This problem is far more complicated and deep-seated than might appear at the first glance. Had we only to deal with the national psychoses and the mental conditions induced by the act of war and participation in it, the problem would be acute enough but it could be solved easily by the restitution of security, by the sound psychological treatment of the differing nationalities, by their physical rehabilitation and by the restoration of liberty, opportunity, leisure and, above all, by the organization of the men and women of goodwill. This latter group would show themselves as willing to carry forward the needed educational processes and (which is far more important) they would endeavour to convey spiritual inspiration—something which humanity sorely needs at this time. There are enough men and women of goodwill in the world today to accomplish this if they can be reached, inspired and supported in their endeavour, both materially and spiritually.
The situation is far more difficult than a casual analysis would make it seem. The psychological problem involved has a background which is centuries old, which is inherent in the soul of each individual nation and which is potently conditioning the minds of all their peoples today. It is here that our major difficulty lies and it is one which will not easily give way to any effort or to any spiritual endeavour, whether carried out by the organized churches (which show a woeful lack of appreciation of the problem) or by spiritually minded groups and individuals.
The work to be done is so acutely needed and the perils of its non-accomplishment are so appalling that it is necessary to indicate certain major lines of danger and certain national aptitudes which carry a menace to the peace of the world. These problems fall naturally into two categories:
I. The internal, psychological problems of the individual nations.
II. Major world problems, such as the relation between nations and business and the forces of labour.
Before the world can be a safer, sweeter, saner and more beautiful place, all the nations must take stock of themselves and begin to handle their own psychological weaknesses and complexes. Each nation must aim at sound mental health and endeavour to implement sound, psychological objectives. International unity must be attained and this should be based not only upon mutual trust but also upon correct world objectives and true psychological understanding.
Men and women everywhere are already striving towards individual betterment; groups in every nation are similarly motivated; the urge to move forward into greater beauty of expression, of character and of living conditions is the outstanding eternal characteristic of mankind. In the earlier stages of racial history, this urge showed itself in a desire for better material circumstances and surroundings; today, this urge expresses itself in a demand for beauty, leisure and culture; it voices the opportunity to work creatively and passes gradually but inevitably into the stage where right human relations become of prime importance.
Today a great and unique opportunity faces every nation. Hitherto the problem of psychological integration, of intelligent living, of spiritual growth and of divine revelation has been approached solely from the angle of man, the unit. Owing to the scientific achievements of mankind (as a result of the unfolding human intellect), it is now possible to think in far wider terms and to see humanity in a truer perspective. Our horizon is extending into infinity; our eyes are no longer focussed upon our immediate foreground. The family unit is now recognized in relation to the community, and the community is seen as an integral and effective part of the city, state or nation. Dimly, and as yet ineffectually, we are projecting this same concept into the field of international relations. Thinkers throughout the world are functioning internationally; this is the guarantee of the future because only when men can think in these wider terms will the fusion of all men everywhere become possible, will brotherhood come into being and humanity be a fact in our consciousness.
Most men today think in terms of their own nation or group and this is their largest concept; they have progressed beyond the stage of their individual physical and mental well-being and are visioning the possibility of adding their quota of usefulness and of stability to the national whole; they are seeking to be cooperative, to understand and to further the good of the community. This is not rare but is descriptive of many thousands in every nation. This spirit and attitude will some day characterize the attitude of nation to nation. At present this is not so, and a very different psychology rules. Nations seek and demand the best for themselves, no matter what the cost to others; they regard this as a right attitude and as characteristic of good citizenship. Nations are coloured by hatreds and prejudices, many of which are as unwarranted today as foul language in a religious meeting. Nations are split and divided within themselves by racial barriers, by party differences and by religious attitudes. This inevitably brings disorder and finally disaster.
