Duty and Privilege

Christian Scientists stand for present and permanent peace. Indeed no one at all conversant with prevailing conditions in the war swept countries of the eastern hemisphere could but shrink from any step which would involve a peaceful and peace seeking nation in strife, against its deepest and most earnest convictions; but on the other hand, they largely realize that, much as they abhor war, there are other and far worse things than war which could happen to humanity in its present state of material belief, not the least of which might well be the loss of that civil and religious liberty which has borne its greatest fruitage within the democracy of the United States, and for the establishment and preservation of which so much has been sacrificed. They believe that the situation which confronts a peace loving people today is not unlike that of nearly a century and a half ago. To quote the words of a patriot of that day: "We have done everything that could be done to avoid the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated . . . Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult . . . In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation . . . An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!"

Not for a moment would we be understood as advocating war. War is horrible under any circumstances, but when the question of right or wrong is in the balance, and all peaceful means have failed, there is a vast difference between the declaration of a state of war which arms this country for its own defense against aggression and for the preservation of the rights and liberty of humanity, and war declared by an aggressor for offensive and selfish purposes. In the titanic struggle now going on, Christian Scientists the world over have followed their Leader in basing their hopes and efforts for peace in unwavering reliance upon "the Hosts" so eloquently invoked by the patriot statesman of colonial days. Nor are they to be condemned if, when the call of duty came, they remembered that Leader's counsel, "If our nation's rights or honor were seized, every citizen would be a soldier and woman would be armed with power girt for the hour" (Miscellany, p. 277), and felt themselves privileged to obey the call.

Warring with Autocracy
April 14, 1917

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