The Real Purpose of Victory
ARE PROPERTY VALUES DEARER THAN HUMAN LIFE?
By COLBY DORR DAM, Psychologist, Editor, Economist
Delivered before the Center for Religious Education, Washington, D. C., October 15, 1944
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 48-51.
THE national selfishness which caused the war expresses itself in various ways according to the types and classes of people involved. Among politicians it is love of power through intrigue, deceit and secret engagements. Among industrialists and financiers it is love of wealth and the power it confers. Among the landed aristocracy it is love of social and political prestige and the influence which attends them. Among labor, agriculture and the middle class it is love of a high standard of living and the amenities which go with it. Among intellectuals, writers andscientists it is devotion to the philosophy of materialism and a belief that expanding national wealth is the main objective of national existence.
All these human attitudes and many more like them, have been greatly stimulated in the past two centuries by a rapid growth in the applied natural sciences which have built the industrial age, raised the standard of living and increased the power of wealth among ruling groups and classes.
The machine age has strengthened the power of the philosophy of materialism over human consciousness at every level, to a point where it virtually dominates the economic, social, moral and spiritual life of western civilization. The Axis Powers have simply carried this philosophy to its logical and ultimate conclusion. In so doing they have demonstrated with murder, starvation, brutality and terror, where this philosophy leads. They have shown up the machine age for what it essentially is and in so doing have rendered a tragic but useful service to the human race which will bear fruit in the centuries to come.
The United Nations, although deeply infected with materialism, have focused the true human aspects of the race in a showdown fight with educated barbarism. They have fought and died essentially for human values and for an opportunity to build the human age which is appearing on the horizon. The fact that even their leaders have only a vague notion as yet, of what they are fighting for and the fact that the war is essentially a fight to escape Nazi domination and keep freedom alive, does not depreciate in any way the greatness of the victory.
This is the most significant victory of the world of values over the world of things since the crucifixion of Christ. Its importance for the future does not lie in the huge destruction of human life and property; it lies in the basic changes wrought by total sacrifice in the consciousness of western civilization; it lies in the fact that the United Nations, despite their love of wealth and property, were able and willing to fight and die for the principles that eventually make men free.
This is a hard saying but a truth—the war and the victory are, in terms of the future, and in terms of human consciousness, the most fortunate events that have happened to humanity since the rise of Christianity. These events signify the end of the machine age and the beginning of the human age. What is the human age? It is a period wherein man's relations with himself and his fellow beings will gradually transform and dominate his relation with things. It is an age when the human sciences will achieve complete ascendency over the natural sciences. Just as the work of the machine age has been the conquest of nature, so will the work of the human age be the conquest of human nature. The physical energies, intensively developed under the philosophy of materialism, cannot be allowed to dominate human consciousness in the post war civilization. The powerful grip these energies have obtained over the mind and imagination of the western world, had to be smashed; and it required the two machine wars of this century to do the job. Thinking people everywhere, who are familiar with the spiritual order of the universe, know this war is a just retribution; that nothing but world wide destruction of life and property could effectively break the grip of materialism; that this destruction was necessary to inform humanity that the world of human consciousness is intended to be the master, and not the slave, of the world of things.
In the human age, of which the victory will mark the beginning, the first job will be to stabilize an international order which will prevent future wars, and fix permanently in the consciousness of the various groups and types, the concept of world unity to replace the old concepts of national unity. This job must be accomplished in the peace and the reconstruction period; it will require leaders of world wide vision and experience to do it.
The second job, equally important, is a wide and rapid development of the human sciences, comparable in power and range to the growth of the physical sciences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This means a shift in the whole focus of attention of the thinking minority in western civilization. It means fundamental changes in education, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics, sociology. It means exhaustive research in the values which motivate personality. It means a clear and accurate distinction between the animal and the human aspects of consciousness. It means a discipline for all educated people based on control of their thoughts, emotions and motives—a discipline designed for deliberate cultivation of the positive qualities which reflect the human spirit. The human age cannot establish itself until man learns to pay as much attention to his human values and what he does with them, as he pays to his physical body, its senses, instincts and appetites. This involves a revolution in educational methods. We shall need educators who know as much about the structure of the soul and the laws of consciousness as the chemists and physicists know about the structure of the atom and the laws of chemical affinity. Disciplines must be devised for deliberate, intensive cultivation of the positive qualities which reflect the human spirit and unlock the limitless storehouses of wisdom. We have an abundance of these beautiful qualities among thousands of sensitive, intelligent, unselfish and aspiring people; but the philosophy of materialism, which saturates the air we breathe, has stifled, starved and paralyzed them, until such people are either inarticulate or afraid to reveal their real natures to anyone.
