A PREFACE FOR FOOLS ONLY
I am not writing this preface for the conscious fool, but for his self-deceived brother who considers himself a very wise person. My hope is that some persons may recognise themselves and be provided with food for thought. They will usually be people who have contributed little to this war, except mean views and endless talk. Had they shared the sacrifice of it, they would have developed within themselves the faculty for a wider generosity. The extraordinary thing about generosity is its eagerness to recognise itself in others.
You find these untravelled critics and mischief-makers on both sides of the Atlantic. In most cases they have no definite desire to work harm, but they have inherited cantankerous prejudices which date back to the American Revolution, and they lack the vision to perceive that this war, despite its horror and tragedy, is the God-given chance of centuries to re-unite the great Anglo-Saxon races of the world in a truer bond of kindness and kinship. If we miss this chance we are flinging in God’s face His splendid recompense for our common heroism.
It is an unfortunate fact that the merely foolish person constitutes as grave a danger as the deliberate plotter. His words, if they are acid enough, are quoted and re-quoted. They pass from mouth to mouth, gaining in authority. By the time they reach the friendly country at which they are directed, they have taken on the appearance of an opinion representative of a nation. The Hun is well aware of the value of gossip for the encouraging of divided counsels among his enemies. He invents a slander, pins it to some racial grievance, confides it to the fools among the Allies and leaves them to do the rest. Some of them wander about in a merely private capacity, nagging without knowledge, depositing poison, breeding doubts as to integrity, and all the while pretending to maintain a mildly impartial and judicial mental attitude. Their souls never rise from the ground. Their brains are gangrenous with memories of cancelled malice. They suspect hero-worship; it smacks to them of sentiment. They examine, but never praise. Being incapable of sacrifice, they find something meretriciously melodramatic about men and nations who are capable. Had they lived nineteen hundred years ago, they would have haunted Calvary to discover fraud.
Then, there are others, by far more dangerous. These make their appearance daily in the morning press, thrusting their pessimisms across our breakfast tables, beleaguering our faith with ill-natured judgements and querulous warnings. One of our London Dailies, for instance, specializes in annoying America; it works as effectively to breed distrust as if its policy were dictated from Berlin.