An intense spirit of nationalism—assertive and boastful—distinguishes the citizens of most countries, particularly in relation to each other. This breeds dislike, distrust and the disruption of right human relations. All nations are guilty of these qualities and attitudes, expressed according to their individual culture and genius. All nations, as all families, have also in them groups or individuals who are recognized sources of trouble to the well-intentioned remainder. There are nations within the international community which are and have been for a long time disrupting agencies.
The problem of the interplay and interaction of the nations is largely a psychological one. The soul of a nation is potent in its effect. The national thoughtform (built up over the centuries by the thinking, the goals and the ambitions of a nation) constitutes its ideal objective and is most effective in conditioning the people. A Pole, a Frenchman, an American, a Hindu, a Britisher or a German are easily recognized, no matter where they may be. This recognition is not based solely upon appearance, intonation or habits but primarily upon the expressed mental attitude, the sense of relativity and a general national assertiveness. These indications express reaction to the particular national thoughtform under which the man has been raised. If this reaction makes him a good cooperative citizen within the national boundaries, that is good and to be desired. If it makes him assertive, arrogant, critical of the nationals of other countries and separative in his thinking, he is then contributing to world disunity and, en masse, to international disruption. This menaces the peace of the world. The problem, therefore, becomes one in which all people share. Nations can be (and often are) anti-social, and all nations have within them these anti-social elements.
Self-interest distinguishes most men at this time, with attendant weaknesses. Yet, in all countries, there are those who have outgrown these self-centred attitudes and there are many who are more interested in civic and the national good than in themselves. A few, a very few in relation to the mass of men, are internationally minded and preoccupied with the welfare of humanity, as a whole. They eagerly desire recognition of the one world, of the one humanity.
The stage of national selfishness and the fixed determination to preserve national integrity—interpreted often in terms of boundaries and the expansion of trade—must gradually fade out. The nations must pass eventually to a more beneficent realization and come to the point where they regard their national cultures, their national resources and their ability to serve mankind as the contributions which they must make to the good of the whole. Emphasis upon worldly possessions or extensive territory is no sign of maturity; fighting to preserve these or to expand them is a sign of adolescent immaturity. Mankind is now growing up; only now is humanity demonstrating a wider sense of responsibility, of ability to handle its problems or to think in larger terms. The late world war was symptomatic of immaturity, of adolescent thinking, of uncontrolled childish emotions and of a demand—by anti-social nations—for that which does not belong to them. Like children, they cry for "more".
The intense isolationism and the "hands off" policy of certain groups in the United States, the demand for a white Australia or South Africa, the cry of "America for the Americans", or British Imperialism, the shouting of France for recognition, are other instances. They all indicate inability to think in larger terms; they are an expression of world irresponsibility; they indicate also the childishness of the race which fails to grasp the extent of the whole of which each nation is a part. War and the constant demand for territorial boundaries, based on ancient history, the holding on to material, national possessions at the expense of other people will seem some day to a more mature race of men like nursery quarrels over some favourite toy. The challenging cry of "This is mine" will some day no longer be heard. In the meantime, this aggressive, immature spirit culminated in the war of 1914-1945. A thousand years hence, history will regard this as the acme of childish selfishness, started by grasping children who could not be stopped in their aggressive ways because the other nations were still too childish to take strong action when the first indications of the war were seen.
The race faces a new crisis of opportunity wherein new values can be seen as important, wherein the establishing of right human relations will be deemed desirable, not only from the idealistic point of view but also from the purely selfish angle. Some day the principles of cooperation and of sharing will be substituted for those of possessive greed and competition. This is the inevitable next step ahead for humanity—one for which the entire evolutionary process has prepared mankind.
It was selfishness and self-interest which prevented several nations from siding with the Forces of Light; they preserved a selfish neutrality and lengthened the war by years. Is it not possible that when Germany first marched into Poland and when France and Great Britain consequently declared war upon Germany, if the entire civilized world of nations (without exception) had likewise declared war and banded together for the defeat of the aggressor, the war would not have lasted as long as it did? Interior politics, international jealousies, ancient distrusts and hatreds, fear and a refusal to recognize the facts produced disunity. Had all nations seen clearly and renounced their individual selfishness in 1939, the war would have been over much earlier. Had all the nations swung into action when Japan first went into Manchuria or Italy into Ethiopia, the war which has devastated the entire planet would not have been possible. To that extent, there is no nation without blame.
