Page:Saturdayeveningp1935unse.djvu/1027

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THE SATURDAY EVENING POST

THE SALVAGING OF CIVILIZATION
(Concluded from Page 15)

We want to make our world think more than it does about the consequences of the lives it leads and the political deeds that it does and that it permits to be done. We want to turn the human imagination round again towards the future which our lives create. We want a collection and digest of forecasts and warnings to complete this modern Bible of ours. Now here I think you will say—and I admit with perfect reason—that I am floating away from any reasonable possibility at all. How can we have forecasts and prophecies of things that are happening now? Well, I will make a clean breast of it, and admit that I am asking for something that may be impossible. Nevertheless, it is something that is very necessary if men are to remain indeed intelligent, cooperating communities. In the past you will find where there have been orderly and successful communities the men in them had an idea of a destiny, of some object, something that would amount to a criterion and judgment upon their collective conduct. Well, I believe that we have to get back to something of that sort.

We have statesmen and politicians who profess to guide our destinies. Whither are they guiding our destinies?

Surely they have some idea. The great American statesmen and the great European statesmen are making to-morrow. What is the to-morrow they are making?


Prophets and Forecasters

They must have some idea of it. Otherwise they must be impostors. I am loath to believe them impostors, mere adventurers who have blundered into positions of power and honor with no idea of what they are doing to the world. But if they have an idea of what they are doing to the world, they foresee and intend a future. That, I take it, is sound reasoning and the inference is plain.

They ought to write down their ideas of this future before us. It would be helpful to all of us. It might be a very helpful exercise for them. It is, I think, reasonable for Americans to ask the great political personages of America, the President, and so forth, for example, whether they think the United States will stand alone in twenty-five years' time as they stand alone now. Or whether they think that there will be a greater United States—of all America—or of all the world. They must know their own will about that. And it is equally reasonable to ask the great political personages of the British Empire: What will Ireland be in twenty-five years' time? What will India be? There must be a plan, an intended thing. Otherwise these men have no intentions; otherwise they must be, in two words, dangerous fools. The sooner we substitute a type of man with a sufficient foresight and capable of articulate speech in the matter, the better for our race.

And again, every statesman and every politician throughout the world says that the relations of industrial enterprise to the labor it employs are unsatisfactory. Yes. But how are those relations going to develop? How do they mean them to develop?

Are we just drifting into an unknown darkness in all these matters, with blind leaders of our blindness? Or cannot a lot of these things be figured out by able and intelligent people? I put it to you that they can. That it is a reasonable and proper thing to ask our statesmen and politicians: What is going to happen to the world? What sort of better social order are you making for? What sort of world order are you creating? Let them open their minds to us; let them put upon permanent record the significance of all their intrigues and maneuvers. Then as they go on we can check their capacity and good faith. We can establish a control at last that will rule presidents and kings.

Now the answer to these questions for statesmen is what I mean by a Book of Forecasts. Such a book, I believe, is urgently needed to help our civilization. It is a book we ought all to possess and read. I know you will say that such a Book of Forecasts will be at first a preposterously insufficient book—that every year will show it up and make it more absurd. I quite agree. The first Book of Forecasts will be a poor thing. Miserably poor. So poor that people will presently clamor to have it thoroughly revised.

The revised Book of Forecasts will not be quite so bad. It will have been tested against realities. It will form the basis of a vast amount of criticism and discussion.

When again it comes to be revised it will be much nearer possible realities.

I put it to you that the psychology, the mentality, of a community that has a Book of Forecasts in hand and under watchful revision will be altogether steadier and stronger and clearer than that of a community which lives as we do to-day, mere adventurers, without foresight, in a world of catastrophes and accidents and unexpected things. We shall be living again in a plan. Our lives will be shaped to certain defined ends. We shall fall into place in a great scheme of activities. We shall recover again some or all of the steadfastness and dignity of the old religious life.

Let me, with this Book of Forecasts, round off my fantasy. I would picture to you this modern Bible, perhaps two or three times as bulky as the old Bible, and consisting first of:

The Historical Books, with maps and the like;

The Books of Conduct and Wisdom;

The Anthologies of Poetry and Literature; and, finally, the Book of Forecasts.

I would picture this Bible to you as most carefully done and printed, and made accessible to all, the basis of education in every school, the common platform of all discussion, just as in the past the old Bible used to be. I would ask you to imagine it translated into every language, a common material of understanding throughout all the world.

And, furthermore, I imagine something else about this—I imagine all of it periodically revised. The Historical Books would need to be revised and brought up to date; there would be new lights on wisdom and conduct, there would be fresh additions to the anthologies, and there would be forecasts that would have to be struck out because they were realized or because they were shown to be hopeless or undesirable, and fresh forecasts would be added to replace them.

It would be a Bible moving forward and changing, and gaining with human experience and human destiny.

Well, that is my dream of a Bible of civilization. Have I in any way carried my vision out to you, of this little row of four or five volumes in every house, in every life throughout the world, holding the lives and ideas and imaginations of men together in a net of common familiar phrases and common established hopes?


What it Would Cost

And is this a mere fantastic talk, or is this a thing that could be done and that ought to be done?

