent and courageous affirmation of basic relationships between religion, democracy and international good faith. Too long has our own national tradition been infected without challenge by our Founding Fathers' Deistic suspicion of organized religion. And too long have nations depended upon "scraps of paper" to sustain international good faith. Neither of these attitudes has been found sufficient to guarantee either the  minimal requirements of human  freedom in society, or peace and prosperous commerce between nations. The day of reckoning for America has been mercifully postponed but fortunate we are in having a leader and prophet to warn us of the handwriting on the wall.

It remains to be seen what implementation will be given the President's high message. We must confess that its second part seemed to be confined to tinkering with the same old pot. Of course, we recognize that there must be short-range as well as long-range objectives. In due course, we may be provided with a long-range program, some parts of which, to be sure, may be outside the purview of the federal government. As essential points in such a program we see restoration of religious instruction to our public schools; the fostering of state-supported confessional schools to parallel our Catholic school system to be likewise supported by the state; the exchange of diplomatic representatives between the United States and Vatican City as part of a plan to ensure an important place for the Holy See at the council tables of the nations. The Papacy is uniquely situated in these times to provide disinterested God-fearing counsel, since it is a sovereign state with practically no economic interests.

HARRY MCNEILL,                                                                                                                         Professor of Psychology.

SOME parts of the President's three messages of last week must awaken echoes of pleasure in American consciences. It is good to see religion credited with its proper place and function as first source of the two other ideals to be defended by America, democracy, and good faith among nations. Sympathy must be general for the thesis that a citizenry happily employed to capacity and a larger national income is excellent means for keeping these ideals valued.

Other parts of the messages give rise to doubt, confusion and controversy. Historically speaking, the interrela¬tion of democratic governments, freedom of religion and fulfilment of international obligations is by no means as close as the annual message might seem to imply.

But most of the confusion rises over the budget and relief messages, and over the exact direction of foreign policy. The undercurrent of alarm in the annual message can be variously construed as a reflection of the November elections, as preparation of the voters for a third term campaign, or as a sincere and earnest statement of the necessity for internal unity in defense of traditional ideals against an increase of the forces in other lands opposed to them. It is somewhat difficult to reconcile the idea of good faith in government with either the quarrel over which politicians shall administer relief, or the seeming abandonment of any idea of even an attempt to balance the budget for the remainder of the President's term. References to capital "prepared for peace or war," and to the New Deal as a period of extensive preparedness, cause the citizen to ask whether the asserted economic improvement be not a product of "rearmament," whether all of the "rearmament" be necessary and whether this "rearmament" be not really a widespread preparation for an expected war. The economic boycott against "aggressors," the possibility of defining "aggression" and the modification of neutrality legislation are specters raised again to "haunt" congressmen.

ELIZABETH M. LYNSKEY,
Catholic Association for International Peace.

NO CATHOLIC—in fact, no religious person of any faith could fail to be impressed by the spotlight President Roosevelt threw upon religion in his first message to Congress last week. If, as he pointed out, it is the source and foundation of democracy and of international good faith, its preservation becomes the primary end of good government and good citizens.
American Catholics might well thank God that in a country as intensely non-Catholic and non-religious as the United States such a sound concept should exist in the mind of our President—if nowhere else.

At any rate, it is a concept right down the alley of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists, which is certainly dedicated to the ordering of the American labor movement along lines consistent with man's final destiny, which is God.

To reach this ordering we must build a sound structure of industrial democracy. The Wagner Act has been a good beginning to the government's share in this job. But we could wish that the President  had  mentioned  the crying need for capital and labor to get together in each industry and profession to work out the permanent machinery  and  technique of a sensible self-government—à  la papal encyclicals.

JOHN CORT,                                                                                                                                 Executive Secretary, A.C.T.U.

Budget

THE MOST fundamental part of the message is contained and implied in the President's references to religion, democracy and international good faith. The President did not overstress the value and far-reaching influence of these institutions.

