The Moral Basis of Democracy: Sunday Morning Talks to Students and Graduates

By Arthur Twining Hadley | Go to book overview

SELF-CONSECRATION
1917

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

THE life of the community demands the sacrifice of the individual life. This is the doctrine of the gospel; this is the teaching of history. A selfish nation is to all intents and purposes a dead nation. Athens, Rome, Byzantium, Florence, have in turn illustrated this truth. Outward splendor might hide from the public eye the decay that lay at the heart of things, but it could not abolish that decay or prevent its rapid progress. No amount of wisdom or riches could avail for the protection of the city, if the children had lost the underlying habit, which characterized their fathers, of subordinating personal claims and interests to the needs of the commonwealth. Self-sacrifice is a political necessity, no less than a Christian precept.

Among the lower animals the subordination of the individual to the needs of the community is secured by instinct. The bee or the ant is compelled by its very structure to incur labor and hardship that the community of bees or ants may prosper. The same spirit of instinctive self-sacri-

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