Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/593

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573
THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.

being purposely made heavy that they may inflict greater damage. So, too, it may be well that boys should all in turn be subject to the tender mercies of elder boys, with whose thrashings and kickings the masters decline to interfere; even though they are sometimes carried to the extent of maiming for life. Possibly, too, it is needful that each boy should be disciplined in submission to any tyrant who may be set over him, by finding that appeal brings additional evils. That each should be made callous, morally as well as physically, by the bearing of frequent wrongs, and should be made yet more callous when, coming into power, he inflicts punishments as whim or spite prompts, may also be desirable. Nor, perhaps, can we wholly regret that confusion of moral ideas which results when breaches of conventional rules bring penalties as severe as are brought by acts morally wrong. For war does not consist with keen sensitiveness, physical or moral. Reluctance to inflict injury, and reluctance to risk injury, would equally render it impossible. Scruples of conscience respecting the rectitude of their cause would paralyze officers and soldiers. So that a certain brutalization has to be maintained during our passing phase of civilization. It may, indeed, be that "the Public School spirit," which, as truly said, is carried into our public life, is not the most desirable for a free country. It may be that early subjection to despotism, and early exercise of uncontrolled power, are not the best possible preparations for legislators. It may be that those, who, on the magistrate's bench, have to maintain right against might, could be better trained than by submission to violence and subsequent exercise of violence. And it may be that some other discipline than that of the stick would be desirable for men who officer the press and guide public opinion on questions of equity. But, doubtless, while national antagonisms continue strong and national defence a necessity, there is a fitness in this semi-military discipline, with pains and bruises to uphold it. And a duly-adapted code of honor has the like defence.

Here, however, if we are to free ourselves from transitory sentiments and ideas, so as to be capable of framing scientific conceptions, we must ask what warrant there is for this exaltation of the destructive activities and of the qualities implied by them? We must ask how it is possible for men rightly to pride themselves on attributes possessed in a higher degree by creatures so much lower? We must consider whether, in the absence of a religious justification, there is any ethical justification for the idea that the most noble traits are such as cannot be displayed without the infliction of pain and death. When we do this, we are obliged to admit that the religion of enmity in its unqualified form is as indefensible as the religion of amity in its unqualified form. Each proves itself to be one of those insane extremes out of which there comes a sane mean by union with its opposite. The two religions stand respectively for the claims of self and the claims of others. The one religion holds it glorious to resist