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and elastic. No doubt it is so; but only because its ambition is not to shackle the infinite in order to tame it for domestic uses, but to help our consciousness to emancipate itself from materialism. It is as indefinite as the morning and yet as luminous; it calls out thoughts, feelings, and actions into freedom and feeds them with light. In the poet's religion we find no doctrine or injunction, but the attitude of our entire being toward a truth which is ever to be revealed in its own endless creation, in gospel of beauty and love.
In dogmatic religion all questions are definitely answered, all doubts are finally laid to rest. But the poet's religion is fluid, like the atmosphere round the earth, where lights and shadows play hide and seek, and the wind, like a shepherd boy, plays upon its reeds among flocks of clouds. It never undertakes to lead anybody anywhere to any solid conclusion, yet reveals the endless spheres of light, because it has no walls round itself. It acknowledges the facts of evil; it openly admits "the weariness, the fever and the fret" in this world, "where men sit and hear each other groan." But despite all, there is the song of the nightingale, and "haply the Queen moon is on her throne."
But all this has not the definiteness of an answer; it only has the music that teases us out of thought and yet fills our being.
In Shelley we clearly see the growth of his religion through periods of vagueness and doubt, struggle and searching. But he did come to a positive utterance of his faith, though he died young. Its final expression is Its final expression is in his "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty." This hymn rang out of his heart when
he came to the end of his pilgrimage and stood face to face with the Divinity, glimpses of Whom had already filled his soul with restlessness. All his experiences of beauty had ever teased him with the question as to what was its truth.
This question, even though not answered, carries a significance. A creation of beauty suggests a fulfilment, which is the fulfilment of love. We have heard some poets scoff at it in bitterness of despair; but it is like a sick child beating its own mother: it is sickness of faith which hurts truth, but proves it by its very pain and anger. This faith is, that beauty is the self-offering of the One to the other one.
The prevalent rites and practices of piety, according to a poet, are like magic spells: they only prove men's desperate endeavor and not their success. He knows that the end which we seek has its own direct call to us, its own light that guides us to itself. And truth's call, according to the poet, is the call of beauty.
For man the best opportunity for such realization has been in his society. It is a collective creation of his, through which our social being tries to find itself in its truth and beauty. Had our society merely manifested its usefulness, it would be inarticulate, like a dark star. But unless it degenerates, it ever suggests in its concerted movements a living truth as its soul, which has personality. In this large
life of social communion man feels the mystery of unity as he does in music. From the sense of this unity men came to the sense of their God, and therefore every religion began with its tribal god.
The one question before all others that has to be answered by all civilizations is not what they have and in what quantity, but what they express and how. In a society, production and circulation of materials, amassment and expenditure of money, may go on in an interminable prolongation of a straight line if they forget to follow some spiritual design of life which curbs them and turns them into an organic wholeness. For growth is not that enlargement which is merely adding to the dimensions of incompleteness. Growth is the movement of wholeness toward a fuller wholeness. Living things start with this wholeness from the beginning of their career. A child has its own perfection as a child; it would be ugly if it appeared as an unfinished man. Life is a continual process of synthesis and not of additions. Our activities of production and enjoyment of wealth attain that spirit of wholeness when they are blended with a creative ideal. Otherwise they have the insane aspect of the eternally unfinished; they become like locomotive-engines that have railway lines, but no stations, which rush on toward a collision of fiery passions or to a sudden breakdown of the overstrained machinery.
Through creation man expresses his truth, through that expression he gains his truth in fullness. Our society is for the best expression of man, and this expression, according to its perfection, leads us to our realization of the divine in humanity. When this expression is obscure, then our faith in the infinite in man is weak, then our aspiration cannot go beyond the idea of success. Our faith in the infinite is creative, our desire for success is constructive; the one is our home and the other is our office.
With the overwhelming growth of necessity civilization becomes a gigantic office to which home is a mere appendix. The predominance of the pursuit of success gives our society the character of what we call shudra in India. In fighting a battle the Kshatriya, the noble knight, had his honor for his ideal, which was greater than victory itself; but the mercenary shudra had success for his object. The name shudra symbolizes a man who has no margin round him beyond his bare utility. The word denotes classification, which includes all naked machines that have lost their completeness of humanity, be their work manual or intellectual. They are like walking stomachs or brains, and we feel, in pity, urged to call on God and cry, "Cover them up, for mercy's sake, with some veil of beauty and life!"
This great world, where it is a creation, an expression of the infinite, where its morning sings of joy to the newly awakened life, and its evening stars sing to the traveler, weary and worn, of triumph of life in a new birth across death, has its call for us. This call has ever roused the creator in man and urged him to reveal truth, to reveal the infinite in him. It is ever claiming from us, in our own creation, coöperation with God, reminding us of our divine nature, which finds itself in freedom of spirit. Our society is to remind us through its various voices that the ultimate truth in man is not in his intellect or in his possessions; it is in his illumination of mind, in his extension of sympathy across all barriers of caste and color; in his recognizing this world not merely as a storehouse of power, but as a habitation of man's spirit, with its eternal music of beauty and inner light of divine presence.
and power in every primary governmental problem. For the writers of the Constitution to have anticipated such a development would have seemed chimerical, and would have ruined their reputations as statesmen; the allegiance of the citizen to the State, then the only political reality, could be trusted to forestall the encroachments of the federal executive. Accordingly, the Constitution gave this executive potentially enormous powers, subject only to the control of the electorate at four-year periods. Time and events have given to the federal machinery a violent swing toward centralization; the powers which in a day of paramount states' rights were merely potential have now become actual and active and it appears that in practice the Constitution has set up an irresponsible executive.
