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Problems of Humanity - Chapter I - The Psychological Rehabilitation of the Nations
The United States

The psychological problem with which the United States of America is confronted is that of learning to shoulder worldwide responsibility. Both Great Britain and Russia have already learned that lesson in some form.

The American people - as they pass out of the stage of adolescence - must learn the lessons of life through experimentation and resultant experience. This is a lesson that all young people have to learn. The German race is old; the German nation is very young. The Italian people are of ancient origin; the Italian state is historically of very recent date. The accusation of youth (if it is an accusation) is also true of the United States. A great future lies ahead of that nation but not because of material power or commercial efficiency, as many materially-minded people think. The reason lies in a deeply spiritual, innate idealism, enormous humanitarian potentiality and - above all else - because virgin and non-effete stock of largely peasant and middle class origin is determining the race. Steadily in all nations, the power in government and in determining practical ideologies is rapidly passing into the hands of the "people" and out of the hands of the so-called ruling classes and the aristocracy. Countries such as Great Britain and France, which have accepted the determining evolutionary tendencies, can move forward with greater ease into the future than can such countries as Spain and Poland which have been ruled for centuries by a dominant aristocracy and a politically-minded church. The United States of America has no such handicap, except insofar as the laws of capital and finance seek control. The same is largely true of Great Britain.

The roots of the people in the United States are necessarily in other countries because its citizens have [26] originally come out of those countries. They have no indigenous people except the Red Indian who has been ruthlessly dispossessed by the on-rushing tide from other lands. The racial groups within the States still bear the marks of their origin and of their racial heritage; they are psychologically and physically of Italian, British, Finnish, German and other origins. In this fact consists part of the wonder of this rapidly integrating nation.

Like all young people, symbolically speaking, the people of the United States show all the characteristics of adolescence. Again, symbolically speaking, the people of the United States are of the ages seventeen to twenty-four. They shout freedom and still are not free; they refuse to be told what to do because it infringes upon their rights, nevertheless they allow themselves to be guided frequently by the inept, the partisan politician and by the inadequate; they are broadly tolerant and yet most intolerant of other nations; they are ready to tell other nations how to handle their problems but as yet evidence no ability to handle their own, as witness the treatment of the American Negroes and the withholding of equal freedom and opportunity from them. They are restlessly experimenting with all phases of life, with every kind of idea and all kinds of relationships. The creative power of the race shows itself as yet in a wonderful control of nature and in great construction projects which bring water under control, or which relate all parts of this vast country through roads and waterways. America is a great battleground for experiment along creative lines; it is profoundly interested in trying out every kind of ideology. The fight between capital and labor will reach its climax in the United States, but will also be fought out in Great Britain and France. Russia already has her own solution but the lesser nations of the world will be guided and conditioned [27] by the result of this battle in the British Commonwealth of Nations and in the United States.

Order must be brought about in the States and this order will come when freedom is interpreted in terms of self-chosen discipline; a freedom which can turn into license and which is interpreted by each individual in the best interests of himself constitutes a danger to be avoided. It is a danger of which the best minds are deeply aware.

Like all young people, Americans feel superior to more mature fellow nations; they are apt to think that they have a higher idealism, a saner outlook and a greater love of freedom than other nations; they are apt to forget that though there may be some backward nations, there are many nations in the world with as high an idealism, as sound a body of motives, and with a more mature and experienced approach to world problems. Again, like all young people, the American is intensely critical of other people, but often blind to and always resentful of criticism. Yet there is as much to criticize in America as there is in any other nation; all nations have a vast house cleaning to do, and the difficulty at this time is that they must do it alongside of the strict fulfiling of their international relationships. No nation can live unto itself today. If it attempts to do so it treads the way of death and that is the true horror of the isolationist position. Factually today we have one world and this sums up the psychological problem of humanity. The goal is right human relations; nations will stand or fall just in so far as they measure up to that vision. The era ahead of us - under evolutionary law and the will of God - is to see the establishment of right human relations.

We are entering a vast experimental period of discovery; we shall discover just exactly what we are - as [28] nations, in our group relationships, through our expression of religion and in our mode of governments. It will be an intensely difficult era and will be only successfully lived through if each nation will recognize its own internal defects and will handle them with vision and deliberate humanitarian purpose. This means for each nation the overcoming of pride and the attainment of interior unity. Each country today is divided within itself by warring groups - idealists and realists, political parties and farsighted statesmanship, religious groups, fanatically occupied with their own ideas, capital and labor, isolationists and internationalists, people violently against certain groups or nations and others working on behalf of them. The only factor which can eventually and in due time bring harmony and the end of these chaotic conditions is right human relations.

Every country also has much to contribute but as long as that contribution is considered, as it now is, in terms of its commercial value or its political usefulness, that contribution will not be given in aid of right human relations.

Every country must also receive from all other countries. This involves a recognition of certain specific lacks, plus a willingness to take from others on terms of equality. Every country has its own peculiar note which must be brought into unison and swell the great chorus from all the nations. This will only be possible when pure religion is restored and the spiritual impetus, nascent in every nation, is given free expression. This is not yet the case; theological forms still hold the spiritual life.

Every nation, owing to its past history, and to its own deeds and enactments, is closely related to every other nation, and of this fact the U.S.A. is perhaps more expressive than many, because its nationals have come from all the known races. Isolationism was [29] defeated even before it reared its ugly head because the people of America are international by origin and background.

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