It is needful to make this clear so that there may be straight thinking as we face the world of today and begin to take the steps which will, in due course of time, lead to world security. This period should be faced by every nation with a sense of individual guilt and of innate psychological failure. It is hard to admit that none of the nations (including our own) has clean hands, and that all are guilty of greed and theft, of separativeness, of pride and prejudice, as well as national and racial hatreds. All nations have much interior housecleaning to do and this they must carry forward along with their outer efforts to bring about a better and more habitable world. It must be a world consciousness, motivated by the idea of the general good, one in which higher values than individual and national gain are emphasized and one in which people are trained in right national citizenship upon the one hand and on the other in the responsibility for world citizenship.
Is this too idealistic a picture? The guarantee of its possibility lies in the fact that thousands today are thinking along these idealistic lines; thousands are occupied with planning a better world and thousands are talking about the possibility. All ideas which emanate from the divine in man and nature eventually become ideals (even though somewhat distorted in the process) and these ideals finally become the governing principles of the masses. This is the true sequence of the historical process.
It might be of value to study briefly some of the psychological adjustments which the nations must make within their own borders, because reform begins at home. Then let us look at the world picture and gain a new vision. There is a scientific basis for the old statement in the Bible that "where there is no vision, the people perish".
History indicates a long past of battle, of war, of changing frontiers, of the discovery and prompt annexation of new territory, involving the subjugation of the original inhabitants, sometimes greatly to their benefit but always inexcusable. The spirit of nationalism and its growth is the background of modern history as taught in our schools, feeding national pride, engendering national enmities, racial hatreds and jealousies. History concerns itself with the lines of demarcation between countries and with the type of rule each country developed. These lines of demarcation are fiercely held and passports, as instituted this century, indicate the crystallization of the idea. History portrays the fierce determination of every nation to preserve its boundaries at any cost, to keep its culture and civilization intact, to add to them when possible and to share nothing with any other nation except for commercial profit, for which international legislation is provided. Yet all the time humanity is one humanity and the products of the earth belong to all. This wrong attitude has not only fostered the sense of separateness but has led to the exploitation of the weaker groups by the stronger and the wrecking of the economic life of the masses by a mere handful of powerful groups.
Ancient habits of mass thinking and of mass reaction are difficult to overcome. It is here that the main battleground of the world is found. Public opinion will have to be re-educated. The nations are reverting to the deep-seated modes of behaviour and thought which have characterized them for generations. We need, in the general interest, to face up to our past, to recognize the new trends, to renounce the old ways of thinking and acting if humanity is not to descend to greater depths than in the last war.
The voices of the old order and the demand of the reactionary elements can be heard in every country, plus the demands of certain radical groups. Because they have been so long established, the voices of the conservatives carry weight and because humanity is tired, almost any action will be taken to ensure a rapid return to the normalcy, demanded by the conservatives, unless those who have the new vision act with promptness and with wisdom—and of this there is too little indication at this time.
