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GROUNDS OF HOPE IN THE PRESENT
By Rev. HENRY CHURCHILL KING, D.D., LL.D.
HAT are some of the grounds of hope in this supreme crisis?
1. We may rejoice first of all that the issues are clearing, that the great ends are coming out, that the significant trends in this world struggle are becoming clear. This itself is a cause for hope, --that we are beginning to be able to trace some law and order in the chaos, and therefore becoming able to act both intelligently and unselfishly.
2. As a consequence, it is a further ground for hope that the present world situation can be seen to be no accident, no mysterious divine providence, but a logical moral outcome of what preceded. We are being compelled to see the logical consequences of the positions of the nations, and that on a worldwide scale. The inescapable consequences of Christian and of anti-Christian policies are becoming unmistakably manifest. We must choose between them. The inevitable final results to all men, of exclusive national selfishness and of immeasurable national arrogance, are to be read in Belgium and Armenia. The folly, the ultimate impossibility, and the terrors of an anti-Christian philosophy of the state are to be seen, too, in that indescribably desolated Belgium and France and in outraged Armenia, demonstrable to every sense and faculty of man. For there has been there made a veritable hell on earth, in which life is not worth living. There is here revealed, not merely the savagery of barbarism, but a deliberately adopted, scientifically developed, and philosophically defended fiendish terrorism, infinitely more threatening than native barbarism.
The terrible consequences upon the perpetrators themselves bear witness. Is there any spectacle more terrifying than that a Christian nation should be proud of the desolation which it has produced, (witness the legend on the ruins of France-"Do not curse; just wonder”) and be morally blind to its own shame and to the abhorrence which it has awakened in the rest of the civilized world? Out of this same national arrogance and selfishness has grown Germany's utter inability to read any other people aright.
But it should be remembered at the same time that the progress of events in this war is bringing out with similar increasing clearness all the inconsistencies of the Allies. Wherever there has been unfair treatment of other races; wherever there has
been failure in a true democracy, there the Allies too are forced to face a new challenge. Ireland and India and Persia and Finland and the Balkans and Madagascar, our own treatment of coloured races, and unwarranted Italian ambitions, all demand to be faced. It is a day of world judgment. “There is nothing covered up, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” And such a day of judgment is at the same time a day of hope.
3. The terribleness of the cost of the struggle is for religious faith, as I have elsewhere said, also a ground of hope. That the cost in money of this single war should months ago have been more than twice the total debt of the world in 1914, and have now grown to more than eighty billion dollars; that nations with more than a billion of population should already be directly involved in the war,-these are only external signs of the still more terrible cost in physical and mental anguish, in loss of life and in waste of moral resources.
Men's own indignant sense of this awful price will demand that the future shall show some corresponding advances. We can hardly believe in the overruling providence of God at all, and not look for commensurate gains for the race. Surely such immeasurable sacrifice, however blind it may have been at given points, is not, under God, to be poured out in vain.
4. Nor are we to leave out of consideration as a reason for hope the lasting value of the extensive peace propaganda which preceded the war. That
has undoubtedly opened the eyes of men, as they have never been opened before, to the barbaric brutality, to the terrible and manifold cost of war, and to the challenge which it brings to all rational civilization and to every ideal interest. At best this war must be felt to be what some one has declared it "the savagery of civilization on the march to save the world from the civilization of savagery." However short-sighted some pacifists may be, the great essentials of the peace propaganda were sound, and they ought to help all the nations, and America especially, to hate war, to keep free from war madness, to retain sense of proportion, and to cherish a deep care for a better civilization than the world yet knows.
It is quite possible to believe that a nation must take its part in this war,-as I certainly do believe for America, and still to believe that war is an essentially evil thing. It is an English publicist who says:
“I avow myself an extreme pacifist! I do not merely want to end this war, I want to nail down war in its coffin. Modern war is an intolerable thing .. It is disaster. It may be a necessary disaster, .... but for all that I insist it remains waste, disorder, disaster."
To these words a thoughtful American has added:
“It is in hearty accord with the spirit of this statement of Wells that some pacifists enter this war, not exultant, buoyantly shouting for our country's flag, but soberly, consecrated to a magnificent charge, but nevertheless humiliated, because war has come only as an accusation, a great indictment against us all, and America especially, that would be Republic of Man, because we have not made manifest quickly enough our high destiny among the nations, have not realized to the limit even of today's human capacity the possibilities of our consecrated democracy.”
In that speaks a true pacifism that faces the facts on both sides; that sees both the terror of war, and the still greater terror of an ignoble surrender of the fruits of all Christian civilization.
5. It is also a ground for hope in the present crisis that the issues are seen to be at bottom so thoroughly moral and religious and even Christian. While this fact itself adds to the gravity of the crisis, it at the same time manifestly increases its significance. Here is no mere blind brute struggle. We need not believe "that a majority of civilized mankind is fighting and sacrificing, all without reason and significance for human progress.” On the contrary, as we have seen, interests of the highest conceivable order are involved in this war; so involved that it is neither travesty nor exaggeration to call this war on the part of America a truly Holy War. For grave as the crisis is, we may expect the reason and conscience of the race to reassert themselves. We may believe that national moral blind