War and Peace

Nations which are organized on the basis of peace are naturally taken by surprise when they find themselves involved in war. For a nation to be perpetually on a war basis implies metaphysically that it is also perpetually at war, thinking war, planning war, preparing war. When this mental warfare translates itself into physical warfare the war nation simply continues to do in the open what it has been rehearsing in secret. There is next to no surprise and dislocation. The military, naval, financial, manufacturing, and agricultural resources of such a nation flow into the channels allotted to them, its intellectual life thinks the thoughts prescribed, church and state mix their ingredients in quantities prearranged, and a subsidized press enters into control of the daily news. If the problems of preparedness have been thought out in advance, the crossing of the imaginary line between peace and war can take place without great disturbance for the war nation.

Perhaps some one will say that in this war preparation the deciding factor of divine sanction has been forgotten. No, the war nation, dealing in false psychology and recognizing that humanity desires God's approval, has already provided for this apparent lack. It has already invented a false god and forced him to the front, so that when war is declared the march against the peace nation can proceed at once without any awkward religious questions demanding attention. The war nation insists that some pact or concordat between church and state is essential by virtue of which, and in return for services rendered, the church will agree to keep this false god at the front until the expiration of the war. No well equipped war nation can afford to be without some such ecclesiastical appendage.

Totally different is the problem of the nation which is inclined to peace when it is faced by war. Assuming the kindly intentions of other nations, it is conforming, in a measure, probably as closely as its understanding will permit, to the demands of individual rights and the ideals of liberty and light. Its resources tend to find markets without reference to international politics, its military and naval establishments are kept at a low ebb. When war comes every department of human activity receives a shock and the implements of war have to be manufactured from the very start. The worship of God and the practice of religion among enlightened nations are left to the individual conscience. But this last apparent disadvantage in war times will in the end be turned to God's glory and "the wrath of man" made to "praise thee."

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September 7, 1918

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