A clamour is arising from France that her ancient glory be recognized, that her ancient task of representing the major, civilizing influence in old Europe be remembered, and that France be safeguarded and protected. She demands that nothing be done without consulting her. Yet for decades, France has given to the world a picture of great disunity and of political corruption and graft; she has always evidenced a deep love and desire for material gratification, priding herself on her realism, but not on any spiritual idealism, and substituting the brilliance of the intellect and keen scientific perception for the subjective realities. Has France learned from her collapse in the summer of 1940 that the values of the spirit must take the place of those which have hitherto motivated her? Does she realize that she has to regain the respect of the world—a respect which she lost when she surrendered and sought collaboration, thus proving herself innately weaker than those much smaller nations which fought until forced to accept defeat? Can France emerge from this time of trial, purified and able to demonstrate a new capacity to think in terms of unselfish international relations and not solely in terms of the material civilization which she demonstrated so wonderfully for so many centuries? She can and eventually she will. Her brilliant intellect (when turned to the study of the things of the spirit) can outstrip the researchings of lesser minds; that clear perception and ability to convey thoughts in concise and crystal clear terms will be utilized to bring home to many the eternal verities. When France finds her spiritual soul and not just her intellectual soul, she will prove to be the medium through which will come revelation as to the nature of the soul of man. France has in the past revealed the nature of the human soul in its stage of intensest individualism and selfishness. Through fire and pain, France will later demonstrate the qualities of the spirit of man. The accent upon the material values and the intense emphasis upon the importance of France to the world, instead of the importance of the international attitude to France in terms of unselfish human relations, summarizes the psychological problem with which France is at this time faced and which certain of her finest thinkers realize. Can France learn to think in terms of and for those who lie beyond her boundaries, or will she continue to think in terms of France? These are the questions she must answer.
Of the faults of the German nation, there is little need to speak; they have been made painfully clear to the entire world. The Germany of the mystical poets and writers of the Middle Ages will again arise—the Germany of the musical festivals, the Germany which has given the world the best of the music of all time, the Germany of Schiller and of Goethe and the Germany of the philosophers. The major fault of the German people is an extreme negativity which makes them the most easily "conditioned" people of all time, plus an ability to accept dictatorship and propaganda without any questioning or revolt and with a deep sense of inferiority. The German people are consequently easily exploited, easily convinced by those who can shout and threaten; they are easily regimented.
This negativity must be overcome and attention must be paid to the careful training of the individual to think and act for himself and to set great store by his own ideas, and all in a spirit of goodwill. This should be the keynote of all future education of the German people. Given that and given right idealistic propaganda, the German people can develop right habits of thought as easily as they have been led into evil ways and into separative thinking. The regimentation of the German people must not be stopped for a long time to come but its motivation must be completely altered. Their main psychological problem is to recognize their relation to all other peoples on equal terms. The major trouble facing the United Nations will be to find the strong and good leader who can enforce that regimentation in a spirit of understanding and goodwill until such time as it is no longer needed and German men and women can think for themselves, and not in response to the propaganda of a group or a military caste. The responsibility of the Allies is great. Will they take advantage of the responsiveness of the German people to propaganda and see that it is properly and spiritually exploited? Will they see that the educational institutions of that unhappy land are placed in the hands of those with a vision of the future, who have a firm determination to train the rising generation to know themselves as men and not as supermen? Can they instil into the consciousness of the children of today and of those who will yet be born, the significance and the importance of right human relations? Can they then continue this educational process for a long enough time? Here lies the test of the true intentions of the United Nations. The spiritual potentialities of the German people must not be forgotten. We must look forward towards that which they can be trained to become. Practically speaking, they can more easily be changed under right methods of teaching and conditioning than any other nation in Europe. Germany still expresses the herd consciousness. This must be transmuted into group consciousness—the consciousness of the free individual who collaborates with other men of goodwill for the benefit of the whole.
