THE PREPAREDNESS OF THE FUTURE
By Commander H. O. Rittenhouse, U. S. Navy (Retired)
Motto: "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace."
Peace and Peace
Words like any other code of human signals are subject to misinterpretation. It is sometimes possible to express the same thought by different symbols, and it also frequently happens that the same symbol may be interpreted in more than one way. Every page of the dictionary gives evidence that words in general are not sharply outlined in significance, but rather seem shrouded in a penumbra of greater or less area by which they shade off into various and sometimes almost contradictory meanings. In a purely scientific discussion we endeavor to make meaning clear by conventional definitions. But great social problems involving complex human elements do not readily yield to the scientific method, and because of this we use terms in their ordinary acceptation, trusting that we may not deceive ourselves or mislead others. The results are sometimes unfortunate.
The word peace is one that may easily mislead us and, because of it, reasoning has not always been clear and conclusions not always justified. One very general understanding of the word peace is simply the non-existence of a state of war. And by war we here mean armed conflict with public enemies, foreign or domestic. In this sense the word takes no account of other struggles, hardships and dangers in which we might be involved. That is, to have peace is simply not to be at war. Whenever this kind of peace is desirable it is the easiest of all things to obtain. It always takes at least two to make a fight. Refuse to be one of the two and there is no fight, and therefore peace. Peace, in this sense, is always at hand, whether with the brute who violates a home, the mob destroying property and life, or the nation that would overpower us. This is the peace of non-resistance. It is a very natural thing indeed, but a radical error, for the people of a country who have enjoyed great happiness and prosperity in normal times, to believe that these blessings are the direct result and the deserved reward of not having armed public conflicts. To such minds peace presents itself as a cause, happiness and other blessings the effect.
Now there is another and a very different idea conveyed by the same word. Peace in this second sense is distinctly a result. It is the tranquility and satisfaction of both body and mind that follow right conduct and worthy effort. It is the harvest and fruitage after the toil of sowing and reaping; it is the enjoyment of health and happiness that comes from a life of temperance, self-denial and fair dealing. Collectively it is the aim of civilization, the desire of all nations, the hope of the world. It can never be obtained by inaction and non-resistance. On the contrary it must be purchased at the cost of struggle and sacrifice. The contest, for individuals and nations alike, is waged in both material and moral fields. Food, shelter and clothing must be obtained, rivers crossed, mountain barriers overcome, and disease eliminated. Selfishness, greed, poverty, vice and crime are to be suppressed and human relations established on the basis of universal justice. Such is the stupendous program that faces mankind. It is not of his choosing and it cannot be evaded. The plan of action is the task of true statesmanship, and the battle itself must be fought by brave men who flinch at no hardships, and who will endure no wrong. We cannot hope to name the day of complete victory. We press on to closer and closer approximations, sustained by the knowledge that every hard-earned advance brings its commensurate reward. Such peace is an end and not a beginning, a consequence and not a cause.
It is certain that many sincere and well-meaning- pacifists are mentally confused by failing to distinguish between these two very different meanings of the same word. They mistakenly believe that from the sickly peace of non-resistance will immediately issue the rewards reserved for those only who make heroic struggle and sacrifice for righteousness.
The Normal Life, War and Preparedness
In spite of the fact that history shows an almost unbroken record of wars, we are inclined to regard a state of war as exceptional to normal life, and we even cherish the hope that the exceptions are rapidly becoming more rare. When such view is entertained, it is inevitable that preparation itself will be regarded as exceptional, likely to be unnecessary and, at the best, an unprofitable investment. Thus we become slow and reluctant to take action, and our measures are sporadic and inadequate.
If however we look more closely into what we have called the normal life, it will be clear that contests with armed enemies constitute no such marked exceptions as we have been accustomed to believe. Not only do such contests come with a frequency that should keep us ever alert, but the normal life itself involves hardships and sacrifices qualitatively on a par with war, and often closely approaching it in volume and intensity. Year by year, fire and flood demand their toll of life and property and we must toil and rebuild anew. Tempests, earthquakes and disease decimate our ranks. Men are killed and crippled in factories and mines as in battle. Immorality, vice, crime and injustice double our burdens individually and collectively. There seems no escape from these evils in either time or space. Suffering and tragedy find their way into our homes as readily in times of so-called peace as in time of war. The normal life is a continual challenge to a warfare that demands the same virtues of courage, endurance and sacrifice that are associated with public armed conflicts. It seems more logical therefore to regard war as one of many items in a long series of evils, rather than as a distinct, exceptional experience. It may indeed be the culminating item among these evils, but an item nevertheless with many marks that establish it in the common class. War and peace, in fact, are but extreme phases of continuous national struggle. When the struggle is bitter and severe between national antagonists, we call it war: when it is less violent and confined to coping with adverse national forces in providing human needs, we call it peace. In passing from a state of peace to a state of war we do not exchange one kind of burden for another; we superpose the additional burdens of war upon the already existing ones of peace.
Since then war is not fundamentally differentiated from the major evils of the normal life, but the burdens and struggle in greater or less degree are ever with us, it is manifestly unwise to confine our ideas of preparedness to the narrow scope of purely technical military needs. It is not enough to determine and supply the number of horses, men, weapons, ships, aircraft, etc., that may be needed. Thorough preparation will, first of all, take cognizance of the vital factors in the normal life and so organize men, material and resources that in the event of war not only will the military branches be ready to operate effectively, but the entire nation will be prepared to contribute its full measure of support, power and endurance to the struggle. The vital processes of the ordinary national life must still be sustained under greater load.
Such fundamental nation-wide preparation might more properly be regarded as a preparation for peace. Its very existence averts aggression and discourages attack. It looks to no time serving, makeshift or fortuitous peace, but through painstaking constructive effort to the durable peace upon which the faith of civilization is fixed.
It is keeping the nation "fit" in all respects for its normal tasks precisely as an individual should at all times keep his body and his business affairs in the highest degree of efficiency. Under such conditions we enjoy the double advantage of realizing the best that peace affords and at the same time providing the best possible preparation for all the greater adversities to which nations are subject.
Even if the purely military elements are assembled in satisfactory number and quality they will not avail in a contest where endurance is the decisive factor. How far would the big fist and strong arm of an individual carry him in any physical struggle if the vital organs of his every-day existence were weak, diseased and undeveloped? Experience is indeed a dear teacher; but her lessons are worth the price if they can be learned no other way. Has our short experience in the present war yet taught us that success depends primarily and ultimately upon such things as bread, wool, coal, gasoline and contented field and factory labor? These are at all times the common denominators of life, and it is plain that victory hinges upon their adequate supply no less than upon the purely military elements at the trenches.
