صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

example of such pioneers, leaders, rebels inspiring and compellingone of the important factors, indeed, of progress? How can we preach to the young men and women of today blind, unreasoning obedience to law and convention because of alleged presumptions and probabilities in favor of such law and convention when history tells them that revolt by individuals and small groups of advanced thought and exceptional moral independence has made for reform and evolution in the past?

These queries are pertinent and important, and one must answer them candidly. Certainly the law may lag behind the moral sentiment and enlightened opinion of a nation, or section of a nationwitness the American conflict over the extension of slavery and the rigid enforcement of anti-fugitive slave laws. Certainly taxation may be oppressive, confiscatory, unfair, and government may become corrupt, tyrannical and imbecile. In such circumstances there is a duty of civil disobedience and there is a right to revolt. Nay, in a free state there is no escaping the conclusion that when conscience and moral duty clash with formal law, the latter must yield to the former. The statute books are full, and always have been, of so-called dead-letter laws which are honored in the breach rather than in the observance—which public opinion has outgrown and forgotten, and which no rational government would attempt to revive and enforce for a day. Laws are often annulled or repealed by custom and general evasion and violation. The so-called general property tax laws of our American states may be cited as one current and striking illustration of this truth. Everywhere intangible personal property escapes taxation, and everywhere governors, legislatures, assessors and prosecutors bow to the inevitable and treat the law as a dead letter.

But one must be perfectly sure that a law is unjust, obsolete, unreasonable, unwise and unenforceable before one decides to ignore or break it. The appeal to reason and conscience in such a case must be sincere, real, frank. The trouble with many social insurgents is that they mistake personal prejudices for convictions, inconveniences selfishly resented for high moral sentiments outraged, and that selfindulgence is mistaken for devotion to principle. In the name of philosophic doubt unstable and unscrupulous men demand the privilege of disregarding restraints imposed by moral decency, by the consensus of reasonable opinion, by respect for human dignity and social solidarity.

The true man of science is never dogmatic. He may frame working theories, but he does not mistake them for established truth. He will adhere to his theory only so long as the facts sustain it. If new facts or new interpretations of known facts, throw doubt upon his theory, he will thenceforth treat it as doubtful and seek further light. He will welcome, instead of resenting, additional evidence, whether it tends to support or to undermine his theory.

There is, of course, no reason why economic, political, social and ethical questions should be dealt with in any other than the humble, tentative, scientific way. But science is not at war with common sense. It does not require us to be gullible, patient with manifest absurdity, willing to abandon positions taken after profound study and reflection and lightly swallow cock-and-bull stories. Prof. T. H. Huxley, for example, refused to devote time to the psychical research of his day on the ground that "inherent probability" militated against the worth or value of familiar "proofs" of spirit communication with the living—table rappings, medium trances, and the like. His mind, he protested, was not closed to real evidence; but he did not propose to waste his energy and valuable time on futile investigations. To engage in such investigations on slight pretexts is not to exhibit open-mindedness and tolerance, but rather to write one's self down as weakly amiable and wanting in discrimination. There is a time for inquiry, a time for suspending judgment, a time for revising a view, and a time for holding fast to that which has been tested and demonstrated to be true.

If science and philosophy must beware of undue conservatism, of pride of opinion, of arrogance, it must also beware of fabbiness, of superficiality, of excessive generosity to quacks and fools.

The proper study of mankind is perhaps man; but the indispensable preliminary study or discipline is logic and the correct use of words to express real ideas instead of pseud-ideas. The besetting sin of our age is loose thinking and loose writing. Persons who revolt against everything accepted in ethics, economics and sociology should be reminded of their inconsistency in not doubting their doubts, in not cultivating an open mind in respect of the results of earnest labor and reflection in the past, and of the teachings of vital experience. In their sweeping rejections they forget such principles as probability, presumption, preponderance of evidence, legitimate inference, and the like. Nothing is more futile, and nothing more impossible, au fond, to the rational human mind than universal skepticism. No science was ever born of or advanced by such an attitude toward the world.



ODAY, just as it was in Balzac's or Nietzsche's day, the world

is gionists seeking the niches of saints through the tactics of vulgarians and philistines. If their religious spirit was not weak and worldly their flesh would not be so willing to join in the ribald jubilee of jazz triumphant; nor would they find it necessary to develop that herd instinct which is used to replace a higher faculty's developmentmystic exaltation and spiritual communion. The modern age is seemingly set on that specious spiritualization of sensuality and commercialism which stops at nothing too sacred for spoliation, nothing too noble for debasement, and nothing too pure for adulteration or ravagement. This fake anagogy, this sham social uplift and phoney religious hypothecation, in practically every modern effort toward valid theological hypotheses, is the very antithesis and ultimate nemesis of both spirit and spiritual religion. It makes much over the delinquent delicacies of decadent art, the popularity of problemplays, sex literature, Sadist love-science and matrimonial bliss, but wholly lacks the mystic faculty, energy and ambition which alone can secure uis in an actual spiritual triumph and a consequent moral hegemony over the world's physical despotism and materialistic slavery.

