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scorns equally to wrong others or to suffer others to wrong him.” And again, “True patriotism carries with it not hostility to other nations, but a quickened sense of responsible good-will towards other nations."
Admiral Decatur is reported to have said, in words that have become famous, "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she be always in the right; but our country, right or wrong!” In a very real sense we can all say Amen! to these words. Whatever wrongs our country may commit, she is still our country, and we shall love and serve her with undiminished ardor. But if these words mean that we should back an iniquitous policy, if our officials should be led into it, or even if a temporary popular majority should approve it, they are sinister words, deserving the sternest rebuke. Precisely the most patriotic service, on such an occasion, would consist in opposing to the last ditch the act that in our opinion would stain the national honor. Our country, right or wrong, yes; but if our country seems to you or to me to be, in any instance, in the wrong, it is our sacred duty not to connive at her wrongdoing, but to use whatever infinitesimal influence we may have in the effort to turn her back to the right, that her record may be untarnished and her name held in high honor among nations.
It is an old fallacy that a nation's honor requires it to be touchy and quick to resentment, that the way for it to be great is through making itself feared. It should be the pride of America that in spite of her great strength she is not feared but loved. It should be our boast that in our dealings with other countries we are always generous, always considerate of their interests as well as of our own; that we practice no secret intrigues, seek to get the advantage of no one,
but do unto other nations as we would have them do unto us. If this reputation were everywhere to be ours, how proud we should be to be Americans!
On the whole, as compared with the world's long history of international intrigue and chicane, our record is excellent. Secretary Hay stated our policy as follows: "The principles which have guided us have been of limpid simplicity ... We have set no traps; we have wasted no time in evading the imaginary traps of others ... There might be worse reputations for a country to acquire than that of always speaking the truth, and always expecting it from others. In bargaining we have tried not to get the worst of the deal, always remembering however, that the best bargains are those that satisfy both sides
.. Let us hope we may never be big enough to outgrow our conscience."
This statement, by one of our greatest Secretaries of State, of his working ideal, carries out the admonition of Washington: "Our politics must have for its basis the purest principles of private morality; and the same virtues which commend the good man to the esteem of his fellows must commend our republic to the esteem of the world.” President Wilson voiced this same ideal in an address to Congress, when he said, “We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their governments that are observed among individual citizens of civilized states."
Magnanimity and absence of rancor, courtesy toward our neighbors, a readiness to listen to what other peoples have to say, and a serious effort to understand them and adjust our needs to theirs, have distinguished the greatest Americans, and made
them not only national heroes but men whom all the world delights to honor. But the path is not easy
. to tread; and we must be constantly on our guard lest we lapse from this high ideal. It is easy to see the motes in our neighbors' eyes; their traditions and problems are not ours, and we can readily persuade ourselves that we should have been juster, more disinterested, more generous, in such and such a case, than they. It would better behoove us to listen with open minds to the criticisms of our own conduct on the part of these others. For abstract ideals easily go by the board in the face of concrete exigencies; and to see ourselves as others see us is a salutary discipline.
In a word, it is not more patriotism quantitatively that we need, but a higher quality of patriotism; not the sort of patriotism that has a chip on its shoulder, but the sort that seeks to make our nation first in justice, honor, and international service. And even more imperatively, the sort of patriotism that will make us conscious of our national solidarity, and glad to sacrifice our personal interests to the greatest welfare of our people as a whole. “America first" should mean precisely that;—the welfare of our country before our personal advantage. In the words of Mr. Elihu Root, “True love of country means a little different feeling toward every American because he is an American. It means a desire that every American shall be prosperous; it means kindly consideration for his opinions, for his views, for his interests, for his prejudices, and charity for his follies and his errors."
This sort of patriotism will not develop unaided, from Fourth of July celebrations and salutations of the flag. It must be carefully fostered, by systematic and skillful training. It requires the vigilance of every high-minded citizen to keep it from lapsing into its more primitive forms. But if it can be developed in masses of our countrymen into the noble passion that it has been in our greatest leaders, it will be a dynamic of incalculable power and beneficence.
“Out of a land of comfort and of ease,
Holding for conscience' sake the world well lost,
The savage arrow, and the hungry frost,
The legend of their courage we recall-
The glow of that heroic blood remains.
"We pile our heroes' cairns, each year a stone;
It is our joy the starry flag to wave
And those who died for freedom of the slave.
Proudly we tell of liberty's great price
Words bled from the deep hearts of those who paid.
"We who have grown so perfect in the word,
Where is the holy lightning of the deed ?
And soothed with dreams ere it has time to bleed,
Where is the Pilgrim soul that braved the sea
Of power to make America again
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
Bertrand Russell, Political Ideals, Chap. V.
printed in Fulton, op. cit., p. 210).