The principle involved has equal application in the spiritual domain where the issues of life are so largely determined. The moral qualities of unselfishness, courage, sacrifice and endurance, essential to success in the minor but inevitable contests of life, are the identical ones that are indispensable in war. It is not alone those at the front who must be dominated by an unconquerable spirit that fears defeat more than death, but those at home as well whose equal duty it is to serve and bear burdens of anxiety and grief without flinching from the yoke. Defeat by superior force of arms may be unaccompanied by disgrace; but no greater tragedy can befall a nation than to suffer defeat or submit to oppressive terms through speculative profiteers, purchasable treason, or weak-kneed pacifists behind the Hues, while her armies are not overcome. Thus the moral soldierly qualities upon which we rely for success in war are not of peculiar or mysterious origin, but are recognized as the homely virtues we undervalue and neglect in our common life.
We cannot fail to note that the necessity for such basic preparation is equally imperative, whether wars go on or cease. If they continue, the necessity is plain, for it is the life of the nation that must sustain the war, and this life must be kept at its best. But if the miracle should be wrought, and armed contests cease, it seems equally clear that the ambitions of men and the competition of nations will merely result in establishing the contest upon a more pacific plane, where the conditions of dominancy and survival will require precisely the same, or even a more elaborate, preparedness. The prospect, however, for such an attractive regime seems far from bright. If the world was deluding itself with the dream of an idle, selfish, indulgent peace, to be enjoyed without sacrifice and without the power that comes from physical and moral struggle, it has been rudely awakened. He is a bold prophet indeed who predicts that voluntary and general disarmament will be written in the agreements of the council table, and that nations will give willing consent to measures that restrict their means of self-defence.
Following the war there will be a long period of national readjustment that logically must take the direction of more highly-wrought economic and industrial organization than we have been accustomed to in the past. The financing of the war is creating an indebtedness that will bear heavily upon the people, and the task of easing the load as much as possible and securing the full measure of justice to all classes will severely test the strength of our democracy. Even if it were desirable, it will be impossible to go back to ante-war conditions and methods. There will be hardship and disappointment for many, and the entire national body must learn to sacrifice accustomed margins of profit to the widest and fairest distribution of the common proceeds of united endeavor.
Other nations will face similar conditions, and in the ensuing rivalries for advantage, rivalries which are, in fact, the unformulated determination to survive, success will rest with those who can best organize, sacrifice and endure.
By preparedness, then, we have in mind that condition of national being that will enable us to apply at all times, to the utmost advantage, the powers and resources indispensable to free and happy existence. When we reflect that our human lot carries no exemption whatever from the vigilance and activity necessary to the welfare of all animated life, it becomes evident that adequate preparation must be broad in scope and fundamental in character. It would be a serious error therefore to conceive of preparedness as something pertaining exclusively to a state of war. But we would be culpable indeed if we minimized the importance of such special preparation. It is understood of course that preparedness includes the development and training of naval and military forces, and the skillful use of the best weapons and devices that invention can produce. Advocacy of these measures will be assailed as "militarism" by timid souls who shrink from the sound of any word that suggests the suffering, the sacrifices or even the virtues of war. Their specious arguments would destroy effective defence of rights, liberties, homes and heritage against the outlaw and oppressor.
Manly prowess, the ability to defend oneself and one's family, the power to uphold right and suppress wrong is a supreme virtue. It is only its perverted application that deserves condemnation. This is no less true of a nation than of an individual, and it is only in the unholy purpose to which national power may be applied that militarism becomes a reproach.
Material Elements of Preparedness
A study of human activities may be resolved into a consideration of the basic elements called matter and force.
We transform and transport material things through the agency of the natural forces that we have learned in some measure to control. When force acts upon matter, power is manifested; and when we so control matter and force that the application can be made at the moment of our choice, we have potentiality; that is to say, power may be active or latent.
Fundamental preparedness therefore involves a study of all the material things that affect our well-being, together with the means at our disposal for adapting and applying them to our use. These material things are of great variety, covering different fields of usefulness and having wide ranges of value according to our needs and the abundance or paucity of supply. They range from such vital matters as food products to trivial conveniences; from sand to productive soils; from grasses to forests; and from water to the valuable ores. Of these the study should embrace our own available supplies and substitutes and the sources from which important deficiencies can be depended upon. It should develop the normal consumption of the important items and the increased consumption that may be demanded by war. It should include measures of conservation and limitation of output, in order that our national substance may not be wasted in riotous living to the detriment of our descendants, but rather that each successive generation may be a tenant for life, to use without waste, while the estate continues unimpaired.
Such study would include likewise a survey of all important industries and of the available natural powers applicable to the desired transformation and transportation of material. This covers such items as agriculture, commerce, mining, manufacturing and distribution. It would cover the full possibilities and the wise development of our water supply for irrigation, for inland routes of transportation, and for general power purposes. It would cover all experimental work looking to the application of winds, currents, tides, volcanic heat, solar radiation, etc., as useful agencies of power. It would cover road building in all its branches, for traffic by rail, auto cars and farm wagons.
Such itemization is in no sense complete, but is illustrative only as indicative of the purpose in view. Efficient and thorough work of the kind suggested could be accomplished only by a body of experts with ample means of collecting data and skillful in the compilation and use of statistics. They should be men of high intelligence and broad information regarding the policies, resources and restrictions of the leading nations of the world; and should be able to formulate the policies and measures best adapted to advance our own national interests. They should discover the times when competition between great industries has outlived its advantages, and should devise measures to replace it by co-operation. In a word, they should be national business experts holding the same relation to our government that the modern efficiency expert holds to the corporation he serves. Such a body might be called a Commission of National Resources and Efficiency. It should be under the immediate direction of a Department of Government, and its data, recommendations and reports be available for executive or legislative action and for private enterprise.
While war needs would be fully embodied in the scheme, they would not constitute the chief motive for the activity of the Commission. Such motive must be found in the desire to meet the needs and forward the aims of all the people in normal times, in a way at once efficient and harmonious. Such motive would spring from the knowledge that a contented people, living on the highest plane of progress and efficiency, is at all times fundamentally ready for any adversity and in the event of war need only take up its weapons. In a supreme struggle, neither individual nor nation can hope to improvise basic conditions of vitality and power that command success. These are of slow growth, the product of patience, and wisdom, the essential attributes of the statesman.
The imperative demands of the present war have led to the formation of numerous councils and boards whose functions are not always clearly defined and which may overlap and even duplicate each other. Constituted hurriedly in the hour of necessity, they are make-shifts to tide us, if possible, over a crisis. That we grasp so spontaneously at these means is the proof positive that such need as they endeavor to supply is real and urgent and should be anticipated before the day of trouble.
Upon such carefully prepared data the more specialized public and private enterprises could be developed to advantage. Foremost among these would come the specific preparation for national defence. Coast defence, inland water routes, rail and automobile routes, and aviation stations would be planned, and provision made for the manufacture and storage of war material to the minutest detail. This is peculiarly the work of our military experts, both army and navy, and may safely be left in their hands as heretofore. While it is not the purpose here to enter into specific professional matters, the temptation is irresistible to suggest aeronautics as the most important field in which the great war developments of the future will be made.
