The Unity of Civilization eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 291 pages of information about The Unity of Civilization.

CHAPTER XIV.  THE GROWTH OF HUMANITY

The need of a basis of right sentiments even greater than that of improved political machinery to secure international union.  We must start from patriotism and enlighten and enlarge it.  Of the three Western nations which lead in the arts and sciences, France and England through the war become closely allied in defence of a policy of the union of free and pacific people throughout the world.  The position of Italy, Russia, and the United States.  The increase of arbitral methods and the formation of leagues of peace or even of a world-state are matters calling for earnest thought; but the spread of the notion of humanity, the co-operation of all mankind in a common work is more fundamental and may be begun by any one at home.  This idea, starting with the Stoics, is fully developed with the advent of modern science.  It shows itself in many forms and the spread of exact science is its most powerful aid.  This is entirely independent of nationality and will be increasingly concerned with the alleviation of human suffering and the improvement of life.

The final test of a high international aim is the joint effort of the stronger peoples to protect and assist the weaker and less advanced.  The case of Africa and the Brussels Conference of 1889.  Analogy with the treatment of the young at home.

I

THE GROUNDS OF UNITY

In face of the greatest tragedy in history, it is to history that we make appeal.  What does it teach us to expect as the issue of the conflict?  How far and in what form may we anticipate that the unity of mankind, centring as it must round Europe, will emerge from the trial?

Only two occasions occur to the mind on which, since the break up of the Roman Empire, a schism so serious as the present has threatened the unity of the Western world.  The first was the Reformation and the war which it entailed down to the Peace of Westphalia.  The second was the struggle against Napoleon, terminated a hundred years ago.  The latter was in many respects a closer parallel.  It was a struggle of the independent nations of Europe against the overweening ambition and aggression of one Power.  It united them in an alliance which achieved its purpose and survived the successful issue of the war for some years.  Some such course, with a comity of nations far wider and more enduring than the Holy Alliance as its sequel, we hope and predict for the present war.

The struggle at the Reformation was less like the present, either in its causes or its course, but it has some features which make it a useful point for a survey of the permanent unifying elements which hold and will hold the West together in spite of occasional cataclysms and the clash of rival interests and passion.  A man like Erasmus, trembling before the catastrophe, willing to make immense sacrifices to avoid an open breach, uncertain of any final readjustment which might restore the harmony of the world, was not unlike some among us who hoped against hope that the enemy might be appeased, who thought that almost any peace was better than any war, who still fear that the breach in unity is vital or irreparable for generations.

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The Unity of Civilization from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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