Great Britain has been a great and imperialistic power. Her acquisitive spirit, her tenacity and the firmness of her political manoeuvres in the past have warranted this charge. She has played "power politics" and has become expert in balancing one nation against another nation in order to preserve the status quo and the integrity of the British Isles. She has wrought with diligence for a stability among the nations which will enable her to function smoothly and attain her ends. She has been accused of an intense commercialism and the phrase "a nation of shop keepers" has been applied to her by other nations. The British are frequently disliked by other peoples; their aloof hauteur, their national pride and their attitude of owning the world alienates many. Great Britain carries the sense of caste into all her international relations just as the class distinction system has controlled her internal relationships for ages. These accusations are all based on truth and the enemies of Great Britain can bring due cause to the judgment seat. The British, as a whole, have been reactionary, over-cautious and conservative, slow to move, and apt to be satisfied with existing conditions, particularly if those conditions are strictly British. All these characteristics have been the cause of extreme irritation to other people, particularly the nation which emerged from Britain, the United States. This is one side of the picture. But the British are not anti-social; they have led the way in welfare reforms, instituting such measures as the old-age pension system long before other nations did so. They are deeply paternalistic in their handling of smaller and less developed nations and have really helped them. Being conservative, it is hard for them to know when to withdraw that paternal help. The motto of the House of Wales is: "I serve". The innate tendency of the British race is to serve the nations and the races which are gathered together under the Union Jack. It must be remembered that since the beginning of the 20th Century, great changes have taken place in the thinking of the English people. Old things have passed away; the caste system with its aloofness, its separativeness and its paternalism is rapidly disappearing as the war and labour emphasize essential equality. Great Britain seeks no more territory; she is now a commonwealth of entirely independent nations.
The major psychological problem before the British people is to gain the confidence of the world and lead other nations to recognize the existent justice and the good intentions of their thinking and planning. This she had lost during the past few centuries but is now slowly regaining. Her attitude to world affairs today is internationally based; she is desirous of the good of the whole and is prepared to make sacrifices in the interests of the whole; her intentions are just, and her will is towards cooperation; her citizens are brave and sound in their thinking and are disturbed at what the history of the past has brought to them of dislike. If the emergence from a shy and proud reticence were given free play, Great Britain and the other nations of the world could walk the way of life together with little disagreement.
Russia remains a great enigma for the rest of the world today. Her potentiality for human service and her ability to impose her will on a large scale upon the entire world outstrips that of any other nation. This in itself breeds distrust. Her territory covers a large part of Europe and the whole of North Asia. She has passed through a great and cruel revolution and a subsequent period of readjustment. She is preparing for world collaboration and is evidencing a wish for this to be accomplished on her own terms—the terms of a general control of other lands, beginning with the smaller nations upon her western frontier. She is lifting the peoples of her own land from a condition of ignorance and poverty into one of knowledge and sufficiency. Russia is deeply distrusted by the rest of the world, particularly by its conservative elements, and this for two reasons: first, the cruelty with which the earliest stages of her revolution started—the period which we glibly call "Bolshevism"—and, by a subsequent period of a deliberately chosen and determined isolationism behind her closed frontiers. It was, nevertheless, a creative silence. The war then forced Russia to quit her silence for world collaboration. She was forced into participation in the World War. Russia is the home of a germinating revelation of great spiritual value and group significance—a revelation for all mankind. It is the dimly sensed and somewhat inaccurate realization of this which has led to her insidious propaganda.
Russia has created fermentation in other countries before she herself really knows what is the revelation of which she is custodian. Her activity is therefore premature. The true secret of brotherhood (one hitherto unknown and unrealized) is hers to give the world, but as yet she knows not what it is. This fact, that Russia is the spiritual custodian of a revelation, is sensed by the other nations in the world; and the first reaction has been fear, based on certain initial mistakes and her premature activity upon the physical plane. Nevertheless, all peoples view Russia with expectation; they dimly realize that from her will come some new thing, for Russia is rapidly maturing and integrating and will demonstrate that she has much to give.