Our agricultural interests are of vast importance as fundamental to national well-being, and they demand the wisest provisions for maintenance and development. Food and clothing are imperative necessities. As compared with older nations, we are poor farmers and gardeners. Much productive land is unfilled while ill-nourished families cling to city tenements. We are wasteful of our crops both in field and home after we have grown them. We exhaust the natural fertility of our soils and abandon them to seek others rather than restore them by careful husbandry. Of course, such practice is largely due to the fact that we have not yet fully possessed ourselves of the bounteous natural supplies of a new and rich country. We still are "living in clover." But these conditions are already changing and we must soon practice the economies of older peoples. Public expenditure to assist those who produce our food and to encourage people to find their living from mother earth is wise investment. In the last analysis the social structure rests heavily, if not wholly, upon "the man with the hoe."
As another example of important subject matter, we may mention international commerce. It has ever been a most fruitful cause of war. The "permanent" peace of the world so hopefully predicted by some, so earnestly desired by all, will be measurably nearer when the vexatious questions arising from colonial enterprise and commerce are brought to unselfish national agreement. The big obstacle in the problem is contained in the word unselfish.
Commerce itself presents to our minds quite different aspects according to the phases under which it is considered. If we have in mind a collection of friendly nations, without clashing ambitions, whose peoples are content with life within their respective boundaries, we can conceive of commerce among them as a most pacific and beneficent institution, whereby desirable commodities are nicely interchanged without significant profit, and the only expense is the fair compensation to the carrier.
But commerce as it is actually practiced by the leading nations of the world presents a very different picture. The nations are by no means all friendly. They have conflicting aims. The people are not all content within their own borders and seek expansion by colonization. Some nations are strong, others are weak. Some are civilized, others untutored. There are large areas of the continents and some of the islands yet offering abundant natural resources of great value that cannot be appreciated, used or defended by the weak people occupying them. Greed cannot resist these temptations and, under the camouflage of "development," "progress," or what not, commercial enterprises are organized. The motive that actuates the leading spirits in these large transactions is financial gain. They endeavor to trade at the utmost advantage to themselves and eventually get something for nothing. The profits are brought home partly to be enjoyed by themselves and partly to be distributed among the people who convert raw material and distribute the manufactured products. When all works well this brings about a condition called "prosperity." All the great nations, of course, want prosperity, and its chief source is from the outside. In fact, to have general prosperity in a nation by inside trading only is about equivalent to lifting oneself by the bootstraps. Governments therefore encourage commerce notwithstanding the armed conflicts to which it so often leads.
The material force which, down to the present time, has steadied and regulated commerce with more or less justice, has usually been in the hands of one or more of the nations, dominant for the time being, and its exercise has been termed "control of the sea." The advantages to those who exercise this control render it a prize that makes peace always unstable. The world is now seeking relief from this situation by some new program sometimes referred to as "freedom of the seas." The term as yet has no settled significance and the program is but embryonic. Freedom of any kind, however, is never absolute. There is no valid liberty or freedom without law. Freedom of the seas, whatever it may come to signify, must in some way be supported by material force to maintain our conventions; and if such support, or control, is to be any improvement upon past conditions, it would seem to lie in concerted arrangement among a sufficient number of the great powers to make resistance on the part of the others futile.
Our country will demand its equal part in control and in participation of the world's commerce. It may go further and demand a world-wide open door with special privileges to none. The control will be represented by naval force, and our participation must be as active carriers as well as mere profiteers. Without the means of thus serving ourselves, we would easily be cut off in an international crisis. Our economic and industrial conditions make it practically impossible for us to compete naturally with the cheaper labor of foreign nations in the building and running of ships. We must therefore have direct government aid in these matters to safeguard the vital interests involved. Whether this aid is in the form of open or disguised subsidies or in the form of direct government operation is of minor consequence. The essential matter is the freedom and security that only our own ships, manned by our own seamen, can give.
It would be quite impossible in the compass of a brief paper to even outline the more important items of a material nature bearing directly upon the strengthening of our country. The items themselves are abundant and need not be listed here. The important point however is that it is during the normal life, and for the normal life that these provisions should be made.
If there has been any such comprehensive, careful planning, having in view the general welfare, it has not been made operative. Individual enterprise has been the usual procedure and the chief reliance. Such means may be the natural mode of development in a new country, thinly populated and offering attractive opportunities to men of courage and action. But there is neither system nor method in such means. The results are hurried legislation on the appeal of lobbyists, conflicting interests and claims, the development at times of suicidal competition and direct robbing of the people through criminal transactions in corporate stock. As the population becomes more dense and the common interests are seen to suffer by jarring conflicts, the necessity of method and system is obvious.
The Human Element in Preparedness
Wars may be won in the future, as sometimes in the past, by the longer purse, or again by the larger battalions. These are indeed desirable advantages and, other conditions equal, would naturally be decisive. But oft times "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong," nor can victory always be purchased by gold. Material things for the most part are of themselves inert or passive, and chance is an unreliable friend and a treacherous foe. But so far as control is possible and chance can be eliminated, the superior factor in war as in other fields of human endeavor, is man himself, the living element, the embodiment of will. In him is both matter and force so intimately compounded that the dividing plane between them, if indeed there be one, eludes our scrutiny.
In the general preparation for national fitness which has already been urged, and in the special professional preparation for defence, we recognize the full importance of material resources, weapons and skill; and in their development and application we cannot be too progressive. But important as these are, they yet are secondary. Outclassing them and prior to them in logical sequence comes the quality of citizenship that composes the nation. A nation weaker than another in the essential virtues of mankind is under initial disadvantage that will ultimately manifest itself in defeat, whatever the nature of the contest. It will be surpassed in the rivalries or peace and humbled in the strife of war. It is the mysterious power in man himself that fashions material, enslaves the forces of nature, and wills into realization the most daring visions. Thus the richest asset of any nation, surpassing in value its wealth of forests, minerals, flocks and herds is its human composite of body and mind.
But the output of humanity is not a uniform product. Individuals vary in physical and mental traits and in their powers and capacities, and social units display equal differences. East and West have their antithetic civilizations, and the narrow life of the Esquimau has little in common with the varied interests and luxuries of the temperate zones. Habits of living, occupation, food and general environment have their certain effect upon both body and mind, while the combined influences of religion, ethical and social ideals, and the specific training of youth, have at least equal force in the formation of national manhood.
We seek the highest standard of manhood. We want the healthiest bodies and the soundest minds possible. In athletic contests we all know the advantages of skill and the necessity of training; but do we realize that for supreme success the contestants themselves must be selected individuals? Superior physical and mental qualities manifesting themselves in strength, weight, will and endurance are necessary to produce a champion. "We cannot make a silk purse of a sow's ear,'' neither do "men gather grapes of thorns." Little use indeed of training an anemic, undeveloped tenderfoot for events in the heavy-weight class.
It is the essential manhood of our nation, the human stock of physical and mental power, by which, for weal or woe, we shall write our historical record. Nature and circumstance have combined to give us domain and resources beyond ancient realization or dream, and if we fail of honorable achievement, our fate will be the deserved consequence alone of weakened and vitiated manhood. If we aspire to the worthy success that constitutes the glory of great nations who have preceded us, and hope to enrich posterity by a still more enlightened and beneficent civilization, we must, before all else, establish our foundations in physical and moral integrity.
