It may be that one day the gold plate with its diamond inscriptions may be stripped by some vandals — Macaulay’s New Zealander or another — from my sarcophagus. It may be that centuries later still the learned archaeologists of some nation yet unguessed, excavating the ruins of Westminster Abbey, may find those bones and send them to anatomists for examination.
The report of these anatomists may be something in these terms: “These are the bones of a mammal, a primate, homo sapiens. The skull is not prognathous; this person was probably a Caucasian.”
In such a judgment I acquiesce with pleasure. It would be limitation to be described as “this German,” or “this Japanese.” Man is man, and in him burns the mystic flame of Godhead. It is a blasphemy to discriminate further, to antithesize the Russian against the Turk, in any matter more serious than national belief, custom, or costume.
All advanced thinkers, all men who realize the divine plan, desire and intend the solidarity of humanity; and the patriot in the narrow and infuriated sense of that word is a traitor to the true interests of man. It may be necessary, now and then, to defend one’s own section of mankind from aggression; but even this should always be done with the mental reservation: “May this war be the nurse of a more solid peace; may this argument lead to a better understanding; may this division lead to a higher union.”
“A man’s worst enemies are those of his own household,” and the worst foes of any nation are its petty patriots. “Patriotism is the last resort of a scoundrel.”
The deliberate antagonizing of nations is the foulest of crimes. It is the Press of the warring nations that, by inflaming the passions of the ignorant, has set Europe by the ears. Had all men been educated and travelled, they would not have listened to those harpy-shrieks. Now the mischief is done, and it is for us to repair it as best we may. This must be our motto, “Humanity first.”
All persons who generalize about nations: “Germans are all murderers” — “Frenchmen are all adulterers” — “Englishmen are all snobs” — “Russians are all drunkards” — and so on, must be silenced. All persons who cling to petty interests and revenges must be silenced. We must refuse to listen to any man who does not realize that civilization itself is at stake, that even now Europe may be so weakened that it may fall a prey to the forces of atavism, that war may be followed by bankruptcy, revolution, and famine, and that even within our own lifetime the Tower of the Ages may be fallen into unrecognizable ruins.
We must refuse to listen to any man who has not resolutely put away from him all limited interests, all national passion, who cannot look upon wounded humanity with the broad, clear gaze, passionless and yet compassionate, of the surgeon, or who is not single-minded in his determination to save the life at whatever cost of mutilation to any particular limb.
We must listen most to the German who understands that England is a great and progressive and enlightened nation, whose welfare is necessary to the health of Europe; and to the Frenchman who sees in Germany his own best friend, the model of science, organization, and foresight, which alone can build up the fallen temple anew. We must listen to the Englishman who is willing to acquiesce in the Freedom of the Seas; and to the Russian who acknowledges that it is time to put a term to the tyranny of arms and the menace of intrigue.
The yelping Press of every country, always keen to gather pennies from the passions of the unthinking and unknowing multitude, will call every such man a traitor.
So be it. Let the lower interest be betrayed to the higher, the particular benefit of any given country to the Commonwealth of the whole world. Let us no more consider men, but man. Let us remember who came from heaven and was made flesh among the Jews, not to lead his own people to victory, not to accept that partial dominion of the earth, but to bring light and truth to all mankind.
Had the Saviour of Humanity deigned to accept the patriotic mission of driving out the Romans, he would have united his nation, but man would not have been redeemed. Therefore, his people called him traitor, and betrayed him to their own oppressors.
Let those who are willing, as He was, to accept the opprobrium, and, if need be, the Cross, come forward; let them bear the Oriflamme of the Sun for their banner, for that the Sun shineth alike upon all the nations of the earth; and let them ever flash in the forefront of their battle this one redeeming thought: “Humanity First.”