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became strained and determined. The delicate, almost frail forms of the women shuddered, and their hands instinctively clutched at his coat sleeves as if they would draw more closely under the protection of a great manhood. It was a vivid portrayal of the damnable moral tragedy that the free peoples of the world were trying to avert, and here was the secret that made a nation incomparably greatFrance has a national soul.
What an egregious blunder Germany made when she decided that America was too rich and selfish, too snug and comfortable, too flabby and visionless, too much a national jumble of incoherent and irreconcilable elements, too incapable of political unity and centralized effort, to oppose with the naked flesh the forces of frightfulness. Germany failed utterly to reckon with certain universal qualities of mind. There are times of moral exaltation, when men are incapable of fear. The Hun overlooked the verdict of history to the effect that it is impossible, permanently to frighten or fetter the human spirit. They seem to have been totally ignorant of the truth that in the womb of sacrifice great souls are born for noble purposes.
The United States is a nation in the making. The year 1776 witnessed her political birth, but 1918 will be known as the natal year of her national soul.
To analyze the soul of a nation and determine the several elements which enter into its culture is exceedingly difficult and in a sense impossible.
There are, however, four things which are pretty clear:
1. The nation that would have a real soul culture must first have a high regard for human personality. This is absolutely fundamental. It must treat the rights and prerogatives of the individual as sacred before God., Democracy is the collective soul of men fused and functioning as government. In France these rights and prerogatives are expressed in three magic words, “liberty,” equality," and “fraternity.” In England they find expression in the Magna Charta and the “Bill of Rights." In America we have our “Declaration of Independence."
Soon we shall have a League of Nations which is only another form of giving wider expression and scope to these fundamental rights of men. It is too soon to determine the new depth of meaning which the world war will give to all of these documents but one thing is quite clear; time and experience is pointing more and more to their common origin in the teachings of the New Testament.
In marked contrast to Germany's stupid characterization of American life and ideals, read this extract from a letter of a young sergeant from the 110th Infantry, of the Keystone Division. It is an attempt upon the part of a wounded soldier to interpret the mind of his regiment, and the words are so boy-like, so intensely human and generous that one canot help but feel that he has made articulate the true attitude of millions of young Americans. He has unconsciously lifted patriotism to
the realm of the moral and made it to vibrate with spiritual emotion.
“As a member of the old Fighting Third of Phillie, and in commemoration of my pals who fought and fell, I can say that the boys asked for no more glorious fate. They entered into battle with a smile, and, though many fell, the smile remained, a grim one, it is true, but a smile nevertheless.
“Through close contact with death it lost most of its sting. But the unsung heroes who fought and fell for democracy, who upheld tradition, met their Maker clean. They met all moral obligations, all patriotic demands. They were men and death adds to the luster of their sacrifices. Hardships there were galore, but they were overlooked for the
"It was a great adventure that they would not have missed, had they to do it over again, and they made holy the name of America.
"It is the most wonderful and sacred thing to be able to say, 'I am an American.'"
2. A second element that enters into the warp and the woof of culture is the idealism of the ages expressed in morals, art, literature, beauty, justice, and freedom. Culture is a spiritual possession inherited by nations as a sacred trust, to be utilized and enriched by the creative spirit of man and passed on to succeeding generations. Where there is true culture there is freedom of the spirit. America will become great in proportion as she takes time to absorb into her daily life the finer elements of Latin and Anglo-Saxon civilization which are essentially Christian. The natural liking of the American soldier for this assimilating process was everywhere seen by his eagerness to read many and good books and to attend lectures on French history, manners and customs. From the discussions which followed such occasions, it was plainly evident that while the United States would contribute largely to the future of the French people, France in turn was making a richer and more significant contribution to the life of America. Culture demands that a nation learn how to consecrate its science, invention, industry, and commerce, and the extraordinary wealth and power which these things make possible, to noble ends, which means that they must be permeated with the spirit and ideals of Christ. Germany in the hour of her greatest achievement, when out of admiration for her industry and learning, men were about to give her a large place-perhaps the foremost place-in modern nations, turned suddenly from the upward path of civilization and concentrated all of her genius and power upon a diabolical war of extermination. This conduct she sought to justify in the name of a spurious “Kultur.” How stupid, clumsy and mechanical the whole horrid conception was, we
It was utterly lacking in spiritual values and hence incapable of a single generous impulse. In a night men dropped back into a state of mind worse than barbaric. Germany betrayed her soul for a dream of world power. I have talked with thousands of German prisoners, some of them three years in captivity, others less than twentyfour hours behind the lines. They were all alike, sullen and dehumanized in the sense that they could not comprehend individual and national rights in the presence of brute force. The moral tragedy is complete; they have sowed the wind; they are reaping the whirlwind. All of this the American soldier has seen with wide open eyes and sensitive mind, and he is thinking, thinking deeply. In many discussion groups and conferences we talked about these things. I have seen young men shudder at the thought that America could ever barter her birthright for such a mess of pottage.
now can see.
3. If religion is the life of God in the soul, expressed in worship and good will toward men, and if politics is the science of just government, then we must conclude that religion and politics have their origin in the same great fountain source, and that God deals as directly with nations as He does with His Church. If God makes Himself real to men through the exercise of duty, loyalty, honor, courage, faith and love, and in right reaction to the eternal principles of justice, righteousness and self-sacrifice, then in precisely the same way, and in no other, must He of necessity reveal Himself to the nation. Some of the clearest revelations of God's purpose in history have come through His direct dealing with the nations. In the hour of great crisis the national soul turns instinctively