I do not know how it will appear to you, but to me it seems that this book I have been talking about—the Bible of to-day's civilization—is not simply a conceivable possibility; it is a great and urgent need. Our education is, I think, pointless without it—a shell without a core. Our social life is aimless without it; we are a crowd without a common understanding. Only by means of some such unifying instrument, I believe, can we hope to lift human life out of its present dangerous drift towards confusion and disaster.

It is, I think, therefore, an urgently desirable undertaking.

It is also a very practicable one. The creation of such a Bible, its printing and its translation, and a propaganda that would carry it into the homes and schools of most of the world, could, I think, all be achieved by a few hundred resolute and capable people at a cost of thirty to forty million dollars.

That is a less sum than that the United States, in a time when they have no enemy to fear in all the world, are prepared to spend upon the building of what is for them an entirely superfluous and extravagant toy—a great navy.

You may, you probably will, differ very widely upon much that I have here put before you. Let me ask you not to let any of the details of my sketching set you against the fundamental idea—that old creative idea of the Bohemian educationist who was the pupil of Bacon and the friend of Milton, the idea of Komensky—the idea of creating and using a common book, a book of knowledge and wisdom, as the necessary foundation for any enduring human unanimity.


———
Editor's Note—This is the fourth of a series of articles by Mr. Wells. The fifth will appear in an early issue.
MEGMEMG MMLLEGMG The younger man laid his hand on Jim's

trm; his fingers tightened; he whispered,

" That was someone else ! Someone else was But Jim was not ho much struck by the L ignificance of this fact, at first, as by Bert's tacit admission that he had been in t he Castle at that tragic hour. He asked swiftly, "Were you there, Bert?" Bert hesitated, then exclaimed, "Yes! But I didn't come out the front door. That was someone else." Jim lifted his hand. " Wait a minute ! Let'l get this straight .. What did you go there for, Bert? You never told me." For a moment he thought B«t would re- fuse to tell him; then the younger man moved his head in a gesture of resignation. "Well," he said hurriedly — " well oh, I was a darned fool! I'd done it before. I had to see her sometimes. I thought maybe something would I knew she'd be in the barn, milking, about then. So when I came out of the woods I went up there and got in- side and hid to watch her. I had to see her sometimes, Jim! Can't you IN I had to?" (Continued from Page 19) "Margaret?" Jim asked huskily. "Yes — I had to. There's a corner in by the shed door. I'd get in there, and when she came out with the lantern I could see her — not six feet from me, Jim— and I could see through the door into the tie-up and watch her when she came out, and all. That's all, Jim." He was almost pleading, and Jim nodded in slow assurance. "Why, sure!" he said. "Why, sure you did ! " He considered the matter for a space, then asked quietly, " Hut how did you come out Of the barn, Bert?" "Through the shed door," Bert told him. "That's on the side toward the orchard, isn't it?" "Yes." "Funny Judd didn't see you." Bert said hopelessly, " Oh, I guess he did ! I guess he just says it was the front door to make it look worse. Where was he?" "Hanging around somewhere. I don't know." Bert laughed in a weary fashion. "Well, he'li enjoy telling all that in court, now won't he? " Jim did not at once answer. He was looking out of the window, considering, and his eyes were steady and serene. Bert shifted nervously in his chair, till Jim swung toward him again, gripping his hat upon his knee. "Bert," he said, " I'm going to hustle out there. Maybe I can -well, there's no tell- ing. I'm going to fetch Judd up to the Castle and gel him to show me where he was, and all. Maybe I can figure some- thing. Why, Bert, there must have been somebody else there! Maybe Judd did see him; maybe missed seeing you come out. The little snake may be teliing the truth. You can't tell. I'll " Me got to bis feet. There was a terrific iitlpat ienre in him. "Mind if I go right along?" he asked. "I want to look round there before dark, and it's three o'clock now. If there's anything to see any tracks or anything there's been a lot of rain ground soft." lie was thinking aloud, turned suddenly to- ward the iloor, called to the sheriff, " Much obliged. I'll see you to-morrow." Booked (Continued on Page 07) THE ONE FOR 1921 THIS year, even the date it- self suggests the union suit that you should buy. For " 1921 " begins w ith " i " and ends with " 1," and you can start with "one" and end with "one" also when looking for underwear satis- faction. Get the HATCH ONE BUTTON UNION SUIT with its one master button which takes the place of the useless row of nine or more on the ordinary union suit. By doing away with the useless row, the one button conveniently located at the chest also docs away with all wrinkles and binding. It gives instead just one smooth, even fit from neck to kmc or ankle. The Hatch One Button Union Suit is ;i garment you will ap- preciate this year, every year, and all through the year. Thin Sprinjt you can £vl the Match One Mut- ton Union Suit in the finest of knit goods and nainsook. We shall he glad (o send, free on re- quest, n catalog descrihing the complete line. The llalch Onellulton Union Suit is featured at ihe hest stores everywhere, hut if you can- not get it easily and quickly, send your si/e with remittance to our milt at Alluiny, N.Y., and you will he supplied direct, delivery free. Men'. garments: Knitted- $1.50, 2.01), 2.50 ami 100. Nainsook -$1.00. 1.50. 1.75, 2.00 ami 2.50. Hoys' garments : Knitted— $1.25. Nainsook — 75 cents. it'll) ft HATCH KNITTING < <> ALBANY NKW VO