Page:Patriotismchrist00tols.djvu/52

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PATRIOTISM AND CHRISTIANITY.

by a Government, but is that which produces Governments and gives them power, or deprives them of it.

It may seem that public opinion is at present stationary, and the same to-day as it was ten years ago; that in relation to certain questions it merely fluctuates, but returns again—as when it replaces a monarchy with a republic, and then the republic with a monarchy; but it has only that appearance when we examine merely the external manifestation of public opinion which is produced artificially by the Government.

But we need only take public opinion in its relation to the life of mankind to see that, as with the day or the year, it is never stagnant, but always proceeds along the way by which all humanity advances, as, notwithstanding delays and hesitations, the spring advances by the same path as the sun.

So that, although, judging from external appearances, the position of European nations to-day is almost as it was fifty years ago, the relationship of the nations to these appearances is quite different from what it was then.

Though the same rulers, troops, taxes, luxury and poverty, Catholicism, orthodoxy, Lutheranism, exist now as then; in former times these existed because demanded by public opinion, whereas now they exist only because the Governments artificially maintain what was once a vital public opinion.

If we as seldom remark this movement of public opinion as we notice the movement of water in a river when descending ourselves with the current, this is because the imperceptible changes in public opinion influence ourselves as well.

Constant and persistent movement is in the nature of public opinion. If it appears to us to be stationary it is because there are always some who have utilised a certain phase of public opinion for their own profit, and who, in consequence, use every effort to give it an appearance of permanence, and to conceal the manifestations of real opinion, which is already alive, though not yet perfectly expressed, in the consciousness of men. And such people, who adhere to the outworn opinion and conceal the new one, are at the present time those who compose Governments and ruling classes, and who preach patriotism as an indispensable condition of human life.

The means which these people can control are immense; but as public opinion is constantly pouring in upon them their efforts