Page:The future of democracy.djvu/13

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THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY

is the only certain national instrument, and we are not at present going to stand in the way of our utmost effort being put in force by those who wield the instrument without which we cannot defend ourselves. The Government and the Generals we must support in the field. Whether the Government has always been right is a question on which hereafter some of you may hold very varying opinions. For my own part, I intend to back the Government in every way that is permissible through this crisis. I only say that because I want to make it plain that I am not speaking as a politician to-night. I am speaking to you as one who is in the middle of a great national crisis that affects the very right to exist of a democracy.

That brings me to the question of how my subject is in its own character affected by that crisis. The cloud, the heavy black cloud that is on us to-day, has got a silver lining. This war has been like a fire that has burned up chaff and stubble. It has swept away many prejudices, toned down many passions. It has got rid of much slackness and indifference, and it has opened the eyes of men and women to great duties, not only to themselves, but to their fellow men and women. It has given us a sense of new values—of higher values than we took account of before. It has raised our ideals. It has changed the spirit in which we live and work; this war is destined to have a tremendous effect on the public life of this country when it is over. I am not talking simply of the Franchise Bill. We could not have passed that Bill but for the new spirit of which I speak—a new spirit which has given women what I have believed in as their just possession all my life—the same rights as men. And the new spirit has brought about tremendous changes in our outlook. We are deeply and, I think, profoundly convinced that the faith that can move mountains can of a certainty, if it is exercised, overthrow this monstrous conspiracy of

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