I came across an interesting statement made by in London by Sir Wilfred Lawson at the last Congress of Universal Peace in 1890:
I am surprised at the way religion is carried on in this country. You send a boy to Sunday school, and you tell him: ‘Dear boy, you must love your enemies. If another boy strikes you, you mustn’t hit him back, but try to reform him by loving him.’ Well. The boy stays in Sunday school till he is fourteen or fifteen, and then his friends send him into the army. What has he to do in the army? He certainly won’t love his enemy; quite the contrary, if he can only get at him, he will run him through with his bayonet. That is the nature of all religious teaching in this country. I do not think that that is a very god way of carrying out the precepts of religion. I think if it is a good thing for a boy to love his enemy, it is good for a grown-up man.
This picture seems drawn from the world today. As in Lawson’s day, we pride ourselves on our alleged “progress,” but when you strip away the thin veneer of material developments and advances in our struggle against the environment, you see that our animal nature continues to have ascendancy over our soul.
Science, the new infallible religion, excuses man’s abuses under the pretext that he is the product of evolutionary forces and is therefore better than he’s ever been. Just as a religious zealot wags his finger at those he judges to be heathens, that is, those who hold beliefs outside of his creed, dogmatic acolytes of science wave away the possibility of a higher state of being and consequently, of living.
What have we come to? Or perhaps the more useful question is, “What haven’t we come to?” And why haven’t we? In my observation, the larger part of religious men don’t really seem to believe in the doctrine of loving their enemies, for starters. The Christian church has spent the last 2,000 years urging people to join the fight against the devil and his earthly representatives, so why would the individual members of the Church see life any differently?
Everyone knows that it is hard to sell a product that you don’t believe in. Children, if I can extrapolate my own experience onto the population of my peers, are good at telling the difference between the transference of genuine, deep-rooted feeling and a snow job. Put these two facts together and it is easy to understand why we have the longstanding disconnect which runs through economic, political and international life: the hypocrisy to which Lawson was alluding.
Repair this disconnect and you create the conditions through which a new world would soon be born.