A Disillusioned World

Anatole France, unburdening himself on the subject of the great war and its immediate effects, insists that the preponderating result is the disillusionment of Europe; he might have said of the world. Never, surely, has such a miserable accomplishment followed such tremendous expectations: that is, if the whole matter be regarded superficially. And yet to the looker-on, who can see something more than in a glass darkly, is not the disillusionment, supposing Monsieur France to have diagnosed the case correctly, an absolutely necessary preliminary to the millennium of the future? While the war still lasted, it was the way of the prophets of the millennium to talk and write as if the kingdom of heaven could be taken by storm, by those who were of the earth exceeding earthy. They seemed to imagine that an enforced sacrifice of material possessions, and the word possessions is used in its broadest sense, was an indication of the "ancient sacrifice"—the broken and contrite heart. Enforced sacrifices are, however, no sacrifices.

Mrs. Eddy, speaking of the necessity in religious matters for practice rather than profession, if anything is to be accomplished, goes on to declare, on page 16 of Science and Health, "A great sacrifice of material things must precede this advanced spiritual understanding. The highest prayer is not one of faith merely; it is demonstration." Now that thousands of people made and were willing to make every sacrifice demanded of them during the war, is certain. But they made it, for the most part, without any scientific understanding of the situation, whilst they were after all only a minority. The consequence is that the world, waking up to the fact that its material lot has not been improved, is overwhelmed by this sense of disillusionment. It has not, in other words, made the necessary sacrifice of material things, because, even when it has seemed to itself to do so willingly, it has done so believing in the value and reality of matter, instead of through an understanding of its nothingness. Its sacrifice, therefore, has been a sacrifice of objective matter, instead of one of subjective materiality, and, in consequence, it has left the person making the sacrifice fully under the impression that something has been lost instead of something gained.

October 16, 1920

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