The world is witnessing the uprising and the surging forward of a nation which has accomplished in a quarter of a century what other nations have taken many generations to work out. Russia is a giant, getting into his stride—a young giant, aware of great possibility, animated by a deeply religious, though unorthodox spirit, handicapped by a combination of oriental traits and occidental purposes, and distrusted by the world, owing to earlier moves falsely taken. These moves were an attempt to infiltrate into other nations, in order to upset their stability and so weaken them that they could be easily swept into the house of humanity which Russia is attempting to build. Russia is inwardly (but as yet unconsciously) motivated by a desire to bring brotherhood into being. Can you accept this diagnosis of that great unknown quantity which is Russia? Time alone can prove the accuracy of this statement, plus wise activity and sound propaganda on the part of Russia. The psychological problem of the U.S.S.R. is, in the last analysis, to mind her own business, to stabilize and integrate a vast population, and to lead her peoples still further into the light. Russia must also learn to cooperate with other powers on an equal basis. Russia must not, with ambition and design, seek to sweep the small powers into her arena of activity against their wishes or through undue pressure and force. Russia has still much to do for the immense territories and their inhabitants which are already within her sphere of influence; the other nations must also work out their own destiny and must not be ruled perforce by Russia. Above everything else, the problem before Russia is to give to the other nations of the world such an example of wise rule, free expression of individual purpose, and the use of an inclusive and sound education, that other nations will pattern themselves upon what Russia has demonstrated, yet will at the same time, preserve their own cultural approach, their own self-chosen form of government, and their own mode of expressing brotherhood. Russia inherently stands for a new world consciousness, and through her means, a new planetary expression will gradually be wrought out in the fire of experiment and experience. That great nation (a synthesis of East and West) must learn to rule without cruelty, without infringing the free will of the individual and because she has complete confidence in the beneficence of the ideals which she is developing but which are not yet expressed.
As for the Polish people, a long historical past lays upon them the responsibility of a definitely cultural effect upon surrounding nations and of a spiritual giving of which they are as yet apparently unaware. Their continued emphasis upon territorial possessions blinds their eyes to the true value of their possible world contribution. Being a strongly emotional and individual people, they are, within their own borders, in a state of constant disunion and friction; they have no interior unity. Their psychological problem is to achieve an integration which will be based upon the overcoming of racial hatreds. They need to resolve their national problem in terms of goodwill and not of selfish interests. Their real problem is the attaining of right internal relationships.
Although the problem of boundaries, possessions, territories, colonies, and material undertakings loom large in the eyes of all nations, the fact that the emphasis is so purely material indicates its relative unimportance, when seen in true perspective. The only factor that truly matters at this time is humanity itself, and in the face of human agony, human distress, and human destitution, the emphasis upon boundaries is stupidly over-emphatic. Adjustments have to be made; boundaries will have to be determined. The ultimate decisions, however, must not be made on the basis of history or of ancient glory, but on the basis of what is best for the peoples involved. They themselves must determine the issue.
The World War has been presented by the finest minds and the idealists among the Allied Nations as being fought ostensibly for human freedom, yet all the great Powers entered this war with selfish motives and for self-preservation; this is universally acknowledged. All have a sound and selfless underlying idealism in a greater or lesser degree. This is the freeing of humanity from dictatorship. After war comes the test of the success of victory. If the nations throughout the world reap the benefits of free election, if peoples in disputed areas are permitted by a free plebiscite to decide their own loyalties and adherences, and if freedom of speech, freedom of religion and a truly free press and radio are the outcome of this war, a great step forward will have been made by the entire human family.
The psychological problem with which the United States of America is confronted is that of learning to shoulder worldwide responsibility. Both Great Britain and Russia have already learned that lesson in some form.
The American people—as they pass out of the stage of adolescence—must learn the lessons of life through experimentation and resultant experience. This is a lesson that all young people have to learn. The German race is old; the German nation is very young. The Italian people are of ancient origin; the Italian state is historically of very recent date. The accusation of youth (if it is an accusation) is also true of the United States. A great future lies ahead of that nation but not because of material power or commercial efficiency, as many materially-minded people think. The reason lies in a deeply spiritual, innate idealism, enormous humanitarian potentiality and—above all else—because virgin and non-effete stock of largely peasant and middle class origin is determining the race. Steadily in all nations, the power in government and in determining practical ideologies is rapidly passing into the hands of the "people" and out of the hands of the so-called ruling classes and the aristocracy. Countries such as Great Britain and France, which have accepted the determining evolutionary tendencies, can move forward with greater ease into the future than can such countries as Spain and Poland which have been ruled for centuries by a dominant aristocracy and a politically-minded church. The United States of America has no such handicap, except in so far as the laws of capital and finance seek control. The same is largely true of Great Britain.
