Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Let them act openly. Inform the public and call for public support.

Men have tried to measure and harness the mighty energy of Niagara to the wheels of industry. They mourn this “waste of power.” Behold the vast potential energy of Christian manhood going to waste in this land of the free. Harness it to the machinery of government and then shall "justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream."

SOCIAL EQUITIES.

GEORGE LUTHER CADY, D.D., DORCHESTER, MASS.

classes

We speak to-day of problems, but the problems are one, the problem of an unrealized democracy. The history of social and political evolution is the history of the struggle between aristocracy and democracy, between special privilege and the common rights of all, between the men who are clothed in fine linen and fare sumptuously every day and the multitude who have nothing but the crumbs which fall from the aristocratic table. For some one has said that history divides men into two classes, — those who are booted and spurred and ready to ride, and those who are saddled and bridled and ready to be ridden. The utterly pagan words

and masses” lie at the basis of all social revolutions. In every age, however worded, “Equal rights for all and special privileges to none" has been the slogan of the disinherited, and slowly they have been wresting back from special privilege their rights. It was this that forced the agrarian laws from the hands of the patricians of old Rome; it was this that wrested from the reluctant hands of John the Magna Charta; it was this that gave a “solar plexus” to aristocratic pretensions at Runnymede; it was this that fired the shot at Lexington that was heard around the world; it was this that pushed the pen of Lincoln to set a million slaves free; and it is this which is sweeping over America, forcing men out of old party lines into new, and overturning the calculations of those who thought the crown sat securely on their heads; and it is this which will necessitate the appointment of a committee on the introduction of strangers in the next Congress, and it is this which has shot the bolt into the iron grating behind the backs of many a millionaire and politician who are still trying to figure out how it all happened. That which has happened to them is what happened to Louis XV of France and George III of England and Abdul Hamid of Turkey -- they have struck the ever-moving tide of democracy which is crying to-day, as ever, “Special privileges to none and

equal rights for all!” – for the people are coming to their own, and the people have never long been denied, for

“I would not give my least enduring song

For all the boasted strength of all the strong,
Should once the billion weak ones of the world
But realize their numbers and their wrongs.”

[ocr errors]

It is not hard to find the sources of this democratic inspiration - an inspiration which is taking as its motto, “Each man is to count for one, nobody for more than one”; or says with Kant, “Always treat humanity, whether in yourself or another, as a person and never as a thing ”; or with Justinian purposes to have "that steady and abiding will to give each man what belongs to him "; or declares with Tertullian, “The thing we must not do to an emperor we must not do to any one else"; for if we trace the stream of democracy we shall find it springing from that common fount of social and spiritual good, - from the Sermon on the Mount and the Big Brother of men.

Social inequity does not rise from the fact that men are greedy and selfish, that they are inhuman or unchristian, but that they have never set themselves sternly to the task of working out a consistent philosophy of life with Jesus Christ, who found the unity of all his social ideals to pivot on the intrinsic worth of a man as a man not man as a king, nor man as a philosopher, nor man as a possessor, but man as a man, and in that philosophy the crown on a king's head went into the same rubbish heap with the cord on a slave's neck; here Philemon and Onesimus reached over all barriers broken down and stood hand in hand as brothers. That a man is of his own self of worth slowly percolated into life, but it was this that Dickens found in his Christian surveys. Chesterton well says,

When you are saving a man's soul, even in a novel, it is indecent to mention that he is a gentleman. . . . Dickens, among whose glories it was to be a humorist, to be a sentimentalist, to be an optimist, to be a poor man, to be an Englishman, but the greatest of whose glories was that he saw all mankind in its amazing and tropical luxuriance, and did not even notice the aristocracy; Dickens, the greatest of whose glories was that he could not describe a gentleman.”

The call to the men of the Christian Brotherhood of America to-day is to join hands with President Woodrow Wilson, who declares, “I have dedicated every power in me to a democratic regeneration ”; but we shall find that the constitution and bylaws of such a movement is the teaching of Jesus. And the need of the hour is a revival of faith in Jesus — not so much of faith in his divinity, for there are hosts of enemies of democracy who will say the Apostles' Creed who yet have repudiated him as Master in all social and industrial relations. This assertion of the Lordship of Christ in all spiritual matters on the one hand and the repudiation of the Lordship of Christ in all social and economic relations on the other is the real formidable heresy of the hour. The vital struggle for orthodoxy to which the men of Christ are called to-day in America is the fight against the heresy that denies the Golden Rule. For social equity in its ultimate analysis is only the Golden Rule at work. To turn the Golden Rule loose would stampede economic and social life. There is only one thing which Wall Street fears more than the Big Stick, and that is the Golden Rule. To the rank and file of those who have named His name, Jesus is still the impractical dreamer, the economic enthusiast, whose teachings bear the same relation to our modern complex life that the Ptolemaic system does to our modern limitless universe. But Jesus Christ is either Lord of all or Lord not at all. He is either the Master and authority of all of life or of none of life. If he has no light to throw upon this modern chaotic social struggle, then it must go down in darkness unrelieved.

But he has, and that message is that any man is a man, any man is a son of God, any man is a brother. Any social equity based on other ground than this must needs have laws and bayonets for its enforcement; this becomes by its own inherent life automatic. To such a message and to such a propaganda every Christian man is called, and no higher duty ever devolved upon the men of the church than that of to-day, to insist that Jesus, now uncrowned in our industrial and economic and social relations, shall be re-enthroned.

We call this a Christian and a democratic nation and yet it is safe to say that nowhere in Christendom, outside of Russia (if that may be called Christendom), does a man get his measure for a man so rarely as here. The idea of Christian brotherhood has never penetrated even skin deep, or else men would not so

often be measured by the skin. “I thank Thee that I am not as other men are is the orthodox prayer of the American. The American has never learned the lesson of Howells in his “ Boytown," that “the first thing you have to learn here below is that in essentials you are just like every one else, and that you differ from others only in what is not so much worth while." What infinite cruelties and injustices have been practiced by men who believed that to have a white skin constituted special privilege and who reckoned along with the divine rights of kings the divine rights of the white! We are all glad to take up the white man's burden if that burden carries with it the privilege of asserting the white man's superiority, of exploiting the man of lesser breed, and making him know and keep his place, - a place which Professor Royce says reminds him of that "form of the exalted sport of international yachting in which the foreigner is invariably beaten.” But Chesterton points out that to be proud of one's superiority is a feeling not to be proud of. He tells us that there are three kinds of great men in the world. The first-rate great man is equal with other men, like Shakespeare. The second-rate great man is on his knees to other men, like Whitman. The third-rate great man is superior to other men, like Whistler." The average Anglo-Saxon has chosen his form of greatness to be third rate with Whistler rather than first rate with Shakespeare. But the scrap-heap of antiquity is full of nations who were drunk with the delusion of their own superiority.

At his best and his worst the Anglo-Saxon finds keen competitors. It took some eleven hundred years to evolute out of barbarism a Tillman who would say, We will have to see a few more niggers in hell first,” but it took only forty years to evolute out of barbarism a Booker Washington who could say, "I will allow no man to degrade me by making me hate him." Proud of my Anglo-Saxon blood as I am, yet would I rather bear up before the throne of God in my black hands the white soul of the one than to bring in my white hands the black soul of the other the one white with Christian brotherhood and the other black with pagan hatred. What shame greater could be ours than that the leading paper of St. Petersburg should defend the outrages of the “Black Hundreds" against the Jews by pointing to the American race riots and reminding us that —

« AnteriorContinuar »