By personality we have in mind the qualities, attributes and conduct that distinguish an individual from his fellows. It embraces in particular his physical and mental traits. By nationality we have the corresponding conception of the qualities, attributes and traits that distinguish a nation from other nations. But as a nation has no identity except as a composite of its individual elements, so nationality, or national character, can be apprehended only through the medium of the individuals composing it.
On this basis is our national character satisfactory to us? Is it of high order? When our individuals are compared class by class with those of other nations, can we claim superiority in physical health, power, vitality and endurance? Do we surpass them in fundamental virtues, in moral rectitude and in the appreciation of unselfish social justice? Are we more skillful of hand, or more clever of intellect? When we consider among us, on the one hand, the weak, the diseased, the immoral, the criminal, the ignorant, and the insane, and on the other the strong, the healthy, the virtuous, the good, and the intelligent, do the desirable qualities so predominate that we are justified in complacent confidence? Moreover, and more significant, do we know in which direction the scales are turning in these vital matters? Are we improving or declining in the elements of strong and vigorous citizenship? While current statistics of disease and insanity and the criminal records of our large cities furnish material for grave reflection upon these questions, it is not the purpose here to discuss them, but simply to engage attention to their serious importance. It is as impossible for a nation, as for an individual, to enter upon a profligate, self-indulgent and pleasure-seeking career and escape the vices that spell physical and moral decadence.
To develop and maintain the highest standard of physical, mental and moral manhood in its citizenship is the vital problem of any self-respecting, self-reliant, forward-looking nation. Its correct solution will be verified in the answer of power and righteousness, without which no nation can long endure, as the records of both prophecy and history abundantly testify.
The Training of Youth
The problem centers in the training of children and youth, the natural, if not the only possible, stage of life wherein manhood can be effectively moulded. In what follows, the endeavor is to emphasize the important aims, point out difficulties and manifest errors in present-day practice, and offer remedial suggestions. A human personality will be regarded as a compound of body and mind. The term mind, therefore, is used in its most comprehensive sense to embrace everything that is not obviously material. Thus the emotions, the will, intellect, memory, etc., are departments or phases of mind, and when mentioned the reader will conceive of them as parts only and not the whole. Those who believe in a trinity of elements including what is sometimes spoken of as spirit, or soul, are asked to shelter this also under the general designation of mind. This is merely a convenient definition to secure common understanding and is not advanced as a theory to be defended.
From the viewpoint of natural development, physical health is the foundation of successful life. Man is manifest to us first as an animal. Even the infancy of the individual mirrors to us the infancy of the race, as we see the babe come into the world with adequate physical equipment before it can manifest self-consciousness.
Robust physical health, every organ and every cell vibrant with life and energy, untouched by disease, represents to our thought the first requisite of perfect manhood. Starting with this endowment alone it is possible to forecast all the triumphs of civilization. Thus human power and human happiness, the pursuit of which is our undeniable heritage, rest primarily upon physical wholeness or health.
But mind and body are combined to produce a mysterious unity. Their mutual reactions are so certain and complete as to suggest an ultimate identity. Priority cannot be asserted with confidence. There are those who influence and cure physical ailments by mental treatment. Physicians habitually seek first of all to inspire hope and cheerfulness in their patients. On the other hand, it is an every-day occurrence to remove mental defects by scientific surgery.
If, therefore, we could attain an ideal perfection of body and an ideal perfection of mind, the combination would be ideal manhood. Thus are we led to the homely truth and simple program upon which great nations of the past were reared. In the training of youth no clearer, simpler, nor more comprehensive expression of aim has ever been formulated than the classical maxim, "A sound mind in a sound body." Upon what other or more stable foundation can a nation hope to endure in goodness and power than vigorous bodies, untainted by disease, and sound minds free of disorder and vice?
Any misgivings as to the reasonableness of these conclusions are quickly dissipated in the clear light of history. In Greece, for example, youth were trained physically and morally in their homes by parents and in the camps and gymnasiums by teachers. The body had its special discipline; pride in physical excellence was encouraged and its attainment rewarded. The mind was softened and harmonized by music and enlarged and made sympathetic by memorizations from the poets. From such simple methods resulted a civilization that still furnishes many of the standards of modern culture.
Rome adopted much of the Greek method and fortified it by strengthening the discipline in the home where the father had almost absolute authority over his children. Obedience to parents and to the state was accounted among the highest virtues, and respect for the law pervaded the empire from capital to remotest province.
Possibly the most striking illustration is found in the Hebraic records. The rules established by Moses for the up-building of his people were characterized by the stress laid upon physical and moral purity. Cleanliness of body and care in the preparation of food were balanced on the spiritual side by a moral code so essentially fundamental and satisfactory that succeeding social systems have found no better. By the insistent training of children in these elemental virtues, under conditions precluding the possibility of anything like modern books or schools, a body of slaves and rude peasants, wanderers of the desert, was transformed in a few generations into an organized nation that produced political leaders, statesmen and poets whose influence yet remains a most potent factor in Western civilization.
To master the horse, to use their weapons, to speak the truth and to honor womanhood: such was the basis upon which princes were trained in the days when knighthood was expressed in terms of courage, service and loyalty. Strong physical constitutions, disease resisting, and wholesome minds dominated by virtue, have ever been and will continue to be the basis of human power. As naturally and as certainly as a good tree in good soil produces its wealth of foliage and fruit, so will come spontaneously from these elements of manhood the fruitage of all human excellence; statesmen, artists, poets, warriors, philosophers, and all else that may be demanded by worthy aspiration. Without such foundation, individuals and nations, alike and together, suffer the fate of the house built upon sand.
It is not without significance in this connection that, while fundamental training has been neglected almost to the point of abandonment in our civil public educational institutions and is fast disappearing in the home life of our city masses, its vitality has been preserved through the unbroken line of military necessity. Military authorities from the most ancient times, in their endeavor to develop human power, have realized that it is based on health and character. The benefit and virtue of all military training lie in these things first, and only secondarily and incidentally in the rapid movement of groups and the skillful use of weapons. It is because of its efficiency that such training is used by military men. No one claims that it is the best because it is called military; but it is military because it is the best.
In face of these facts our leaders neglected sound preparation because of fear of "militarism," and our educational authorities carefully withdrew their sacred gowns from contact with military training. Ignorant alike of its methods and virtues, they denounced it as depressive and brutalizing, while the records overflow with the testimony of the deep humanity, the nobility of character and the heroic sacrifice that have ever been the product of soldierly training on land and sea. Strange, is it not, that when the impact of actual war disturbs their placid content and they realize the need of supreme effort in both the physical and moral domain, they forsake their intellectual idols and embrace the principles and methods of their lifelong condemnation! Yet these very principles are as indispensable and potent for the needs of peace as for the victories of war.
That military training develops the highest appreciation of moral values is the verdict of history as we scan the lives of military men. Contrast of the exceptional with the general record makes the truth more vivid. The pages of these proceedings themselves support the contention. The most cursory reading of the various articles published during the last 10 years relating to preparation and success in war, will show them shot through and through with the importance of the moral element, and it is doubtful if they can be matched in this regard by the corresponding output of any other purely secular institution.