The roots of the people in the United States are necessarily in other countries because its citizens have originally come out of those countries. They have no indigenous people except the Red Indian who has been ruthlessly dispossessed by the on-rushing tide from other lands. The racial groups within the States still bear the marks of their origin and of their racial heritage; they are psychologically and physically of Italian, British, Finnish, German and other origins. In this fact consists part of the wonder of this rapidly integrating nation.
Like all young people, symbolically speaking, the people of the United States show all the characteristics of adolescence. Again, symbolically speaking, the people of the United States are of the ages seventeen to twenty four. They shout freedom and still are not free; they refuse to be told what to do because it infringes upon their rights, nevertheless they allow themselves to be guided frequently by the inept, the partisan politician and by the inadequate; they are broadly tolerant and yet most intolerant of other nations; they are ready to tell other nations how to handle their problems but as yet evidence no ability to handle their own, as witness the treatment of the American Negroes and the withholding of equal freedom and opportunity from them. They are restlessly experimenting with all phases of life, with every kind of idea and all kinds of relationships. The creative power of the race shows itself as yet in a wonderful control of nature and in great construction projects which bring water under control, or which relate all parts of this vast country through roads and waterways. America is a great battleground for experiment along creative lines; it is profoundly interested in trying out every kind of ideology. The fight between capital and labour will reach its climax in the United States, but will also be fought out in Great Britain and France. Russia already has her own solution but the lesser nations of the world will be guided and conditioned by the result of this battle in the British Commonwealth of Nations and in the United States.
Order must be brought about in the States and this order will come when freedom is interpreted in terms of self-chosen discipline; a freedom which can turn into license and which is interpreted by each individual in the best interests of himself constitutes a danger to be avoided. It is a danger of which the best minds are deeply aware.
Like all young people, Americans feel superior to more mature fellow nations; they are apt to think that they have a higher idealism, a saner outlook and a greater love of freedom than other nations; they are apt to forget that though there may be some backward nations, there are many nations in the world with as high an idealism, as sound a body of motives, and with a more mature and experienced approach to world problems. Again, like all young people, the American is intensely critical of other people, but often blind to and always resentful of criticism. Yet there is as much to criticize in America as there is in any other nation; all nations have a vast housecleaning to do, and the difficulty at this time is that they must do it alongside of the strict fulfilling of their international relationships. No nation can live unto itself today. If it attempts to do so it treads the way of death and that is the true horror of the isolationist position. Factually today we have one world and this sums up the psychological problem of humanity. The goal is right human relations; nations will stand or fall just in so far as they measure up to that vision. The era ahead of us—under evolutionary law and the will of God—is to see the establishment of right human relations.
We are entering a vast experimental period of discovery; we shall discover just exactly what we are—as nations, in our group relationships, through our expression of religion and in our mode of governments. It will be an intensely difficult era and will be only successfully lived through if each nation will recognize its own internal defects and will handle them with vision and deliberate humanitarian purpose. This means for each nation the overcoming of pride and the attainment of interior unity. Each country today is divided within itself by warring groups—idealists and realists, political parties and far-sighted statesmanship, religious groups, fanatically occupied with their own ideas, capital and labour, isolationists and internationalists, people violently against certain groups or nations and others working on behalf of them. The only factor which can eventually and in due time bring harmony and the end of these chaotic conditions is right human relations.
Every country also has much to contribute but as long as that contribution is considered, as it now is, in terms of its commercial value or its political usefulness, that contribution will not be given in aid of right human relations.
Every country must also receive from all other countries. This involves a recognition of certain specific lacks, plus a willingness to take from others on terms of equality. Every country has its own peculiar note which must be brought into unison and swell the great chorus from all the nations. This will only be possible when pure religion is restored and the spiritual impetus, nascent in every nation, is given free expression. This is not yet the case; theological forms still hold the spiritual life.