There is no coward's valor, no sophist irenic, no philosophy by magic nor fiat science wherewith to obscure the issue, for we do not intend to be sed'ced by the rewards nor frightened by the punishments held imminently over our heads by a lot of sacerdotal soothsayers. Our ore chief conviction and confessional finds the only valid source of spiritual security now and hereafter in the simple fact that man was meant to stand erect by his own volition and effort, not meant to be eternally propped up like a straw man with external threats and penalties, seductions and rewards. It is no sign of virtue or spiritual achievement to always require the bolstering of outside discipline and dispensations, for these are cold institutional measures and do not function as direct congenial aspirations toward divine communion and enlightenment. True mysticism is spiritual exaltation and is not gotten like material acquisitions by addition from the outside world, but by inward effort, integrity and expression of soul. It has no magic formula for realizing spiritual truth or benediction, but rests its final goal on the merit of industry, the courage of faith, the innocence of piety and the con amore desire to live the life of Nature and know by direct contact and willing submission the laws of God and Cosmos.

Christianity is too often a negative religion; it is more often a vague and indeterminate renunciation of this world's duties and devotions than an intentional and whole-hearted embracing of whatever life awaits us in the next. It is also negative of humanity's best achievements because of its seeking to preserve the weak, helpless, afflicted, ignorant and foolish; in fact, it is really negative of the best possibilities of human life when it insists on limiting the genius and energy of exceptional personalities in order to maintain its mediocre ideal of a commonwealth of creed-foolish gregarians. It would set up a soft sort of artificial polity to replace the hard genuine provisions of Nature, and this negation of Nature is what will eventually prove its failure as a durable religion making perennial and priceless contributions to the world's future progress. It already effects but little persuasion on men of other mood or caliber than those of imbeciles and prebendary saints. Mystics, on the other hand, are neither conceited nor stupid, neither dogmatic nor negative in matters religious; they have no weak mercy nor maudlin sympathy for things worldly nor for delinquent people, for if these are corrupt they are to be shunned, while if they are malicious they are to be rendered harmless. Mystics have no sham ethics to hold them in emotional leash, and certainly no magic social hypothesis to give them a neurotic sense of freedom and happiness. Whenever they read the Old or New Testament they keep a good clear discrimination between the two gospels, appreciating the former for its patterns of human justice and the latter for its vicarious promise of Divine Mercy; but they read no external combination of Grace and Vicary into the Scripture that is now printed and published in a single binding—this being as ambiguous and misrepresentative of the original chroniclers' intentions as the Pocket Bibles which Cromwell distributed amongst his soldiers, the so-called Murderers' Bible, or the Sunna exegesis of Zoroaster's creed.

Many people are forever seeking some magic solution to their problems, some easy exit out of the struggle for a worthwhile life. They pursue a morbid patronage of mediums, fortune-tellers, soothsayers and other Nature-fakers who loudly advertise their claims to superhuman faculty, but little actual foresight or sincere advice is ever derived from this lazy pseudolatry. From the narrow wicket and cramped casement of their rhyomistic resort it is no wonder that they see only an increasing measure of misery, toil and trouble in the growing complexity of civilization, in the anxiety of modern restlessness and industrial revolts, in the very seductions contained in the new barbarism of liberty and its vulgar bed-fellow, sexual unrestraint and promiscuity, easy marriage and easy divorce. There are only two castes in the modern world, mystics and vulgarians; everyone is either a God-seeker or a world-seeker, either devout and saintly, wise and just, or else cunning and corrupt, ignorant and selfish. It is the business of moralists and social workers to distinguish them and try to give the spiritually poor something besides part of the rich man's pelf. The common instincts of religion do not sense this difference but mystics have the necessary clarity of vision, sympathy of feeling and chastity of judgment to understand why the vulgarians are interested in freedom more than in discipline, in recreation more than in restraint, and yet not be a companion to their debauchery nor be seduced by their fallacious bribe-tactics. Perhaps the most surprising feature of the whole vulgarian program is that your foolish worldling follows daily this looseness of moral fibre and still expects to avoid ultimate disaster; he spends his life gaming and expects to always win the last trick with extreme unction and viaticums to heaven. Whatever moral or religious distinctions he does happen to offer in an argument or other expression of his mental outlook are invariably based on values derived from below. from the downtrodden, the poor, the weak, the helpless derelicts of society. The fabric of the vulgarian's philosophy is coarse and shows many broken stitches, many faded and often ugly splotches on the design. Too much freedom and self-determination will prevent anyone from being humble, devout, sensible of spiritual things or mindful of the mystic phases of life and livelihood. The vulgarian always thinks some sort of magic formula is at the bottom of his success or failure, but the mystic knows that life's only art and magic consists in a conscientious attention to duty, a courageous

« السابقةمتابعة »