There are innumerable factors involved in the development of a civilization, but among them are three institutions whose influence is, in large measure, determinative. These are the church, the home, and the school. These stand pre-eminent as moulding forces of social character and progress. From the religious domain are drawn those forces that mellow and vitalize our spiritual natures and quicken our sensibilities to the impress of right and wrong. From the home we derive basic knowledge and experience of what contributes to our physical welfare. We here acquire also the lessons of obedience, respect for parents and for the winnowed wisdom of experience, the entailed heritage of the ages. From our schools we rightfully expect knowledge, intellectual development, respect for law and authority, and the formation of habits embodying the accepted virtues.
Regarding these institutions, it is plain that the vital matter to consider is their ultimate donation of beneficent impress which is but crudely and imperfectly listed above. We scrutinize their product and have but little concern with their forms and functioning. These are often subject to radical changes which cannot always be credited as progress. Religious thought and expression change with the generations: home life is one thing in the country and another in the city, and varies in both; while the principles and practice of public education are hopelessly unsettled. But whatever the external form or internal mechanism of these institutions, they must be judged by their results. The acid test of their worthiness is the contribution they make to the physical and moral health of the nation. If they are not working successfully to the common purpose of endowing childhood and youth with strong bodies and sound, disciplined minds, their essential mission will fail, whatever spectacular success they may seem to achieve.
Adequate review of these great institutions is a task concededly too vast and difficult to be undertaken here. But there are some outstanding facts regarding them worthy of notice that have direct bearing upon their individual and collective efficiency. The church does not hold the influence over the people it enjoyed in the earlier life of our nation. This is more particularly true in our large cities, where a pleasure-loving, self-indulgent element and a developing attitude of skepticism have weakened its capacity for service. The Sunday schools are loosely held together by entertainment rather than instruction, and at the best but little can be accomplished in a brief session once a week.
Industrial conditions and social tendencies have conspired to the rapid development of large cities, and for multitudes of children in them there is no real home life or home discipline. Their domiciles are unattractive and often uncomfortable abodes, whose most serviceable function is to provide a sleeping place. Conditions of employment deprive the children of paternal supervision. Many see their fathers only at infrequent intervals. The mother, burdened with household duties, is precluded from efficient care of her offspring, and the children live and are brought up on the street. The family, as the unit of social development, has here dissolved into neighborhood life, colony life, or gang life. These natural street associations constitute, virtually, a new social order, unregulated as yet by any adult agency. This uncontrolled street life and its criminal consequences stand in menacing contrast to the virtuous homes upon which our ancestors founded the nation.
Our institutions of learning, both public and private, are the result of a development that has been far too rapid for the establishment of well-digested systems of training based on wise national policy. The outstanding features to notice are first, the marvelous influence which these institutions have acquired over our national life. Partly by displacement and partly by absorption they have established undisputed primacy over the church and the home as moulding forces of national character, thereby greatly disturbing the accustomed balance. Secondly, the educational aim has been characterized by intense effort along intellectual and scientific lines, drawing largely from European models, accompanied by unpardonable neglect of sound training in health and character.
Such, briefly, is the existing condition of the chief agencies by which our national character and power are to be developed. Exactly in proportion as they apprehend the true nature and gravity of their task and harmonize their efforts to its accomplishment, will the integrity of our citizenship be established.
The Weakness of Public Education
Our children of to-day are the citizens of to-morrow. There is no possible way of producing good men and women except by training children to be such. The good man, the good citizen, is characterized by power of body and mind. Physical training for the body and moral training for the mind must be the foundation upon which all specialized or subsequent training is based.
With rapid movement during recent years, the public schools have, in large measure, absorbed the functions of the church and the home in the training of youth, and the process is still going on. As the schools accept this greater degree of responsibility, they must be answerable for the results. The results are not encouraging. Public educators have mistaken their chief duty and the people have deceived themselves by unjustified confidence and trust in a weak system. Education is a term of the broadest possible significance; but its commonly accepted meaning has been so narrowed that it almost wholly excludes fundamental training. In practice, the public school system of the country identifies "education" with scholarship and culture. These, of course, are worthy attainments, but valuable only as the accomplishment and finish of the human product, not as its substance. Our universities, colleges and other private institutions of learning may find justification in such aims, but public education, having a deeper and more vital purpose to serve, can take no doubtful chances with the foundation and walls of the social edifice. Superstructure and ornament must wait upon safety and durability. The praiseworthy results of the system are loudly acclaimed and well known. They are found in college entrance examinations and in percentages of scholarship. But outside of this narrow domain, where the great masses of our people must get their daily labor, even after their compulsory education, the picture is not so bright. Alienists tell us that the percentage of insanity is increasing. Criminologists tell us that our nation stands among the worst in its record of murders and other serious crimes. Social welfare investigators testify to the increase of vice and immorality. Medical men testify to the increasing prevalence of pernicious diseases. The vast majority of criminal offences by hold-up men, gunmen, gangsters and thieves are by youths and young men from 16 to 26 years of age, all of whom have been subject to our educational methods, and not a few are graduates of our high schools. When our country calls upon its manhood for defence and in some districts over 50 per cent of its young men are rejected for physical reasons, something is wrong.
Failing in our schools to establish the moral qualities as supreme, discipline itself has become weakened, and we are not only accustomed to sporadic rebellion in classrooms, where the sweet influence of woman is relied upon to persuade young bullies to do right, but we witness the wholesale "strikes" on the part of children to force the hands of authority. The first duty of every nation is to train its children, and these children have not been trained, however much they may have been "educated."
What other results can be expected when our public educational experts clasp hands with the faculties of our private institutions and join in the one common aim for scholarship? Success of individual teachers, success of principals and schools, success of municipal school superintendents, and, in the ultimate, success of the entire system, is adjudged by the standards and aims of our private institutions. The machinery is geared primarily to the process of making scholars, and citizens come out as they may in the by-product, with false socialism, anarchy and other scrap.
What other results can be expected when the advancement of teachers depends upon their pupils' success in scholarship, and the most highly rewarded qualification is to be an expert coach for examinations? What else may be expected from a system that rewards scholarship success of its pupils with honors, while sterling character, unless accompanied by an arbitrarily assigned grade of intellectuality, is contemptuously pronounced a "failure"? What, finally, may we expect from a system whose rank and file have not been subject themselves to direct moral training, are ignorant of its methods, and are not required to present it as a part of their professional equipment?
In the training of youth to whatever specific or general end, no greater mistake can be made than that of permitting intellectual brilliancy and culture to blind us to the supreme value of character. Such is precisely the mistake that pervades the administration of public education throughout our country to-day, and its effects in our large cities have already become a menace. The weakest section in the whole fabric of our government at this hour is the lack of good training of the children.
The attitude of our educational authorities, if not positively unfriendly, is one of indifference to the appeal. Some assert that the home, not the school, is responsible. Others believe that to seriously undertake training would necessitate curtailment of book lessons. Still others maintain that there is no direct way to build character; that it is acquired only by indirect processes, such as good literature, good example, good associations, etc. A few uphold the fatalistic theory, that some individuals "catch it" as they do the measles, while others are impervious.
