PTHIS week we can consider three pointers or plans that seem to bear promise for a less disturbed and happier world.
The first is the news that NATO is planning to rise above mere military defence and going to study ways and means of answering the Communist challenge on a snore positive human plane. The next is that Catholics throughout the world are preparing the immediate celebration of the jubilee of the social encyclical Quadragesimo Anno. And the last is that today (Friday) begins the annual novena of prayer to the Holy Spirit for Christian Unity. Cart wc find any relation between these three events and draw any fruit from the consideration of the nature of the
LET us consider the NATO -1-4 proposal in the light of the Communist challenge. The greatest weakness of the free world in the face of the Communist revolution undoubtedly lies in something which is hest described as " negativism." And the strength of Communism lies in its " positivism."
Communism itself has been built up on a positive philosophy and a positive action. It has something to offer and something to give, and its ideology is one of definite promise— promise, in fact, to those sections of humanity who have had the rawest deal in the history of civilisation.
True, everything has been made easy for Communism. It has been built up on totalitarian force. It disregards the individual as such and thinks in terms of the mass. And it has no scruple about the means it uses to bribe and to deceive.
But none of this alters the attraction of its positive appeal and of the practical hope it can offer, if not for today, at least for the future.
The free world, on the other hand. has mainly to rely on negative and hypothetical offers. It offers freedoms and rights. It offers achievement and prosperity, if things go well. What is freedom worth for the man who feels he has no security and therefore no real self to be free? What is a right worth without the means to enforce it?
The western world has established a society which is infinitely superior, ethically and materially, to the Communist. With guarded, hypothetical promises, it has created and given far more than Communism has with its positive force and its doctrine of positive, inevitable hope.
But the trouble is that man is ineradicably a man, a spiritual being, not an animal, not a machine. He falls for a bad philosophy of promise and of hope more easily than he thanks you for what he has received in the way of material gain and creature comfort — especially when he notices that he has gained a good deal less than some others no more meritorious than he.
This is why Communism, however disappointing its actual achievement, still appeals both within the West and, still more, in the underdeveloped countries in the world.
Nor can we expect the position to change until we too can offer a positive philosophy of hope and achievement.
Now the simple truth, as all human history shows and as indeed we know by faith, is that true hope and true achievement for man, a spiritual being, cannot he based on a purely material foundation. It must he a spiritual hope and IA spiritual achievement. Paradoxically, the West has afforded a genuine material progress for man with which he is never satisfied, while Communism has given a kind of caricature of spiritual hope, a promise of undefined utopia, which has moved and deluded millions.
IN the light of these truths could any merely political or economic plan provide the answer to the Communist pro. mise? NATO may be a military necessity, hut what moral and spiritual ideal can it offer in the name of the divided nations which compose it and the spiritual divisions within each of those nations?
If we turn to the novena to the Holy Spirit we do get light on the only way towards fulfilling the aspirations of Western man and exposing the bogus aspirations preached by Communism, for Christian Unity would point the compass of human society towards the goal inherent in man's very nature, namely spiritual fulfilment under God's revealed promise and His law. Nor need we wait passively for a miracle to happen. Every growth in mutual understanding between Christians, including would-be Christians, every expression of love between them, every prayer can mould unity here and now until the goal is reached. Thus the way is preparing for the vital necessity of the free world : a conscious, definite, spiritual faith and leadership which would reveal Communism as the dark, cold shadow it really is.
But the spiritual order is not enough for men who are compounded of spirit and flesh. To the spiritual order pointing the eternal goal there corresponds a terrestrial one which shapes the way—the only way that brings positive content to man in his exile. And in the social encyclicals we have guides and principles which demonstrate how a tolerable social and industrial order must be fashioned in the light of man's spiritual nature if men are to live decently and in positive hope in this world and for the next.
We have referred to these events of this week, not because we can have any illusions about a Christian utopia dramatically replacing the barrenness of a NATO plan either to defeat Communism or bring positive hope here and now, but because it is the simple truth that until the free world recognises the primacy of the true spiritual order, it will have no real defence against the bogus, but in the circumstances attractive, spiritual hope preached by Communism.
We have recently had reason at least to hope that the Soviet is looking for a new way. Let us, however, be certain until the true spiritual way is given the priority it demands, we cannot hope for much more than the Propping tip of one false philosophy by another.