Every nation, owing to its past history, and to its own deeds and enactments, is closely related to every other nation, and of this fact the U.S.A. is perhaps more expressive than many, because its nationals have come from all the known races. Isolationism was defeated even before it reared its ugly head because the people of America are international by origin and background.
Humanity, as has been said before, is the world disciple; the impulse behind the disintegration of the old world forms is a spiritual one. The spiritual life of humanity is now so strong that it has disrupted all present forms of human expression. The world of the past has gone and gone forever, and the new world of forms has not yet made its appearance. Its construction will be distinctive of the emerging creative life of the spirit of man. The important factor to bear in mind is that it is one spirit and the nations have each to learn to recognize that spirit within themselves and within each other.
To sum up: the task of every nation is, therefore, a twofold one—
1. To solve its own psychological internal problems. This it does by recognition of their existence; by the quelling of national pride and by taking those steps which would establish unity and beauty of rhythm in the life of its peoples.
2. To foster the spirit of right relations. This is accomplished by the recognition of the one world of which it is a part. This later involves also the taking of those steps which would enable it to enrich the whole world with its own individual contribution.
These two activities—national and international— must proceed side by side with the emphasis upon the work of practical Christianity, and not by dominant theologies and subtly imposed Church controls.
From the angle of the spiritual Forces of Light, the immediate world process should include:
1. The impending crisis of freedom. This involves free elections in all countries to determine the type of government, the national boundaries (where that problem exists) and a plebiscite of the people to determine their nationalities and loyalties.
2. The cleaning up process carried on in all the nations without any exception whatever so that a wholesome unity, based on freedom and demonstrating unity in diversity, can be brought about.
3. A steadily pursued educational process by which all the peoples in the world can be grounded in the only ideology that will prove finally and generally effective—that of right human relations. Slowly but surely, this educational movement will inevitably produce right understanding and correct attitudes and activities in every community, in every church and nation, and ultimately in the international field. This will take time but it presents a challenge to all men of goodwill throughout the world.
The spiritual guides of the race can present this formula of progress. They cannot guarantee its enactment, for humanity is left free to decide its own problems. Certain questions, therefore, emerge immediately.
Will the great powers, Russia, the United States, and the British Commonwealth of Nations stand together for the total good of humanity, or will they each proceed upon their separate way towards their own selfish objectives?
Will the smaller powers as well as the great Powers be willing to relinquish some of their so-called sovereignty in the interests of the whole? Will they attempt to view the world situation from the angle of humanity, or will they only see their own individual good?
Will they omit the constant carping criticism which has distinguished the past and which breeds a growing hatred, and recognize that all nations are made up of human beings, at different stages of evolution, and conditioned by their background, race and environment?
Will they be willing to leave each other free to shoulder individual responsibility and yet be willing ever to assist each other as members of one family and as animated by one human spirit, the spirit of God?
Will they be willing to share the produce of the earth, knowing it belongs to all, freely distributing it as nature does? Or will they permit it to fall into the hands of a few powerful nations or a mere handful of powerful men and financial experts?
Such are only a few of the questions for which answers must be sought and found. The task looks hard indeed.
Yet there are enough spiritually minded people in the world today to change world attitudes and to bring in the new spiritually creative period. Will these men and women of vision and goodwill arise in their might in every nation and make their voices heard? Will they have the strength, the persistence and the courage to overcome defeatism, to break the chain of hampering theologies—political, social, economic and religious—and work for the good of all peoples? Will they overcome the forces arrayed against them through firm conviction of the stability and potentiality of the human spirit? Will they have faith in the intrinsic worth of humanity? Will they realize that the entire trend of the evolutionary process is sweeping them on to victory? The firm establishment of right human relations is already a determined part of divine purpose and nothing can arrest its eventual appearance. That appearance can, however, be hastened by right and selfless action.
[PROBLEMS OF HUMANITY, 1947, pp. 6-31]