The Secret Destiny of America
World democracy was the secret dream of the great classical philosophers. ... Thousands of years before Columbus they were aware of the existence of our Western Hemisphere and selected it to be the site of the philosophic empire. ... The brilliant plan of the Ancients has survived to our time, and it will continue to function until the great work is accomplished. ...
The American nation desperately needs a vision of its own purpose. By preserved symbols, we can know that it is from the remote past, tram the deep shadows of the medieval world, as well as from the early struggles of more modern music, that the power of American democracy has come America can not refuse the challenge of leadership in the postwar world. Mere physical reconstruction of ravaged countries and the reorganization of political, economic, and social systems is the lesser task we will face.
The larger problem and the great challenge is in how to set up a new order of world ethics firmly established on a foundation of democratic idealism. Experts in various fields have already submitted programs designed to meet the needs of those nations whose way of life has been disrupted by war. But with the failing common to specially trained minds, these planners are inclined to think mostly in the terms of their own particular interests.
As yet, no one has touched the fundamentals of international ethics. No one has advanced a working plan securely based upon a broad, deep, and sympathetic understanding of the human being and his problems. The thinking has been in the dual fields of power politics and material economics, with remedies expressed in terms of charts, blueprints, patterns, and industrial programs. But, there is one new and encouraging element present in most of the recommendations of today's experts. They are recognizing the necessity of conceiving the world as one inter-dependent structure.
Yet, even as they recognize the need for a unity of human interests, their recommendations are for the perpetuation of highly competitive economic policies, which, if they are consistently applied, must lead to the end of war and discord. It is not an easy task to unite the efforts of the human race toward the accomplishment of any common good. Mankind in the majority is selfish, provincial in attitude, and concerned primarily with personal success and acquiring creature comforts.
It will not be possible to build an enduring peace until the average man has been convinced that personal selfishness is detrimental to personal happiness and personal success. It must be shown that self-seeking has gone out of fashion and that the world is moving on to a larger conception of living. The postwar planners have more idealism in their programs than has ever before been expressed in the problem of the relationships of nations. But it still is not enough. A clear and complete statement of a world purpose is required—a world dreams great enough to inspire unity of world effort. These are the days of America's opportunity to lead a still troubled mankind toward a better way of life. If we meet this challenge, we will ensure not only the survival of our nation for centuries to come, but we shall gain the enduring gratitude of our fellowmen and Americans will be remembered to the end of time as great enlightened people. It is not enough that we solve particular problems.
We must solve the very cause of the problem itself. Wars, depressions, crime, dictators and their oppressions, are the symptoms giving a clear indication of a greater ailment. To examine each problem solely in terms of the problem itself, without recognition of its true relationship to a larger and more universal necessity, is to fail in the broader implications of enduring peace and prosperity. Experience should have taught us long ago that policies that have originated from material considerations and attitudes have proved inadequate.
The whole story of civilization and the records of history tell us that all such adjustments hold no hope of lasting peace or security. But, here we are again preparing ourselves to be satisfied with temporary solutions for permanent problems. The recognition is long overdue that we oversimplify the problem of world peace when we think that process is one of breaking the task down for examination of its materialistic parts, and then hopefully devising an applicable remedy for each of these.
The physical conditions of human existence are not the whole of the human problem. We could adjust all material considerations to the point of supremest equity, and yet accomplish virtually nothing solutional. The greatest of known problems is the human problem. And not until the all-embracing examination is made into every phase of human needs can there be an adequate reconstruction policy for a postwar world. That man is physical is obvious, but he is also mental, and emotional; he is spiritual, and he has a soul.
These latter factors are not so obvious. What to do about them is not so easy; for they are difficult to understand, and even more difficult to classify and reduce to a working pattern. We as builders of civilization will have to learn that only when equal consideration is given to each of these elements of man's nature will we arrive at the solutions for the disasters into which men and nations precipitate themselves. Our postwar reconstructors—ours, if not by our selection, at least with our consent—are not outstandingly qualified for this broader task. Few indeed are the statesmen and politicians who have any conception of man as a spiritual being.
And as for military leaders, they are primarily disciplinarians, invaluable as such in times of war, but not at all emotionally geared to problems of individualistic peacetime character. And world planners recruited from among our industrial leaders, it must be admitted, are not generally informed on the workings of the human psyche. Those who have made the study of humans conduct their life work, the sociologists, have little scientific knowledge of the hidden springs that animate that very conduct into its amazing diversity of manifestations. And if a word is to be said for bringing in the clergy, it might be that the theologian planner who will be truly useful will be one who acquires at least some knowledge of the science of biology.
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