Let us assume that the human age is introduced in the United States as follows} after peace is established:—new types of colleges are gradually opened in various sections of the country to educate adults into inspired thinkers, wise men and lovers of humanity. To these institutions would be admitted only persons well equipped with positive human qualities such as creative faculty, practical idealism, sincerity, courage, honesty, unselfishness, love of humanity and nature, discrimination, imagination, analytical intelligence and so on. It would be the function of these colleges to harness, integrate and focus the best moral, intellectual and spiritual assets of the nation just as the industrial and financial executives integrate capital, labor, raw materials, machinery and distribution into a functioning national economy. These colleges would produce the methods and disciplines necessary to build the human sciences to a point where a man can understand his world of inner values as thoroughly as he understands his world of things. This is no idle dream! It is the foundation of the coming civilization. It is a completely practical and vitally necessary undertaking. We live immersed during all waking hours in subjective worlds of our own. These inner worlds are controlled by laws as exact and inexorable in cause and effect, as the laws of chemistry and physics. These inner laws are the proper, healthy and normal concern of a society as advanced in intelligence as our own. Yet they are known and followed in the fifth decade of the twentieth century, by only a handful of pioneers whose destiny it is to find out not where we are or have been, but where we are going. As a result, this age has a bad case of arrested development. Our civilization, devoid of meaning, purpose, direction or relation to the future, is forced to blow itself to bits merely to escape barbarism and slavery. Well my friends, this objective is not enough for the human age. We cannot escape the legions of barbarism as long as the philosophy of materialism dominates the consciousness of Europe and America. These legions will appear again and again, in one nation or another, until we rescueour world of our values from its slavery to wealth, land and property.
What are the immediate steps which each of us can take to this end? We can study our own consciousness and find out what it contains. We can find out what our animal instincts are and where they conflict with positive human qualities. We can define our motives honestly and accurately. We can determine where we are selfish and where we are unselfish and why. We can find out where our consciousness habitually centers. Is it in the body, the emotions, the intellect or in creative aspiration? We can define the central purpose of our souls on earth and investigate the relation of this purpose to what goes on in our heads and hearts. Most of us spend most of our time on matters we know are entirely meaningless. We are then surprised to discover ourselves becoming nonentities. Remember that after death we shall be held responsible to the last thought, word and motive, for what we have done with our consciousness. Remember that it is consciousness and not things, which determines our whole place, experience and progress on the other side of life. Let us learn to work creatively with the human souls around us. Let us turn their attention to their positive qualities and help them to expand these qualities into active faculty and expression. Let us help people everywhere to realize that what they are in consciousness and not what they have in the bank, is the real and permanent measure of their lives.
The first task of the new colleges of wisdom will be to visualize with precision the consciousness of the major types in the machine society. We shall be able to blueprint the consciousness of the scientist, artist, educators, minister, financier, statesman, psychologist and laborer as accurately as we blueprint a bridge or a house. We shall be able to educate the whole man as he actually is, within himself. We shall understand and adjust the correlations which exist in his organism between instinct, senses, emotion, intellect, idealism and spirit. We shall explain the constant fluctuations in his states, between love of things and love of ideas. We shall chart the relations between body, mind and spirit so that all intelligent people can understand what they are and how they function. The current ignorance on these matters, even among our intellectuals, is profound; and the seething discontent in the academic world is due to the fact that more and more of the rising generation are discovering that their teachers don't know what they are talking about. They are trying to manufacture a reason for existence out of the philosophy of materialism which simply cannot be done.
Thus one of the first jobs of the human age will be to develop a wholly new basis for educating creative, intuitive and integrated adult personalities who are qualified for leadership in the world of values which underlies human institutions. The purpose will be to build specially qualified people into universal thinkers and wise teachers who know not only where we are and have been, but understand with technical accuracy, where we are going in consciousness. The present academic process not only is devoid of spiritual vision; it lacks even the knowledge necessary to build a true psychology and to nourish the seed-qualities of the spirit in human personality. Religion is equally useless for educating the new leadership, because theology has no practical understanding of the mutual relations the life energies which constitute the human organism. Thus religion has become the intellectual orphan of the machine age.