In conjunction with these conditions there has been a too ready disposition to accept novel and radical educational schemes whose chief claim to recognition is the rejection of time tested foundations. It is openly advocated that children should not suffer direction or control except as measures of extreme necessity, and should be left to discover for themselves the disciplined pathways of life that it has taken centuries to disclose. Some go so far as to deny that obedience is a virtue and decry it as the mark of servitude.
It is a safe statement that never before in the history of the world has the cult of intellectualism so dominated the education of youth as it does at the present time. Pure intellectualism at the best is still the half brother of materialism; and when they are permitted to join forces as the controlling elements of civilization, while physical and moral manhood are neglected, we should cease to wonder at the difficulties of government and the violent outbreaks that disrupt society.
Such doctrines and practice are but timid yielding to "the easy way" in a situation where courage and confidence are needed. Disappointment, discontent, disorder and anarchy follow in swift sequence. If the citizenship of the country is not trained to loyalty, duty and obedience, government dissolves into social chaos, until restoration comes by a man on horseback. The heroic men and women who settled our country in its earlier history were trained to these disciplinary virtues by spiritual-minded parents who could make little claim indeed to scholarly accomplishment, but who knew the profounder lessons of life.
Such conditions and tendencies are by no means unknown to history. Greece had her similar experience and failed to respond to the warnings of Socrates and Plato. From the abundance of authorities upholding the fundamental virtues as of unrivaled importance, a few selections are given, and it is interesting to notice how accurately the language applies to our common sense thinking of today.
The importance of physical training is gaining recognition throughout the country, and the development will undoubtedly be stimulated by the war training our people are receiving. The poor physical showing made by the draft call should awaken our authorities to its urgent need.
We can hardly hope for systematic effort in the homes at present. But as children profit by physical training themselves, and in turn become parents, it is reasonable to believe that they will have more than passive solicitude for the health of their children and will be actively efficient in maintaining a healthy environment for the home. Moreover, they will be more interested and aggressive regarding building and sanitary legislation.
It is in our educational institutions where we will naturally look for the greatest improvement. Physical training was late in getting a foot-hold in our schools, where it is admitted to a small place in the program and receives a sort of stepchild's welcome. It is unfortunate that our public schools seem unable to pursue independent aims of their own, but must follow in flattering imitation the methods of the private colleges. Consequently, in athletics they must have their spectacular contests with picked teams. This leads to a concentration of interest on the part of a few, who often over-train and over-strain, and to the lack of good wholesome recreation on the part of the multitude. Pandemonium under the leadership of an emotional buffoon is no compensation.
The entire student body of the country should be under vigorous systematic training. Intercollegiate and interscholastic contests are desirable and no doubt there will always be specially prepared teams. A variation of the present method might prove of interest. When a match between two institutions is proposed, permit each institution to select out from its entire corps 20 per cent of its number. This would withdraw the crippled, the weak, and the general ineligibles. Let the contestants be then drawn by lot from the remaining 80 per cent. The teams made up in this way would be fairly representative of the general athletic condition and skill of their respective institutions. This method would furnish inducement for all to keep in training, and the result would be a better test of the comparative methods of the institutions than as at present.
It is freely acknowledged that it is easier to recognize faults than to find remedies; but the following suggestions are offered:
Up to 18 years of age there should be two periods per day of drill, exercise or play. This should be in the open air. A crowded gymnasium with poor ventilation is injurious.
In our public schools the periodical reports to parents should include the weight, height and chest expansion of each pupil. This would carry to the home live interest in the development of the children, and it also furnishes quick indication of constitutional illness.
Vocal training is a powerful factor in the promotion of health. Lungs, throat, and nasal passages are stimulated and made disease resisting. Posture is improved and deep breathing established. If the time now devoted to elocution, reading aloud and singing could be doubled, the advantages would far outweigh whatever seeming sacrifice it might involve.
Fresh air, sunshine, wholesome food and sound sleep are nature's immediate agents in the development of the young. It is natural and necessary for children to be physically active; it is unnatural and harmful that they keep seated in constrained posture for long periods. Physical activity until the body is thoroughly fatigued is the best inducer of sleep, and it matters little whether this takes the form of work, play, or varied exercises if it is not carried to the point of exhaustion. To seek the bed early because of bodily fatigue, with the mind undisturbed, is far more rational than the practice of school routines that keeps the body comparatively idle during the best hours of the day, while the brain is kept at high tension. If the body is yet physically energized while the mind is fagged, sleep at the best is unsatisfactory and nervous reactions are inevitable. The mind is "younger" than the body, in the sense that its development is later and slower. If, then, it is criminal to over-work children physically, it is fiendish to over-work them mentally. If the ancients ever fell into this error, the records are missing.
The expression "moral training" falls easily from the lips and flows smoothly from the pens of educators and up-lifters. As indicating a purpose and a desirable result, its meaning is quite clear; but as descriptive of the process and means by which the aim is to be reached, there is much evidence to believe that it carries diverse meanings and that its practice, as complementary to physical training, is almost a lost art.
The vagueness that attaches to the term may be charged partly at least to the word "moral" itself. In the minds of too many people moral training signifies instruction in a code of ethics, to be learned as one would learn a book lesson or memorize a set of adages and precepts, after which it is hoped that the appeal has been so convincing that the learner will make them the guide of his life. Either of the terms "character" training or "conduct" training would be less liable to this misconception. Moral training is such training as will develop good habits and good character and good social conduct in an individual. It is effective at all stages of life, but its influence is greatest during the years of adolescence. Conspicuous among the desired results are certain recognized virtues whose origin is beyond historic search and whose value as directive forces in human life is confirmed by each succeeding age. Among these we may mention truthfulness, honesty, obedience, loyalty, honor to parents, deference to age, respect for law, sense of duty, self-control, courage, patience and endurance. The possession or lack of such virtues in an individual is recognized by his open conduct. It is true that we cannot look into the hearts of men and discover motive and hypocrisy; but it is equally true that it is usually unjust to the subject and harmful to ourselves when we attempt to do so. In the long run, conduct is the expression of character and it is the most reliable of all tests. Character has direct relation to our habitual actions, to what we do. It may have but very little relation to our consciousness of what we ought to do. Conversely, it is known that character is largely the result of habit. Actions repeated merely as drill, or from any outside stimulus, impress mental patterns that operate involuntarily when the stimulus is suggested. The old saying that thoughts lead to deeds, deeds repeated make habits, and habits make character, asserts the same truth. But deeds, habits and actions of all kinds constitute conduct. Thus we find conduct and character complementary and mutually re-active upon each other. They are as closely unified as are the respective totalities of mind and body of which they are, in fact, but phases. Thus we may regard character as a state of mind, and conduct as the physical manifestation of this state. Or, conduct may be conceived as a course of action, and character as the resulting impress on the mind.
