« PreviousContinue »
no more right to decide with regard to England's motives than in the case of Germany's, and we are quite prepared to say that Germany has persuaded herself that her "motives" were right and proper. The damning fact remains that Germany knew she was doing wrong, wanted England to connive at her wrongdoing, and had the effrontery to suggest that after the war she would and could justify the outrageous failure to respect her treaty obligations. Past crimes and misdemeanors on the part of other nations do not change the issue, least of all in the case of the land of Luther and culture. Efforts to show that France first broke the convention are as disingenuous as they are vain, in the light of the Chancellor's frank admission. Records found at Brussels and interpreted in pro-German fashion cannot clear Germany of guilt, even if they proved anything except that Great Britain and Belgium were justified in mistrusting Germany. The case of Greece, as known thus far, is so different that one feels only pity or contempt for the intellect that cannot or will not see the difference, especially in the light of Greece's recent assurances of sympathy with the Allies and her repudiation of the spirit of her treaty obligations with Servia. Nor is the case changed in any respect if it shall be shown that Italy was actuated by sordid motives in entering the war. Germany started the process of self-sophistication and moral unreason, and it would not be surprising if some of the Allies thought it necessary to fight the devil with fire, however wrong such actions may be.
It may be said as to all three counts of the indictment that Germany was justified in acting in self-defence. Now the German government might conceivably have said to the German people: "I could not love thee, dear, so well, loved I not honor more." Let us suppose, however, that the German leaders esteem such a sentiment as "inefficient" and sentimental. Is the whole principle of international law to be thrown overboard to suit the conveniences of one nation? Will anyone dare to assert that only by going through Belgium could Germany save herself from destruction? Is the capture of Paris so important to efficient Germany that she could take no risks at all for the
sake of human rights and international law and morality? Would she wish her action to become "law universal"? If another nation had made the demand on her that she made on Belgium, would she have acted otherwise than Belgium did? Is the present government of Germany so sacred and important to the world, or even to the German people, as to justify the overthrow of legal and moral standards? These and other like questions Germany may attempt to answer, but she can hope to be listened to only at the mouth of her successful great guns. Germany's most conspicuous fault is her profound lack of sportsmanship. German officialdom has not behaved like a gentleman and a Christian. Is it incapable of feeling the meanness of much that it has done, from grinding under its feet a gallant nation,— some of whose citizens naturally enough fought venomously, contrary to their government's command,- to the shooting of the poor trained nurse who was trying to save men from what she regarded as the dangers of German frightfulness? Germany may ridicule England's propensity for sport, but Great Britain can teach her the larger sportsmanship for a long time, in spite of England's doubtful initial treatment of the Boers. It is cowardly to protect oneself at the expense of the innocent; how much the more distardly is it for a professional fighter, fully prepared, to pursue aggressive action over the body of a small and unoffending neutral.
Even if Germany is carrying out logically and effectively the actual moral tendencies of the nations, we can still say, "We expected better of you, O Germany, whose spiritual leaders were faithful so long to the best moral traditions of humanitarian culture." But, no; in Germany's opinion her aggressive safety is more important than international law and the code of international ethics. Efficiency first, morality afterward, seems to be her national slogan. She has had her hour of grace; she is going through her hour of blindness; God grant that she may repent before she has to go through her hour of doom. Suppose she wins her unrighteous fight? Then, no doubt, she will be ready to punish unsympathetic neutrals that do not put her supposititious "safety" above the interests of the law and humanity. As the Frankfort paper says, she will try to teach the
United States how to discriminate between Englishmen and Germans.
In the eyes of the disinterested neutral nations Germany is blind to the moral principles involved in this war. Indeed, I think that she can be judged by her own great ones of the past. Let us now set forth as concisely as possible the stages of spiritual culture as illustrated by leading German thinkers, and see, if we can, whether Germany cares for such things in her official conduct.