The new basis of education which is already rapidly developing in special schools and groups, deals directly with the whole fabric of consciousness from the angle of spiritual vision or wisdom. Its method is creative faculty and the power to visualize. The new process proceeds from the positive qualities and values of the soul to the facts of the senses, instead of the reverse. The approach to the human organism is built from the top down instead of the bottom up. It is the antithesis of the philosophy of materialism. It is built on scientific cultivation, through application to experience, of the best qualities of heart and faculties of mind possessed by the student. The machine age is familiar with the results of creative faculty applied to the laws of nature; but it is as yet, entirely unfamiliar with creative faculty applied with technical precision, to those dynamic spiritual energies which sustain the human organism and underlies con-ciousness itself. We have seen the remarkable changes wrought in physical life in two centuries, by a few original and creative scientists, who have pioneered in the field of nature. These changes are mere child's play compared with what will be achieved by research and application in the energies of human consciousness. There is no laboratory devised by man comparable to his own soul. Consciousness—the power in man to conceive, to imagine, to create and to know, is the primary power in the universe—the power in terms of which all other energies must eventually be measured. Can you imagine what will be achieved by education when the faculties, qualities and values which relate man to his own soul and his immortal future are understood as clearly as we now understand atomic structure? This is the real objective of the human age; but it could not happen while the philosophy of materialism dominated the consciousness of the nations and their leaders. Thus the achievement of permanent peace through international law, on which statesmen are now working, is the first prerequisite of the human age: and the purpose of the peace is to clear the tracks for establishment in national governments, of men who are as much concerned with the unfolding consciousness of the race as they are with its land, property and wealth. The present leaders are not equipped for the human age; they are middle men; destined only to save freedom in the interlude between two great eras in human history. Others will follow who are qualified to do for the heart, the intellect and the spirit of man, what these men have done for his political freedom and his physical equipment. Leadership will gradually pass, in the human age, from men who know how to accumulate wealth of property, to men who know how to accumulate wealth of consciousness. The victory, in terms of consciousness, is a victory of human values over property values. This conquest of the laws of human nature over the laws of nature, is a spiritual landmark in the evolution of the race. This landmark opens an age wherein nations will become as civilized and decent in their mutual relations as are most of the individuals which compose them. When this happens, the leaders in every nation who stand for human values instead of things, will gain recognition from a war-weary world. They will be able to win control of public affairs from the animal men who have manipulated the balance of power and set the world aflame because they understand themselves and evaluate their peoples, not in terms of consciousness, but only in terms of property.
If these eventualities seem strange or impossible, let us remember how impossible the scientific age appeared for the thinkers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Remember what has been accomplished in the interim by a few hundred daring and creative scientific thinkers. Do you think the potentialities in man are less than those in nature? Do you think the energy of the human mind and heart is less than atomic energy? I say it is inconceivably greater; that we know virtually nothing about it; that it is the foundation of all that is significant in the forward march of human history; that the machine age has reached the end of its rope and must either give way to the human age or destroy the human race.
The war and the victory have opened the way for the conquest of consciousness by demonstrating with thundering power that the values and principles on which the mind and soul live, are more important in the final showdown, than the things by which the body lives. It is but a step from this great realization to definite knowledge that the cultivation of consciousness, rather than the accumulation of land and wealth, is the primary purpose of human existence. The whole tide and meaning of the future is contained not in nature, but in the human soul. The machine civilization has so completely lost contact with its soul that it takes a sea of blood and millions of lives to bring it back to reality. The machine society is dying on its feet because it refuses to deal with its consciousness. It refuses to accept the clear implications of its humanity; it refuses to accept the fact that there is no way to humanize the social, economic and political order except in terms of values which shape human thought and motivate action.
When the human age is established, the enormous energy and effort which now goes into the production of things, will be transferred to the improvement and expansion of consciousness. The economic process will be incidental and will occupy only a small fraction of the time and attention of educated people. There will be a large minority of thinking persons aware that the surest way to improve human institutions is not by passing laws, but by cultivating human faculty, building human quality and focusing human aspirations. One reason for our machine age hunger for property and wealth is the moral, intellectual and spiritual poverty in the soul of machine age man. Nothing scares him so much as the prospect of being forced to think about his reasons for existence. He therefore avoids thought whenever possible, lives in his body, instincts and senses, and works like a beaver to accumulate gadgets for his comfort and convenience. Finally, when the philosophy of materialism sends him to war, he goes gladly in the hope that death may somehow give him that sense of significance and meaning which life has denied him.
