Page:Patriotismchrist00tols.djvu/59

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PATRIOTISM AND CHRISTIANITY.

believe that truth is not what men talk of, but what is told by his own conscience, that is, by God—and at once the whole artificially maintained public opinion will disappear, and a new one be established in its place.

If people would only speak what they think, and not what they do not think, all the superstitions emanating from patriotism would at once drop away with the cruel feelings and violence founded upon it. The hatred and animosity between nations and peoples, fanned by their Governments, would cease, the extolling of military heroism, that is of murder, would be at an end, and, what is of most importance, respect for authorities, abandonment to them of the fruits of one's labour, and subordination to them would cease, since there is no other reason for them but patriotism.

And if merely this were to take place, that vast mass of feeble people who are controlled by externals would sway at once to the side of the new public opinion, which should reign henceforth in place of the old.

Let the Government keep the schools, Church, Press, its milliards of money and millions of armed men transformed into machines: all this apparently terrible organisation of brute force is as nothing compared to the conciousness of truth, which surges in the soul of one man who knows the power of truth, which is communicated from him to a second and a third, as one candle lights an innumerable quantity of others.

The light needs only to be kindled and, like wax in the face of fire, this organisation, which seems so powerful, will melt, and be consumed.

Only let men understand the vast power which is given them in the word which expresses truth; only let them refuse to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage; only let people use their power, and their rulers will not dare, as now, to threaten at their discretion to cast men into a trough of universal slaughter, nor dare before the eyes of a peaceful populace to hold reviews and manœuvres of disciplined murderers; nor would the Governments dare for their own profit and the advantage of their assistants to arrange and derange custom-house agreements, nor to collect from the people those millions of roubles which they distribute among their assistants, and by the help of which their murders are planned.

And such a transformation is not only possible, but it is as im-