Signs of the Times

[Editorial in the New Outlook, Toronto, Ontario, Canada]

In the Far North, we are told, there are shelters built, into which the weary traveler may go for refuge from the bitter cold, and where he will find that kind hands have provided a plentiful supply of wood to replenish his fires. But the unwritten law of the Arctic says that the traveler must always leave the pile of firewood a little higher than he found it. Others have helped him; now it is for him to help others. This is also the law of our humanity. If we have benefited by the labors of our fellows, we are in honor bound to see that they also are bettered by our labors. If our fathers fought to secure our liberites, we should see to it that our children in turn are handed down this priceless heritage, not only unimpaired, but distinctly improved. We are the heirs of all the ages, debtors, as Paul put it, "to the wise, and to the unwise," to "the Greeks, and to the Barbarians;" now, in turn, we ought to decide that the future shall be in debt to us for our self-sacrificing toil which shall smooth their way and brighten their lives. Rightly understood, the missionary motive is the only one which we have a right to cherish. This is not only Christian, but one of the underlying laws of our humanity. We owe it to our race to free it from all its fetters. There seems to be universal recognition that the nation which devotes itself to the betterment of world conditions is the only one which is doing its full duty. This it is which unites the nations in a crusade against slavery, or in a determined effort to get rid of some common foe. We are coming to see more clearly than ever before that nothing can injure one nation without injuring the race, and so the well-being of all becomes the highest patriotism.

England cannot afford to forget China or Egypt; Canada cannot afford to neglect India or Africa; the United States cannot afford to forget Europe; and the whole world is bound together, for weal or woe, in such close alliance that what is good for one will be found ultimately to be good for all. No nation liveth to itself. ... We do not clearly realize this sometimes, but when we come to think calmly about it we see the force of the argument. The race rises or falls as a unit, in a very real sense; and we shall find that the race which undertakes to lift up another, even at the cost of great sacrifice, will find that it rises itself by that very fact. ... It is not enough that we hold our own, or retain unimpaired the heritage of our fathers; we must do more than this, if we are even to do this. We must leave the world better than we found it, and the degree of betterment will be the measure of our success as a nation.

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January 19, 1929

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