The purpose of the war and the victory is to impress upon the consciousness of the United Nations the fact that nationalism is an instrument of the philosophy of materialism —an instrument so destructive and explosive that it must be curbed by international consent. This will not happen until what Mr. Walter Lippmann calls the "vital interests" of the nations and the peoples are understood in terms of psychological interests as well as in terms of land, raw materials and property values. This is a war to save the soul and spirit of man from psychological, as well as economic and physical slavery. Our United Nations statesmen, faced with the philosophy of materialism in its naked Nazi form, are still trying at this late hour, to build a balance-of-power peace under which the United States would protect the British Empire and France from possible future Russian or German aggression. It will be another peace based on the force of the great powers and a division of strategic military and air bases. It will be the job of the human age to establish between all the great powers, not an armed peace, but a peace of mutual good will and understanding as exemplified by the Canadian-American boundary. Can peace between Imperial Britain and Communist Russia be kept on a basis of "vital interests" conceived only in terms of national boundaries or control of strategic areas? Will land continue to be more precious to the hearts of our statesmen than the blood of the next generation of youth? We shall see from the peace structure how much our leaders have learned from this war about where the "vital interests" of the nations really lie. When an individual wants a piece of land he doesn't shoot the owner in order to get it. Why do nations shoot one another for land? I will tell you—Because they allow themselves to be ruled by men and groups for whom property values are dearer than human life; because statesmen, dominated by the creed of materialism, think first of markets, boundaries and raw materials and last of the people they sacrifice to seize or hold them. When the human age is established these machine age leaders will be characterized as barbarians in the history books.
All persons who wish to work efficiently to bring the human age into being, should start with this fundamental premise:—the human age must first be conceived in the consciousness of progressive, unselfish and aspiring people before it can become a fact. The inward psychological change always precedes the outward change in human institutions. We must therefore study human consciousness as intensively as we have studied the scientific world of physical energies. We are on the verge of a period of great and revolutionary discoveries in methods and disciplines for building creative faculty, and releasing long suppressed intellectual and spiritual energies in the human soul. We shall discover that the laws of the Christ consciousness, instead of being a matter for an hour's worship on Sunday, are the foundation and source of all the interrelated life energies which comprise the human organism. We shall learn to evaluate people and conduct our lives in terms of consciousness. We shall discover that the apparent separateness and individuality of the physical body does not apply to consciousness; in the inner world we are all a part of one another and responsible for one another. The sense of individuality, so prevalent today, is an introduction to the sense of universality. The purpose of education in the human age will be to lead thinkers from the particular to the universal, from the objective to the subjective and thus establish them solidly in the world of values that lies behind and beyond human nature. This becomes relatively simple as soon as we understand the machine age environment in terms of the limitations in human faculty which are responsible for it. There are very few universal thinkers and lovers today; but their numbers will increase as the need of thinking people for their wisdom and truth, increases.
Le me illustrate in a fragmentary way, what the inner vision of the human age will mean for the development of human faculty. We shall be able to analyze and visualize the human soul so accurately from the standpoint of its physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual energies that education will become a scientific process based on recognized spiritual laws. This advanced technology of our life energies is already available in broad outline. It is a comprehensive science of consciousness and a synthesis of knowledge by which intelligent people can learn to direct the evolution of their personalities from within and develop their inspired faculties. The process may start with a simple statement of the student's idealism as he understands it, including his methods of expression, his relation with environment and the obstacles he faces. Gradually he begins to know himself as a unit of consciousness among other units and to study the impacts of environment on his thoughts and emotions. He proceeds by analysis and synthesis until he knows the whole world of human consciousness in its mutual interrelations. He is then ready to build universal ideas, to read the human soul and to formulate those concepts and attitudes necessary to promote the evolution of personality and release the human spirit.
The machine age has not given us civilization but only its physical requirements. The real thing is yet to come. It will be founded not on man's knowledge of nature but on his knowledge of himself.