HE growth of centralization turn to Washington for final decision in our form of government, bringing with it a constant increase in the isolation and irresponsibility of our federal executive, is a matter of common knowledge and criticism. The American public recognizes the fact and understands the danger, but sees no clear way out of the difficulty. A condition has arisen which was not properly guarded against in the Constitution. This fact is not surprising, for the Constitution was written in a day when states' rights were paramount; to the citizen of that day, wherever he might live along the Atlantic seaboard, the State represented the whole force and ideal of government. The federation proposed in the Constitution had yet to be created both in spirit and in practice. The growth of the federal spirit, in opposition to the spirit of states' rights, as the American citizen gradually transferred his primary political interest from the state government to the Federal Government, has marked the development of the United States as a nation.
Our forefathers could not, however, within the sphere of practical statesmanship, have provided for a period when the doctrine of states' rights would sink to its present level; when the authority of the state governments, directly dependent on the interest of the people, would become wholly subordinate, and when the country would
The question thus assumes a profound and far-reaching importance, touching the essential principles of our form of government. Shall we continue the practice of periodical elections, or shall we make the life of the administration dependent upon the will of the majority in the national legislature, adopting the principle of a responsible ministry, and incurring a change of administration whenever the policies of the executive fail to meet with a majority support of the Congress?
This view of the problem, however
natural it may be from the point of view of the student of history, is nevertheless open to the charge of being both academic and impracticable. It is based on a purely theoretical conception of the function of government, and does not take into account the divergencies in practical development as between nations, and the strength of the political traditions engendered by these divergencies. In America the practice of electing a President every four years has become part of the political life of the land; to change from this to the system of a responsible ministry would require a fundamental departure, amounting almost to political upheaval, in the thought of the electorate.
By a strange chance of political development, it happens to be possible for the President of the United States of his own volition to make his office and administration really responsible. In no other country in the world, under no other form of government, could such a fundamental step in organic progress be taken so freely by the chief executive. He need do no violence to the Constitution; he need raise no question of amendment or organic change; he need antagonize no political force either of the opposition or of his own party. Most important of all, he need present to the mind of the electorate no hostile or incongruous idea. On the contrary, the On the contrary, the country could be depended on to support the plan with outright approval.
Briefly, it would only be necessary for the President to make an arrangement with the Congress, so that one afternoon a week, or a portion of an afternoon, would be set aside for inter
pellations of the executive by the legislative branch of government. On this afternoon both houses of Congress would gather in the House of Representatives, and the President and his cabinet would appear before them to receive and answer questions as to public policy.
Nothing more would be necessary to bring about a remarkable mitigation of the present evil; the press and publie opinion would attend to the rest. There seems to be no obstacle anywhere to the accomplishment of this simple, but vital, step, once the President of the United States were to exercise his volition in the matter. Congress certainly would not refuse the request; the cabinet would have little to say about it. Those who think the country would in any way disapprove have failed to sound the temper of present-day America. And once the precedent were established, no succeeding administration would dare ignore it. By unwritten consent the practice would become incorporated in our form of government.
One can imagine the scene as the President and his cabinet submitted to the interpellations of the national legislature. For practical reasons the questions would probably be written and presented in advance. If some means, however, could be found to permit free interpellations from the floor, to be answered without preparation, we would have taken a much longer step toward actual executive responsibility. There would be questions in every department, especially in the department of foreign policy. Some of them would be wise and some of them would be foolish; some of them would be pertinent and some of them would be futile. them would be futile. There would
be as much variety in the answers as in the questions. A good share of the answers would be patently evasive. No compulsion, of course, would rest on the executive to reveal diplomatic or military secrets; compatability with the public welfare would be the recognized criterion, and the cloak of executive majesty could often be drawn about a naked and shivering error.
In fact, the net result of the occasion might be the production of a scanty amount of actual information; this is the experience wherever ministerial responsibility of an oral nature is found. Yet something would have been accomplished, and that something would have been fundamental in its character. The executive branch of the Federal Government would have been called out of its sanctum. It would have been brought before the bar of public opinion, and that not after, but at the time of, the event. It would have been forced publicly to defend its policies against authoritative criticism, to justify its activities, to account for its expenditures. Let the questions be wise or foolish, let the answers be candid or evasive, the press-gallery would be crowded on that interesting afternoon. Pencils would be busy, and long reports of the proceedings would go out over the wires. These reports would have news value; the papers would print them, the country would read them, and the present almost sacred isolation of the federal executive would be shattered beyond repair.
No one who candidly observed the operations of government in Washington during the war can doubt the dangers of centralization and execu
tive irresponsibility that confront us. In the Federal Government authority has divorced itself from responsibility, the man whose office it is to execute can evade any unfavorable result of his action, and "passing the buck" has come to take the place of rendering a plain and adequate account. This, as every man of business knows, or as every citizen ought to know, is an open invitation to inefficiency and disaster. Unless authority and responsibility are placed under one and the same head in business, things rapidly fall in disorder, and the business goes to pieces. Unless they are vested in one and the same office in government, extravagance and error have free rein, and the country suffers for the fault of the institution.
It is not putting it too strongly to say that our executive branch of government during the war lived and moved in a little world of its own, apart from the vital thought of the country, immune from natural restraint, each department running its own publicity bureau and giving out eulogistic and even unfaithful reports of its own program, but flatly refusing to accept responsibility for any untoward development in its bailiwick. Only those whose business it was to study and report the activities of this closely knit piece of bureaucratic machinery can realize the extent of the executive isolation, or appreciate the depth of the disdain with which administrative officialdom looked on the least effort to question its policies and procedure. Neither through the press nor through the powers of Congress could final responsibility be lodged in any important issue. Such was the immunity in which executive authority spent the billions of the war.