WHAT is war -- a thing so unnatural? How does the war thought come, where does it go? How can a so-called civilized nation think of such a thing? People who will contribute to earthquake sufferers in all parts of the world, or if any section of the the earth has a famine, will send ship-loads of provisions! If a submarine boat sinks, drowning ten men, the whole nation is stirred and filled with sorrow, yet at the same time it is building death-dealing machines, designed to mow men down in bunches, like grass.
The more deadly the instrument, the louder the nation crows over it, and the more afraid is it, that some other nation will find out the secret and appropriate it.
Think of the inconsistency!
Now what makes war, and why will a so-called Christian nation consider it at all? In the normal state it would not, but when a nation entertains the war thought, it is not in a normal state. It must work itself up to the war thought, as the Indians do by their war dances before going into battle.
The nations do it by mesmerism, which is more powerful than the Indians' war dance. Without the mesmeric condition of mind, war would be impossible.
It is done in about the following manner: Some supposed insult is received from some supposed rival nation --intended or not does not alter the matter, as long as it looks like an insult or slight. Perhaps the commercial spirit of some other nation is making inroads on their foreign trade. The papers take this up, write columns on this perhaps slight incident, and blow it up like a hot air bag, until the people grow to think that it is a very serious affront. They have public meetings, and men with languagitis, who are longing for a chance to air their vocabularies, hand out a wonderful flow of words about the nation's glory, the greatness of its heroes, and the victories of the past. The people are smitten and the mesmerism starts. The rulers and governors join in with strong words about the "duty to the Fatherland," and the mesmerism increases. Bands and orchestras play with nothing but national airs, nothing else is acceptable. The papers keep on writing columns of editorials, the shops for the manufacture of war materials are working night and day -- something doing. The mesmerism is increasing fast.
All the theatres have plays in keeping with the desires of the people. Soldiers parade often and are received with great applause. Children drop their usual games and drill and fight mimic battles.
The nation is by this time drunk with mesmerism, and goes to war. They fight until exhausted or the bankers call the game. Peace is declared, but thousands of homes are empty, thousands are crippled for life, thousands have contracted disease to hand down to their posterity, to the third and fourth generation.
The mesmerism is broken, but what hell it has caused and what scars it has left!
The soldiers went to battle steeped in hate, they fought against men whom they would have lived with in peace, but for the intoxicating mesmerism.
Peace is declared, and now the different armies mix, the men exchange bread and clothes, they eat together. The officers of the opposing armies dine with each other and swear everlasting friendship, and wonder when they meet what they had been fighting about. It was the mesmerism.
Think of the awful discord produced by these mesmeric wars, w hen man is bent on stabbing, shooting or rending his brother; when men look upon each other as wild beasts. Were their instincts of love aroused, instead of hate, they would be giving bread and clothing to these same men whom they area now trying to kill.
I recall an incident of the South African war with its contrast of carnage and charity. The day had been hot, the march long and tiring, the soldiers, foot-sore and weary, were looking forward to a night of rest by the camp fires. The western sky was blood-red, prophetic of a coming storm. To keep up the courage of the men, the band had all day long played stirring martial music.
Upon approaching a kopje near a river bank where the army expected to camp, men are seen to fall in the front ranks. There is no noise by the gentle purring of bullets and the cries and curses of the falling.
In an instant the quick firing guns are brought into action, smoke and shot fill the air, mingling with the cries of the dying.
The cavalry now charge around the base of the kopje where the enemy are supposed to be. The ambulance corps is busy among the wounded.
The cavalry falls back with heavy loss, repulsed by the Boers, the army of England retreats, leaving numbers of dead and dying on the field.
One of them, a corporal (a clerk in a banking house in London), is mortally wounded. He lifts himself on his elbow and attempts to staunch the flow of blood that has reddened the ground. His young face is white and covered with the dew of death, yet even in his extremity his face shows his kindly nature. All his life had been filed with little charities. His wife had been his schoolmate and life-long companion, and their little home near London was nearly paid for; soon he would be assistant manager of one of the branch banks. His life had been filled with love, happiness and a fair amount of success.
He had lived a clean, manly life, but being carried away by the mesmerism of war, he was now in South Africa to kill, not wild beasts but men, some of God's children, whom he had always loved to help.
He called for water, too weak to use his own supply. One of the Boer cavalrymen, hot in pursuit of the retreating army, understanding English, dismounts to help him and relieve his suffering. His helpless condition touches the rough, rugged Boer, who stoops over him, gives him water and does all he can to ease his last moments. "Quick -- a message to my wife.: The Boer writes:
Dear Mary: I am dying. God bless and protect you and the children. JIM
He is hardly able to give the address. His enemy of one hour ago bathes the head of the dying man whom the God of War has claimed.
In the twilight of that African day, in the midst of that hell, brother had found brother.
But in England were dear Mary and the children, and in that home as in thousands of others were anguish and despair. One of God's noblemen had been sacrificed -- one of thousands upon thousands. Sacrificed not on the alter of Aztec God of War, but upon the alter of hate, reared with stones from the quarry of mesmerism, reared by a civilized nation, the greatest on earth, a nation of followers of the God of Peace.
And the Boer that night as he thought of Mary and the children, did he ask himself if the victory was worth the price?
And my thought turns to Bethlehem and the night of long ago and the heavens filled with glory, and with the shepherds I hear the "Peace on earth, good will to men," I see the coming day and the meaning of the message, when love fills all thought and mesmerism has no place.
Then earth shall know that peace is best,
And birds shall build in cannons' breast;
With anthems glad all earth shall ring,
For Love shall reign and Love be King.