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that Barbusse's novel, Under Fire, which a distinguished French dramatist calls the "first great work the war has given us,” and which was recently awarded the Goncourt prize of 1916, is "an ardent tribute to the mute, inglorious millions of ordinary men constrained to heroism by circumstances, brave, determined, reliable, but not imbued with any military spirit—those millions of uprooted civilians who differ in every respect from the professional soldier":
“They are not reckless of their lives, like bandits, nor blind with wrath, like savages. Despite the efforts to excite them, they are not excited. They are superior to every sort of transport. They are not drunk either literally or figuratively. They have come together, in full consciousness, as in full force and full health, to play once more the role imposed upon them by the madness of their kind. In their silence, in their immobility, in the masks of superhuman calm on their visages, reflection and fear and longing are discernible. They are not the sort of heroes they are popularly supposed to be; but their sacrifice is nobler than those who have not seen them will ever be able to divine."
9. With this new faith in the heroic quality of common men, there has come a like new faith in the rank and file of the nations. Men can talk no longer of degenerate France or England or of materialistic America. Belgium has proved itself possessed of a soul which she was not willing to sell. Nation
after nation has refused to take the course that mere economics might dictate. Every belligerent has known that it must defend its cause before the public opinion of the world, and has devoted immense sums and energies to that end. Even the bitterest belligerents have been obliged to learn from one another, and so tacitly at least to acknowledge the worth of their enemies. It would be dastardly treachery for the Allies to forget the unstinted service of coloured races. Surely a practically demonstrable ground has thus been laid in this war for a parliament of nations-occidental and oriental, white and coloured. Races who are good enough to die for a cause, are good enough to live with and in it.
“Thank God that man is more than all his hoarded
gold, And in the storm of death his faith and valour hold. Thank God that
peace is forging upon the anvil war, And a people's truth and honour more than riches
10. There are specific hopes also, especially for the smaller nations, which this war permits us to cherish, in line with the avowed aims and principles of the Entente Allies, and with President Wilson's recent messages. Oh for a fairer, juster world! What Mr. Balfour says of the Central Powers, as Gibbons urges, must be said of all the powers: their
'aggressive objects and unscrupulous methods” must be "discredited in the eyes of their own peoples.” Belgium and France must be fully restored, and Belgium at least truly indemnified. Ranker injustice cannot well be proposed, if less than this is done for Belgium; as even most socialists of all nations seem to believe. Serbia, too, must be restored. In general, the Balkan peninsula should be honestly guaranteed to the Balkan peoples. We should look for a new and independent Finland; for a new, united and independent Poland. One cannot help hoping that Japan will be large enough to fulfil her original promise and hand back the Shantung peninsula to China. The unspeakable Armenian massacre should be ample demonstration that the Turk should be driven absolutely out of Europe, and that Armenia and Syria should be entirely released from Turkish rule. If any power has ever demonstrated its utter unfitness to rule over other peoples, Turkey has done so. Some true doctrine of the freedom of the seas should be wrought out and upheld by the league of nations to enforce peace-a freedom of the seas that is not simply dependent on the favour and good will of even the best nation, but is grounded in justice and due respect for the rights of all nations.
II. No Christian survey of the issues and outcomes of this world war could be complete, that did not note the religious bearings of the war. It may perhaps be said, in a word, that, while the war has
unquestionably shaken the religious faith of many, the faith so shaken has been in general a faith not wholly Christian in the beginning. The shallow and sentimental types of Christianity have certainly proved themselves inadequate to the world's need, and we may rejoice in it. But on the other hand there seems to be as little doubt, that the great majority of men have been irrevocably driven back to a new sense of the absolute and indispensable need of moral purpose and deep religious faith both for significant personal living and for any high civilization, and that the Christianity of Christ himself has a clearer field than ever for the conquest of the world. As Mr. Britling says, “Religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until man has found God, and been found by God, he begins at no beginning, and works to no end." That Christian men should fail to see this great new opportunity would be disaster indeed.
But we cannot honestly, cherish these great hopes for humanity, and not work that they may come to pass. To that end, in the first place, we need to be unceasingly vigilant that we keep steadily before us the high aims with which we entered the war, and refuse to sully those aims by any unworthy conduct of the war, and that we keep our spirits purged clean of all arrogance and hatred and bitterness. That will be no easy task.
And by and through the war, and not merely after it,—for now is our opportunity—we may well
have steadily in mind some such war programme as that briefly suggested by Mr. A. M. Simons:
“Millions have died that the trampling war madness might end. It is better to see that they have not died in vain than to bewail their dying. War burdens must become a means of expropriation, not exploitation. Military mobilization at the front and in the shops and on the farms must end in democratic industrial mobilization for peace. The place that has been won for labour in the parliaments of the world must be strengthened and used for the protection of workers when the war has ended. The war need for women's services must lead to her complete political and social emancipation. The care of peoples in war must show the way to the abolition of poverty in peace."