The most immediately important statement in the message was the proposal to continue government spending in order to stimulate business and prevent a reversal of the recent upward trend.  This proposal is absolutely sound economically, ethically and politically. As the President said, "We have learned that it is unsafe to make abrupt reductions at any time in our net expenditure program." We have learned that from the deplorable effects which followed the President's curtailment of the spending program in the latter part of the year 1936 and the early part of the year 1937.

Despite all bluffing about balancing the budget, Congress will not run the risk of checking the present business upturn by any serious reduction in federal spending. Nor will it greatly curtail expenditures for the relief of the unemployed.

RT. REV. JOHN A. RYAN,                                                                                                               Director, Social Action Department, N.C.W.C.

IN A REPUBLIC indifference to public affairs on the part of the citizenry constitutes a danger for which a sound remedy is dynamic executive leadership. Whether one is a critic or friend of Mr. Roosevelt one must admit that he has fixed the interest of the people upon their government through effective use of the rostrum and the microphone. His message before the new Congress was one of his most successful efforts. On domestic affairs he stands by his spending program and, to my way of thinking, does well in challenging the economy champions to name specifically their economies. There is scarcely a corporal's guard in Congress that is agreed on where economy should begin or end. On foreign affairs his pronouncements unquestionably reflected American public opinion. It is high time that someone in authority joins the Supreme Pontiff in condemnation of the system under which modern international marauders live, move, and have their being.  It should, too, be a matter of no little satisfaction to Catholics that the executive of the most powerful state in the world recognizes the importance of religion as the foundation of ordered domestic and international civilization. Unfortunately, we are called to arm, but can anyone who knows the world situation today deny the necessity for it?

JEROME G. KERWIN,                                                                                                                   Professor of Political Science.

EACH one of President Roosevelt's messages to Congress contains a very imaginative new viewpoint. The idea of internal preparedness and the idea of budgeting for national capital outlay are destined to make history. They both point toward a deeper appreciation of the democracy which is in the making in this country.

Whether we agree with the Chief Executive's contention that the last six years constitute an unprecedented advance toward internal preparedness, there can be no doubt that in a democracy the mutual affection and loyalty of the whole people constitute the decisive factor where support cannot be forced. It must be everyone's fervent hope that this internal preparedness is not lost sight of in the agitation over armament. More particularly must we beware lest essential elements in our present social policies be sacrificed in order to spend on purely military preparedness? Everyone will concede the importance of the latter; but should we not heed the warning of what has happened to England and France? There were plenty of arms but internal preparedness was lacking in the hour of need.

Budgeting for capital outlay has become a crying need. The development of recent years has obliged the government to step into the breach left by a crumbling private capital structure. It is absurd that we should expect to finance such capital outlays by current income; no large business enterprise can or does do this. We talk about balancing the budget without knowing what our budget actually is; how much goes into permanent improvements to be amortized over a period of years. Budgeting for capital outlay is a happy phrase describing the common task in which Congress, the President and the people are jointly engaged in planning for the future of our country.

CARL J. FRIEDRICH,                                                                                                                     Professor of Government.

THE PRESIDENT'S splendid reassertion of the religious source of democratic power is matched only by his unhappy failure to attack another enemy debt.

There is no doubt about it that a continual piling up of indebtedness, either public or private or combined, and of "investment" based on debt, is putting the whole capitalistic system more and more on a "margin" basis, with the perils that are inherent in a margin system of any kind. If a man tells you he can only make his everlasting fortune by speculating on a margin, you know just about where he will end up. If the only way we can become an eighty billion dollar country is by increasing our debt (or "margin") operations, then we might as well collapse now as later.

The only real salvation for capitalism, and the only way to become permanently an eighty billion dollar country, lies in more and more equity investment, more ownership, and more "risks" and less dictatorship of debt. The job of government should be to encourage the creation of conditions favorable to this equity, or debtless, investment. But the head of our government is not yet a champion of this most democratic of good works. And good works we need, as well as flaming faith!