This brings us to the point where we can see that moral training or character training is essentially a matter inseparable from conduct. The time-honored principle, "we learn by doing," has here its full application. There is nothing of mystery or of difficulty in the practice of moral training, and it is far more effective when applied to groups than to individuals. Good habits are established and character is moulded by regulation and supervision of conduct.
This is precisely the method used in all good military organizations, and its effectiveness in making over undisciplined, raw adults into worthy loyal citizens, filling positions of trust afloat and ashore, is convincingly shown by our naval records. The younger the recruit the more certain the benefit. The practice of obedience to rules and regulations, established for no other purpose than the common good of all, soon begets the habit of asking the questions, relative to any contemplated action, "Is it right or wrong?" "To do or not to do?" A mind habitually sensitive to these questions is under moral training. It is very doubtful if the graduates of our National Academies fully appreciate the value of the "Conduct Record" as the very foundation of their training. We may at times have felt the sting of injustice—for human devices are imperfect—but if there is any justification for the belief that no body of men have held the standard of honor and duty higher than ourselves, it is due to the training based on the democratic publicity of the conduct record, reinforced and vitalized in us by the example and precept of our worthy superiors.
Preliminary to a just appreciation of moral training is the necessity of comprehending the full and beneficent meaning of the word obedience. Unless this is done, the best instruction and practice may fail of response and even opposition may be engendered.
There is a very narrow conception of this word as it is applied to the relations between a cruel tyrant and his subject, a harsh master and his slave, or a severe parent and his child. In such cases we recognize a kind of obedience compelled by force. It is the obedience of subjection. Servitude would be a better term. Its results in extreme cases are degrading alike to both the parties affected. Even where the relations are more liberal, the word carries an unpleasant suggestion from the necessary punishments connected with disobedience.
On the other hand, obedience from the earliest times has been regarded as a basic virtue, and ethical writers and philosophers proclaim it as indispensable to human happiness and a moral or religious obligation among men. Church and state authorities are urgent that parents establish it as a habit in their children. It is the characteristic virtue of the soldier.
We do not have to look far for the reasons upon which such faith is founded. In the world of nature about us matter of all kinds yields obedience to gravitation. Because of this there is majestic harmony in the great sun systems of the universe, and we walk, operate and build on the surface of the earth with confidence and safety. No less true and beneficent is the obedience of atoms to the laws of chemical affinity. Conceive for the moment that all this uniformity is the result of an assumed volition and the disastrous consequences of disobedience are obvious. Thus in the material world we may think of obedience as the solvent that reduces chaos to order. In human affairs where mind is involved and volition is exercised, the conditions are analogous to those of the illustration. Where there is a law we have either obedience and order or disobedience and anarchy. But we are constantly under the influence of law and cannot escape its operation. As individuals we are subject to such obvious laws as those of gravitation and health. In obedience is safety, in disobedience, injury. In our social relations we find ourselves subject to laws so mysterious and fundamental that we ascribe them to a divine source, and in addition to these are rules unmistakably of our own discovery and application that cover the entire range of human conduct. The experience of the race is an unceasing lesson that in obedience to these laws lies the only path to order and happiness.
That obedience has ever been held in such high esteem may be better understood when we reflect that other eminent virtues and qualities are essentially of its substance. As examples, we may cite loyalty, honor to parents, respect for law, duty and self-control. These have significance only after they have passed from mere mental recognition to find expression in action; and the action that manifests the virtue is none other than obedience to some outward or inward appeal in behalf of right.
Obedience is thus seen to be the voluntary response in all our conduct to do right. It is "playing the game" whether the rules always please us or not, whether we sometimes suffer or not. In a purely personal matter, right is determined solely by the voices from within; in social matters, others are also involved, and right is usually determined by the voice of experience in written or unwritten law.
There can be no government without obedience. Government implies two complementary parts, law-making and law observance. Whether in a monarchy or a democracy, if observance fails, lawmaking is futile and government does not exist. The crucial test of the strength of a democracy is simply this: Will 49 persons willingly do what they do not like when they have been outvoted by 51? The test of self-control in the individual is similar: Is he unfailingly obedient when he recognizes the majority voice within him? It may be said here that there is nothing more quickly and thoroughly destructive of character than the habit of doing things, seemingly unimportant, when we are conscious they are wrong. This is disobedience and it knows no degrees. Character is fortified by the opposite course which is obedience, and it never misleads. Therein is the imperative necessity of training children.
The attitude of the public toward the profession of arms reminds one forcibly of the attitude imputed to His Satanic Majesty regarding the order of monkhood. It is wholly a matter of his condition of health. When he is sick or in trouble, he embraces it; but when well, he abjures the whole business. In the piping times of prosperity military life is more or less discredited and false views and impressions are entertained regarding it. Among these errors none perhaps is more prevalent than the belief that obedience, discipline, duty, and other manifestations of the profession are maintained by the arbitrary power of supervision, backed by the right to enforce compliance through fear of punishment. The notion is too absurd to merit notice were it not for its persistence. The day is long past, if in fact it ever existed, when any body of men would submit to such conditions. A very little experience in the training of men develops the fundamental principle that the end sought is attained through encouragem.ent, through appreciation of right endeavor, through rewarding the meritorious, and by organizing the best means to secure the greatest physical comfort and justice for all. There is no other possible way to secure obedience and loyalty in military life, or elsewhere. With few exceptions, men respond willingly to such treatment, as they quickly realize the advantages of system, order and quick response to duty. If there is any better way to arrange the details of life and service, they know that the officers are as desirous of having it as they themselves, and are ready to adopt any reasonable suggestion. The habit of practicing these virtues brings its immediate reward in the common good enjoyed by all.
The youth of our country can be trained to these habits by precisely the same methods. In no way can a high standard of citizenship be more quickly reached than by such definite moral training in our public schools. In our large cities it is an urgent necessity, unless we have already hopelessly abandoned ourselves to an inevitable social deluge.
Children and youth from 12 years of age and upward should be subject to direct moral training for citizenship as the supreme consideration in our public schools. This period would cover what has come to be known as the Junior and Senior High schools. The essential step is to establish the Conduct Record as the chief feature of the pupil's career. The diploma should be a Citizenship Diploma, based on this record and reciting the fact that during the period of supervision and training the character of the pupil has been such as to justify the designated degree of merit, and because of this he is recommended to the state as worthy of trust and confidence and giving promise of loyalty in fulfilling the sacred obligations of citizenship. Deny this diploma, absolutely, to any one whose conduct, measured by the scale of merit, falls below the established standard. On every diploma inscribe the scholarship record of the pupil in the various branches, without comment. Any one who fails to receive the diploma should have a certificate of his scholarship record, if he desires it.
This would at once place the emphasis of school life where it belongs; worthy success would be within reach of all who will it; no change is required in the scholarship curriculum and scholarship would be improved by the better conditions and more serious tone of school life. There would be no special "problem" of discipline; all worthy incentives for scholarship excellence still remain, while the incentive for that which is indisputably better than scholarship is supplied. No pupil of good character and faithful effort is denied reward and discouraged for life by being pronounced a "failure" because of weakness in some branch of scholarship. When parents see that obedience, truthfulness, and good conduct in general are the chief things demanded by the state, and that the diploma depends upon these things, there will be the hearty and effective co-operation by the home, now lacking. When the graduates of such training become parents in their turn, children will have better home training.
