THE WAY TO LIVE AS NEIGHBORS
By HAROLD E. STASSEN, Governor of Minnesota
Delivered at the Community Brotherhood Mass Meeting, February 27, 1941
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 351-352.
MR. CHAIRMAN, Ladies and Gentlemen: The brotherhood of men is at a low ebb in the world today. The friendly handclasp of a brother has been replaced by the cold clash of steel and the searing flash of exploding bombs. Our hearts are heavy as we contemplate these tragic events destroying so much that has been accomplished in the progress of mankind.
But we can take heart in the fact that here in America the spirit of brotherhood is warm and real. Here the sons of every nation in the world can live and work and play as brothers. Together they have made a contribution to the building of this house of democracy.
These very events in other parts of the world, however, make it increasingly important that we here not only recognize, but cherish and build the spirit of brotherhood. I therefore commend personally and officially as Governor, the activities of the Minneapolis Round Table and of the Brotherhood Week Committees in carrying on this program. I am pleased to join with that splendid humanitarian, Father Edward J. Flanagan, and the able leader, Albert G. Minda, in this program.
I think it is fitting that this month has been chosen to celebrate brotherhood week since two of our outstanding exemplary brotherhood characters were born in February—George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Their faith in democracy, in their fellow men, and in God have made them immortal in our history and in the history of the world.
Washington at Valley Forge suffered with his starving and ragged men because he had a fundamental faith in them as individuals. In those trying days of the Revolution he tellsus his reliance in making his great decisions was always on Divine Providence.
Lincoln, fifty years later, followed the example of Washington. We know his record well. His brief but vital message at Gettysburg will ring through all the ages as a testimonial of his faith in his country, his fellow men and his God. On one occasion he said, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go."
Both of these men led our nation through times of crisis that, in these days, imperiled our democracy as much as the totalitarian threat does today. They united our people. They succeeded because they had such a firm faith themselves that the people could not help but feel it. They believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
Tolerance, understanding, and charity toward each others views are the very foundation of the spirit of brotherhood. We cannot have bitterness and intolerance of one minority or another minority without having the flames spread to consume the very precious foundation of liberty and justice upon which this nation has been built. Intolerance breeds intolerance. Bitterness breeds bitterness and hate breeds hate. That great American, Charles E. Hughes, recognized this when he took the leadership together with Newton D. Baker and Doctor S. Parkes Cadman thirteen years ago in the formation of this National Conference of Christians and Jews. It has played a real part in maintaining tolerance and freedom of thought in this country.
Our maintenance of the foundations upon which our nation was built depends upon the tolerance and understanding and considerate nature of each and every citizen toward his fellowman whether he be in a position of public prominence or at a workbench in a factory or on a farm. The practice of a brotherly kindness toward our fellowmen is the best way to promote that brotherhood that will make one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
As we consider this subject let us also recognize the changes that have taken place in the world that affect our relationship to our fellowman in all parts of the world. Great changes in modern means of communication and travel have also raised new problems with the relationship between the men of various nations and races that must be solved if mankind is to progress. It took George Washington two weeks to ride from Mount Vernon to New York for his inauguration, and now in a like period of time Wendell Willkie flies to London, visits Ireland and Scotland and returns on a route
that takes him through Portugal, part of the mainland of Europe, a port on the African seacoast, a port in South America and then home.
The greatest battle of the War of 1812 was fought after the "Peace Treaty" had been signed because they could not communicate in time with the armed forces. But, tonight as we speak our voices are carried over a wide territory and are heard almost instantaneously in the homes and bn the highways of the land. In fact almost every evening we could sit at our radios and hear the reports from the news observers in Rome, Berlin, London and Belgrade and around the other side of the world from Australia.
It is a tragedy that while these developments of the ingenuity of man have made the world our neighbors, we have not developed the way to live as neighbors.
Where then shall we turn for the set of principles that will enable us to live in brotherhood?—What is the basis for brotherhood?
As I see it it is bound up in three fundamental faiths. First is the faith in our form of government—our democracy; the second is faith in our fellowmen; and the third is faith in God. Upon these three faiths we are united as a people, we are "one nation—indivisible with liberty and justice for all." Without them we are distraught, vulnerable to attack from without and within—we are a "house divided", doomed to fall.
I can think of no finer conclusion to these few brief remarks than that poem of Edwin Markham entitled.
The crest and crowning of all good
Life's final star, is Brotherhood;
For it will bring again to earth
Her long-lost poesy and mirth;
Will send new light on every face.
A kingly power upon the race.
And till it comes, we men are slaves
And travel downward to the dust of graves.
Come, clear the way, then clear the way;
Blind kings and creeds have had their day.
Break the dead branches from the path;
Our hope is in the aftermath—Our hope is in heroic men,
Star-led to build the world again,
To this event the ages ran;
Make way for brotherhood—make way for man!