R. DANA SKINNER,                                                                                                                       Specialist in Financial Research.

Foreign Affairs

THE PRESIDENT'S message to Congress was a heartening, even inspiring affirmation of the principles of true democracy. But puzzling, to say the least, is the President's statement of foreign policy at the beginning of the message. A dispatch emanating from London last month asserted with solemn seriousness that the issue between Germany and England, which had been recognized even a year ago as simply an economic issue, is rapidly becoming a moral issue. There is a tinge of this same Pecksniffian approach in the President's address, apparent chiefly in the calm assumption of the role of moral judge over foreign nations. Implicit in the message is that familiar division of nations and parties into bad and good, black and white, fascist and democrat, which has confused too much the political issues of our day. Naiveté has been notoriously an outstanding characteristic of American foreign policy. Granted that America as one of the family of nations has a duty toward the securing of world peace and welfare, we hope nevertheless that the awareness of that duty will not lead again to an adventure in chestnut pulling.

DANIEL J. SULLIVAN,                                                                                                                   Professor of Philosophy.

THE PRESIDENT preaches peace and preparedness and ignores the fact that we are supplying the munitions and machinery of war to the aggressor nations against whom he says we must protect ourselves. In vague rhetoric he says that we should not "assist or build up an aggressor" and yet he does not raise his voice against the anomaly of our building up enemies to defend ourselves against. Is peace, like war, to become a great economic enterprise? And is fear of foreign dictators to be used as a means of distracting attention from the unsatisfactory solutions of internal problems? Certainly these questions are suggested by the President's recent speeches.
Mr. Roosevelt also suggests one legitimate question: Can democracy achieve the internal unity—economic and political—which dictatorships achieve? This is one of the most important questions in practical politics today. The President's speeches may be interpreted to indicate that he believes one means of attaining this internal unity in the United States is to concentrate on the "dangers from without," and to chant the magic words, "democracy," "religious freedom" and "international  good faith." Such a technic, like some other New Deal policies, is too artificial to have enduring effects.

RUTH BYRNS,                                                                                                                               Professor of Education.

PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT has expressed dissatisfaction with our neutrality laws, asserting that they "may operate unevenly and unfairly—may actually give aid to an aggressor and deny it to the victim." However true this may be, I am very much opposed to any change or modification of governmental policy at this particular time. It would certainly be unwise and imprudent for Congress to sabotage our existing policy of non-intervention regarding the civil war in Spain.  Such a complete reversal of policy, at this time, would be interpreted  as positive aid to the murderous Red government of Loyalist Spain (wherever its capital may temporarily happen to be when this is published ), would postpone the victory of the Christian forces under General  Franco,  and would involve us in the militaristic maelstrom of European politics. For these reasons, every effort should be made at once to implement the splendid work of the National Council of Catholic Men which has organized a committee to prevent the lifting of the embargo on arms to Spain. The President and members of Congress should be informed now of the view of twenty million American citizens on this issue. KEEP THE SPANISH EMBARGO!

JOHN J. O'CONNOR,                                                                                                                     Professor of History and Sociology.

TWENTY years ago after the signing of the Armistice there was a deep sigh of relief in this country and a conviction of heart that never again would there be a great war in which we would participate. We had taken part in the war meant to end all war, and then proceeded to make a peace that threatened to end all peace. Now here is the President of the United States in his official message to Congress warning us that the world seems to be on the brink of the greatest war ever. The wise old Greeks twenty-five hundred years ago had the same experience. During the last twenty years a score of peace prizes have been awarded by the Nobel foundation but peace seems farther off than ever. Manifestly the cure is not in the intellectual order. The President points out that only the inculcation of moral principles through religion can prevent a war which will inevitably engulf civilization. Christianity is appealed to as a preventive. Suppose the world should be asked to try Christianity. We have only pretended to try it so far. Let us see what it can do before the worst comes.

JAMES J. WALSH, M.D.,                                                                                                               Author and Lecturer.

[For more from our 1930s archive, click here]

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