By STANLEY B. JAMES
AS the fourth winter of the war approaches, the world-situation is seen to be more complex and to involve profounder difficulties than ever. Controversy, instead of clarifying the position. has but multiplied the issues and sharpened the differences. It is possible to avoid this conclusion only by a fallacious simplification of the problems to be settled. Thus, one may consider only the military situation. But directly this is done. all sorts of other factors— political, economic, ethical and religious—intrude themselves. Or, one may view the scene from the standpoint of some single belligerent or group of belligerents. assuming that the interests of this or these countries alone deserve consideration. We are here concerned, however. with the situation as a whole. Anything less is but an artificial accom
modation to our limited vision. No settlement can he satisfactory which does not take into account the fact that the different parts of the world and the different aspects of our common civilisation are so interrelated as to be inseparable.
And the profundity of the problem raised. equals its complexity. It goes right down to the roots of human nature. As it is pondered, it dawns on one that speculation concerning the nature of the universe and man's place in it is not the idle and academic exercise it has been supposed to be, but, in a case like this, a practical necessity. Woe to mankind if, at the present juncture, matters are
settled on the basis of a false philosophy! A wrong step might mean centuries of misery. We need not envy those called to bear the burden of this awful responsibility.
THE UNIVERSAL KING MR. H. G. Wells has referred constantly to the need for a World-Mind. and no one will contest the existence of that need. But Mr. Wells evades the real crux of the problem,which is precisely how to develop such a mentality as that which he demands. It looks as though, to produce the genius adequate to the present situation, would itself require a World-Mind. You cannot get things of that sort by an advertisement in the Times. Money cannot buy it and science cannot
manufacture it. No less impracticable is the acceptance as universal lord of some self-elected Dictator. It is because we recognise that supreme egotism and ambition are no guarantees of the wisdom necessary for the discharge of so terrifying a responsibility that we are engaging in this conflict. There is, indeed, not the slightest prospect that the terroristic rule of a Hiller over all mankind, could it be effected, would bring peace and contentment. And what applies to the individual Dictator applies with equal force to the
Dictator-Nation. Shall we then adopt a democratic method, calling together, when the opportunity occurs, a World Congress to elect a sovereign lord to whom might be delegated universal authority? The suggestion is a naive one. It presupposes, first, the existence of one worthy of this honour, and, secondly, the ability of this vast electorate to recognise him. It is just the absence of the wisdom necessary for so difficult a choice that has created the present situation. Experience by no means confirms the superstition enshrined in the saying, "Vox populi, vox Dei." We cannot believe that the human race. having got itself into this mess, would unaided show the fine discrimination and impartial judgment required for the election, from its own ranks, of the Ma s terind.
The only other possibility is that of a WorldLord whose authority should be given and imposed from above. Unless such a one exists, has manifested himself and bestows on those willing to accept it the wisdom capable of identifying him,
the case is hopeless. The sooner we humbly acknowledge that the state of affairs to-day puts a strain on human nature to which it is not equal and explore the possibility mentioned, the better will it be.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD Vwas just this " possibility " which was regarded by the Hebrews as a reality. The one thing which impresses one in reading the literature in which their national consciousness was expressed is that it was not Israel which elected Jahweh as Over-Lord. but He Who chose Israel to be His servant. The case is unique in the annals of mankind. This national literature, so far from glorifying the people whose story it tells. is full of self-depreciation. With the utmost frankness it records their infidelities and the miserable state to which they were reduced when their God withdrew His help. Their origin as a people rescued from slavery and their subsequent captivity are set down without any attempt to
gloss over the national humiliation, Their sole hope was in the coming of a Leader who, in the name and power of their God, would usher in a reign of righteousness and peace which should be for all nations.
The experiences through which they passed were calculated, while discouraging dreama of imperial greatness or even of cultural pre-eminence, to Intensify loyalty to Jahweh. Thus restricted, the racial mentality became profound and subtle. None understood better than these Hebrews the secrets of human nature. Prophet, Psalmist and story-teller sounded the heights and depths of experience. Obedience to authority imparted to
the faithful nucleus the potency to rule. The schooling through which they passed, in fact, was just that which could best teach the art of wise government.
And then came the promised Messiah, in Whom we may see this rich heritage divinised and universalised, renouncing worldly empire but proclaiming all the more insistently His claim to rule the inner realm of the spirit. and, on the Cross, showing how utterly self-will was subordinated to love of God and Man.
Here, then, at last. had appeared in actual history the Ideal King, Lord of the spiritual realm which governs the destinies of men, wise beyond all human standards in the lore of the heart and the conscience. God Himself in the flesh.
A DELEGATED AUTHORITY
I S that relevant to our desperate contemporary need? Jesus, it will be objected. even if all that has been said of Him is true, has been dead nigh two thousand years. But the objection admits the very power and wisdom which it concedes. One so deeply versed in the weaknesses of human nature could not have attempted (as He did) to set up a universal Kingdom that should outlast time without making provision for the continuance of His authority.
It is the claim of the Catholic Church that I-le did make such provision and that His authority and the ability to administer it faithfully were given to the successors of that Apostle whose primacy the New Testament makes clear.
This is not the place in which to consider the justice of that claim, hut it might he remembered by those who refuse to allow it that the centuries during which it went unchallenged throughout Christendom gave time for the tradition to produce its natural effects.' Setting on one side the Catholic theory regarding the Papacy, there still remains the psychological fact that office exercises a mysterious influence on the personalities of those who hold it. Legal questions apart, there is a sense in which the crown does make the king and is calculated to endow him with kingly qualities. Was not that the whole point of Ibsen's play, The Pretender? Here in England we know something of a " governing class " which derives such ability to govern as it possesses largely from a social tradition and the training that goes with it.
In applying this to the papacis it might be taken into consideration that the very position of the Popes and the daily experience which brings them in contact with individuals from all parts of the world. give them an inside knowledge possessed by no other rulers. This of itself tends to foster an outlook which transcends racial and national differences, a truly universal mentality well adapted to proclaim the principles which should govern international agreements and to assist in the application of the same. It is therefore no mere sectarian suggestion that the genius of the Papacy should he invoked in the effecting of settlement to the war.
THE MAN AND THE HOUR WE hate purposely refrained from adopting what some might regard as the theological and ecclesiastical " jargon " in which the claims of the Vatican are sometimes stated. We ask only that the Office occupied by Pius XII should be studied in the light of the present situation. If that is done with unprejudiced minds, it is no exaggeration to say that the Office and the fundamental need of our suffering generation would be found to be related as key to lock. Take the question, if you will, out of its ecclesiastical setting and view it with no other assistance than is given by worldly wisdom, and the suggestion made will still appear worthy of consideration.
That will be even more so when the personality of the present Pontiff is taken into account. Pius XII's wide and long diplomatic experience, in particular his intimate understanding of the German mind and the close relations which exist between him and President Roosevelt, give him exceptional Opportunities of acting, should he consent to do so, as mediator. The Man and the Hour are, it would seem, exactly fitted the one to the other.
The argument, at other times, might carry little weight, but to-day when humanity is on the brink of the abyss that drops away into chaos.