Page:Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919).djvu/21

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9
SOCIAL MOMENTUM

succeed in soberly marrying our new Idealism to Reality?

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Idealists are the salt of the Earth; without them to move us, society would soon stagnate and civilisation fade. Idealism has, however, been associated with two very different phases of temper. The older idealisms, such as Buddhism, Stoicism, and Mediæval Christianity, were based on self-denial; the Franciscan Friars vowed themselves to Chastity, Poverty, and Service. But modern democratic idealism, the idealism of the American and French Revolutions, is based on self-realisation. Its aim is that every human being shall live a full and self-respecting life. According to the preamble of the American Declaration of Independence, all men are created equal and endowed with the rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These two tendencies of idealism have corresponded historically with two developments of reality. In older times the power of nature over man was still great. Hard reality put limits to his ambitions. In other words the world as a whole was poor, and resignation was the only general road to happiness. The few could, no doubt, obtain some scope in