1. Vocational.- None better than some of the great souls of Germany have taught the basal truth of the dignity of the City of Man-Soul, and the eternal worth of each of its members. Lessing and Goethe, for instance, true patriots as they were, forgot not the patriotism of humanity and the sacredness of human personality in all men everywhere and at all times. On Lessing's broad stage all philosophies and religions play their worthwhile parts. The elect of earth are moral aristocrats by the grace of God, and their responsibility for service is commensurate with their power. Goethe taught the treasonableness of yielding to wild passion and the tragedy of hurting a human soul. To neither was a "place in the sun" for Germany the greatest of ethical aims. Let those who can imagine these giants jingoes of present-day Germany. Beneath all their thought and feeling and volition lay a firm and broad-based cosmopolitan humanitarianism. To them the real unit of the cosmos is the social individuality of separate human souls wherever they may be found. They would not have been mean enough to say, as some Germans have recently said, that the Germans can admire Shakespeare because he was not really English in spirit. For they knew that the most cosmopolitan man that ever lived was a Jewish carpenter, every fibre of whose character was typically Jewish. And yet Chamberlain, the high priest of German megalomania, tells us that Jesus was an Aryan!
Germany is eternally right in thinking that men and nations have missions. By what divine revelations, however, does she know that to Germany is given from this time on, the chieftain
ship in all human culture, if not the overlordship of the nations? He that is greatest among us shall serve the brethren. Shall Germany answer the question, Who is my neighbor? by saying, Germans, or Teutons ? Man's mission is to reach self-realization by serving God through service to mankind-man-kin. Why could not Germany be content to keep up her noble service of teaching the people to teach themselves? Has she ever shown any capacity for making other nations and races wish to swallow whole the idiosyncrasies of her own national Kultur? Was she not working her untrammelled way into the markets of the world as well as developing internally in a most wonderful fashion? Has she ever been able to specify definitely wherein other nations were unfairly retarding her progress? Is the world to be held responsible for the historical fact that Germany woke up too late for world domnion, even admitting that such a thing is a legitimate national ambition? Shall the largely accidental and half-conscious land-snatching of England be developed into a self-conscious world empire for Germanyand in this enlightened day? Just at the time when England is learning to give self-government to her dependencies, shall Germany expect to apply the Prussian yardstick to all things governmental and cultural? Germany may deny this lust for empire and dominance, but she cannot but admit her lack of sympathy with other types of national culture, her contempt for "barbarous" Russia and "decadent" France and "effete and hypocritical" England. Her nationalism has become a mania; her God, the God of the German tribes; her morality, German Kultur and "efficiency." If Germany can show that we are mistaken in these estimates, many of us will be very happy on account of the demonstration. But how can any disinterested person fail to see that Germany is not interested in the wide human sympathy of Lessing and Goethe and Herder and Kant?
2. Ethical.- Enough here to say that Germans like Leibnitz and Kant have taught us that each human being is a microcosm, reflecting the whole world from his own peculiar standpoint; that the moral law is a categorical imperative, allowing no sidestepping and permitting no nationalistic casuistry. Professor Dewey in blaming Kant's ethics is unfair to the Kant who wrote
the essay on universal peace, the Kant who sympathized with Rousseauan liberty, equality, and fraternity, the Kant who tells us never to treat human beings as things (even though they be Belgians), the Kant who put the golden rule of Jesus into philosophical language. What though his doctrine is twisted from its true meaning because of its use in the interests of arbitrary political absolutism instead of the absoluteness of the moral standard of the City of Souls! Morality, it is true, is not an ultimate end; that function is forever reserved for the Coming of the Kingdom of God; but it is a proximate end, as are all the great ideals of the true, the beautiful, and the good. Yea, all ultimate spiritual means are proximate spiritual ends, otherwise æsthetic, moral, and scientific and philosophical habits could not be formed, and the human race would expose its heritage to the deadly microbes of selfish subjectivity. Kant would not have denied that self-preservation is the first law of nature (not the last nor the greatest), the law of the natural man; but he would have scorned the miserable casuistry that would save some risk to the national skin at the expense of the national honor - especially when such a plea is put forward by admittedly the most efficient nation on earth about to attempt a "defensive aggressive advance" in the face of its opponents' unreadiness.
3. Mystical. It may be that the German overlords would scorn the very name of "mystic." But Germany has ever been the land of the truest mysticism. Two of her leading theologians, if not the two most influential, namely, Schleiermacher and Ritschl, though they cannot be called technical mystics, and the latter thought that he scorned mysticism, have taught the world to build theology on the principle of Universal Love. Now Christian Love is always mystical. It insists on believing all things and hoping all things, it suffereth long and is kind, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly. Contrast this central doctrine of Christianity and of the most influential German theology with German "Hymns of Hate," and the current German feeling toward England for doing her manifest duty and thus protecting her ultimate national integ