Furthermore, this is the only true foundation of military training. It requires no gun and no uniform. If our youth later are to receive the more specialized features of military drill with weapons, as is now advocated, the transition will be easy and the results prompt.
It is an error to regard youth between 12 and 18 years of age as merely preparing for life. Preparation for the future is involved, of course; but in a very obvious and real sense they are actually in life, cannot evade it, and have responsibilities and duties like their elders. It is their duty to be obedient, to respect established authority and to cultivate physical and intellectual industry. They should be held to these duties by the knowledge that failure characterizes them as unworthy, unsatisfactory and undesirable. These are the very penalties they will face later, and the lesson should be learned by the training and experience of the school. Words only, whether of persuasion, chiding or rebuke, are little better than idle breath. Deeds bring the quickest and best results.
It is likewise an error to let children or adults absorb the belief that our public schools are a mere benefaction—a kind of free gift from the plenitude of our resources—for the pleasure or profit of individuals. Such is far from the truth. They are established for the sole purpose of welding our people into loyal, unified effort in behalf of the nation itself. If by their operation we fail to secure loyalty to our institutions, respect for authority and obedience to law, they are unprofitable whatever else may be claimed in their behalf.
If we are to stand firm in the crucial days of the future, then necessity is the all-sufficient justification for this urgent appeal to improve the human element. No need of to-day is greater than that of loyalty and obedience in our citizenship, and this need may be greater still in the near to-morrow. Through neglect to steady our people by the corrective influence of wise training in these virtues, even the supreme benefits of popular government have been reduced to elements of weakness and dissolution. Liberty is interpreted to mean license, and Freedom has become the privilege to flout law and authority. Minorities are impatient and non-compliant, and the spirit of sacrificial obligation has disappeared.
We need loyal officers for our fleets and ships, we need loyal crews to operate our guns and machinery. Promotion from the ranks will be more common in the future, and in emergencies officers will be made, as we witness to-day, by direct selection from the civilian body. These needs can be met only by a citizenship trained to loyalty and obedience in youth, and one that recognizes the obligation of duty to its government as prior to its demand for rights.
Contentment Based on Justice
Of vital importance to any nation is the cementing of its units into the compactness of a brotherhood that recognizes by its laws and individual conduct the value of common interests above selfish ones. The attainment of this condition will be the realization of loyalty and patriotism, and the pathway is the moral training of the young. To this end we should bend every effort, however ideal may seem the goal. People seek their natural measure of happiness, and they must at least be content. As a body, the people of our country cannot complain because of lack of material things. The supply of food and clothing is ample. But contentment is of the mind no less than of the body. Discontent among the peoples of the world to-day is mental rather than material and results from a mixture of selfish desires, envy and a sense of injustice, oft times the result of a vicious propaganda. To the extent that real injustice is involved, it must be removed, for it cannot be cried down the wind. It is not sufficient in any country that justice should be confined to horizontal planes in the various strata of society. It must find expression vertically as well as horizontally and take fair measure of all the services that are interchanged between high and low. Discontent of a people often causes its government to seek relief from internal pressure by expansion against its competitors. The flame started by the Serbian match would probably have been already extinguished if the great nations of Europe had not been heated to the point of easy inflammability by a discontented and aggressive proletariat.
A nation, if it chooses, may permit its people for awhile to live the individualistic grab-bag life, each getting according to his physical and intellectual powers, not only what he can from natural supplies and resources, but from his neighbor as well, and converting the proceeds into a saturnalia of pleasure. But it cannot do these things as the expression of its normal life and then, suddenly, in the advent of war, live the fraternal, cohesive life of justice and common sacrifice that are the purchase price of victory. It cannot even continue to so live in the absence of all external enemies, for involved in such living are the very seeds of discontent and revolution.
Let us endeavor to compress thought of our subject into more compact area. We seek happiness and peace that come through ultimate victory in a continuous warfare against the destructive forces that encompass our lives. We recognize as the most violent and spectacular of our combats, armed international conflicts. We seek to avert these exactly as we seek to avert and avoid convulsions of nature, epidemics, and all other destructive agencies; but the wisest human devices can as yet give us no sure exemption from their devastation.
Man himself is the supreme factor in this warfare, and in his collective capacity as a nation he must maintain his household in order. Provision for supplies and resources must be so elastic as to embrace extreme needs; necessary communications must be controlled and his armies of workmen, professional men, scientists and teachers must be organized for the highest efficiency in the normal phases of the struggle. If not so organized and ready, no hurried improvisation will be adequate for the greater stress. National weapons must be of the keenest edge and superior power and skill must be developed to wield them.
In the ultimate, national power reduces almost wholly to human power, for by it other powers are controlled. Human power manifests itself as a composite of body and mind, and its development is responsive to good training. Health and character are the important aims in training. Childhood and youth cover the most productive period, but good results are not confined to these ages. Our nation is slack and inefficient in both these departments of training and responsibility for results should be placed upon the public schools. In the important issues of life, character is decisive, while scholarship and culture have but minor parts. Our public schools, first of all, should be character factories rather than intellectual workshops.
Loyalty is incompatible with discontent. Men will not be denied justice. If discontent is ill-founded, justice disarms it; if it is well-founded, only justice will remove it.
We aim then at fundamental preparedness of material and manhood that fits the nation for its every-day tasks, whatever the day may bring forth, and fits us to be worthy co-laborers with other nations in the broad field of the world's work, doing our part and commanding their respect. On this strong platform we would mobilize our resources and concentrate our power for the sublime battle of national life: a battle that is unavoidable, incessant and, like the battle of life for the individual, must be waged against material and spiritual forces. There is no evil or vice that corrupts the heart of man that is not magnified in the heart of the nation. It is here that true preparedness begins, as has been so clearly stated by Admiral Knight in language that repetition cannot stale: "The preparedness of a nation begins deep down in the individual soul of the individual citizen…it is essentially a consecration of self to a cause."
Prepared thus from the ground up for the entire field of conflict, we do not hesitate to accept war when righteousness must be bought for a price.
Such preparedness can be established only by consecrated men of clear vision and profound wisdom. While it is essentially the task of statesmen, the entire citizenship must contribute support and make unselfish sacrifice in its behalf. All are deeply interested, and none more so than those of the two services that constitute the arms of defence. It is they who are always on the scouting line and who respond to the first alarm. It is they who are in the van and first-line trenches when the storm breaks. It is they who make ultimate sacrifice at the call of duty, and whose highest ambition is the spiritual one of being themselves worthy of their noble traditions. They are entitled to the leadership and comradeship of men of the highest grade of physical and moral manhood, and they are entitled, above all, to a justified faith in the endurance and support of the government that sends them forth. Let us heed the tragic lessons of weak and faithless governments that have abandoned their armies to slaughter and starvation in the field, or have consumed them in serving the ambitions of rival leaders in revolutionary strife.