GENERAL ARTICLES

Where Are We Going?

G. STANLEY RUSSELL January 1 1935
GENERAL ARTICLES

Where Are We Going?

G. STANLEY RUSSELL January 1 1935

Where Are We Going?

GENERAL ARTICLES

G. STANLEY RUSSELL

THE POTENTIAL importance of this country is beyond all computation, and its power to realize its possibilities of greatness is latent in the hearts and wills of its citizens. As a constant and sympatheticvisitor—a son-in-law of the country—for very many years, and since then as a resident for other years, one may claim to have watched with eager interest the developments of the last quarter of a century, during which this country has passed from the Dominion mind to national consciousness.

She has become aware of herself in an entirely new way. She is even a little staggered by her amazing achievement. Not only have cities sprung out of the wilderness; roads, smooth and durable, flung their ribbons out to tie the cities together; not only have factories, mines and great commercial undertakings reached out their arms from here to embrace the world, but Canadian science, literature and art have been born, shown an insistent character of their own.

The achievements of Sir Frederick Banting, Sir Charles Saunders, Dr. C. D. G. Roberts and Dr. Ernest MacMillan have their root in a culture and genius peculiar to this country.

Of the wealth of our natural resources, as of the beauty of our natural landscapes, it is the custom of the after-dinner orator to discourse almost ad nauseam. On our mountains and our mining stocks, our control of nickel and our richness in gold, our prairies yellow with wheat and our rivers glistening with salmon, our pioneers and our populación, rhetoric would often seem to be indulging in “frantic boast and foolish word” were it not that its language, measured by the yardstick of fact, is that of soberness and truth.

Nor is this new consciousness unaware of the significance of Canada in world life. Its geographical situation has gradually been realized as strategic. With all the Americas to the south, Eluroix; to the east and Asia to the west, it is central to human thought and activity. It has demonstrated its loyalty to the League of Nations, and such writings as those of Lt.-Col. George Drew and such leadership as that afforded by Maclean's have shown that there exists in this country a clear, sane, enthusiastic mind for world peace.

Can we, however, say that such a mind is general among us? Have we yet seen the League as a Union of Peoples rather than as a Conference of Governments? In an age in which world unity is| the |only practical basis for politics or economics, it is surely the part of a nation which is the Main Street of the race and the Telephone Exchange of mankind, to lead human thought along supemational lines. Crude nationalism is not for us, and the narrow “Canada first” vision will only lose us our real destiny.

In this connection no less than in others, the willingness to offer life to a great vision is the only way by which life can be preserved. There is a real danger in our education, our Armistice celebrations and elsewhere, of a glorification in the eyes of the rising generation of that very militarism which so many gave their lives, their sight, their power to walk or their entire future happiness, to destroy.

There is nothing romantic about war or warriors in these days. The former is an insane futility, and the latter are its helpless victims. Lord Kitchener told the Countess of

Oxford that, after a lifetime spent in war, he had no hope whatsoever of any such road to "a righteous and permanent peace.” Lord Haig, addressing ministers of religion said, “Gentlemen, your business is to make my business impossible.” The civilian, not the soldier, constitutes the war peril. The revelations of those disgusting secret service and armament activities which underlie all war just mean that the foolish adulation given to flags, bands, uniforms and marching regiments is as uninformed as the murmurs of admiration accorded a picturesque cottage with honeysuckle over the doors and death in the drains.

Religion has never yet cleared its head on this business since Constantine, by his “conversion,” captured Christianity for military imperialism. Conferences do occasionally discuss the inane question as to whether clergymen should become army chaplains, which is really not the question at all. The actual issue is whether, in the event of another war, the boys of Canada are to be allowed to march to hell without such comfort as the padre can give. For my part, holding fairly extreme views on war, the answer is an emphatic “No,” and I am not to be turned from that answer by such niggling questions as the clergy love as to whether or not I can. consistently, don a uniform. loathing the whole thing —as the boys loathed it, more often than not—I wore a uniform before and would do so again. No, the questions are deejxr than that. To what or whom, for instance, do we dedicate military colors? Is it to the Prince of Peace or His Father? Why are national flags conspicuous in churches which refuse admission to the Cross, their own and only emblem? Canada has some thinking to do on these matters. She stands at the intersection of the ways of nationalism and

supernationalism. The former is of yesterday, the latter of tomorrow—which will she take?

Un-British Trends

WITHIN HER OWN borders the choices are equally clear and urgent. She has inherited, and professes— I believe sincerely—to admire the British traditions and culture from which she sprang—and they are worthy of admiration. Tested by the centuries, they have alone weathered the storms of these later years. Neither Hitler nor Stalin can hope for much from the stolid commonsense of the British people. Neither brown shirts nor red ties will ever prevail against those grey flannel trousers which are the Englishman’s favorite garb and in which the very thought of revolution is impossible.

The British tradition, as “Cavalcade” nobly sums it up,, is of dignity as well as of justice and progress; it is also of probity no less than our culture in high places. British social services—thanks largely to Lloyd George—are a quarter of a century ahead of all other nations, including this one. We are just beginning to talk of schemes the Old Land adopted years ago. The idea that we are progressive and she reactionary is far from the truth. No one who lived there, as I did, and can remember public affairs from the election which returned Mr. Gladstone in 1892 to that which installed the Labor Governments thirty years later, can doubt that Britain has passed calmly and bloodlessly but definitely through a revolution as complete as ever overtook any land.

Some of her ideas, such as the subjection of the wageearner, she flung recklessly away. Others, notably the leadership and inspiration of the Throne, she established more surely than ever. In the most truly democratic coun-

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try in the world the most influential person is King George V. Now among the elements of this British tradition is the incorruptibility of the politician. No dishonest public man could exist in that country, nor would "probes," charges of corruption or personal advantage be permitted in anyone who aspired to the most sacred of all tasks the government of his fellows. The eclipse of Lloyd George and the rise of Ramsay MacDonald and Baldwin are the plain man’s verdict that he prefers frank and open dealing to the cleverest manipulations by the most consummate master of strategy.

As is the honesty, so is the dignity. Courtesy and precedent mark public affairs and do much to preserve their incorruptible character. A mayor is the embodiment of the civic consciousness, not a brawling partisan. A County Councillor—which is really what our Provincial Legislature amounts tois a gentleman, not a wirepuller. He avoids “jobs," i>ersonalities and vulgar boastings.

I have no party politics—I lost faith in the “machine” as a means of hastening the arrival of the New Jerusalem long ago but I should always vote against vulgarity, abuse and braggadocio. The man who uses them has no leadership to offer which a nation, a province or a city can accept with honor or advantage. A vote against vulgarity is usually a blow for public righteousness. Men will be judged, in the end, by their records, their manners and their I>ersonal dignity.

Hysterical emotion—in wartime for instance-may warp or overcloud those standards, but I do not believe in the possibility of Canada, sprung from and loyal to the British spirit, permitting the word “politician” to become a contemptible equivalent for “sharper,” or permitting government—to her life so vital to be long in the hands of either hooligans or thieves.

We have a number of wild men in this country who imagine that to scream against “systems” when the lack of system is the real trouble, against "titles” when the King’s ancient method of honoring his servants cheaply as well as adequately is denounced by “Honorables,” “Colonels” and “Doctors” whose real trouble seems to be psychological, will get us to some undefined but desirable goal.

It seems to come from the same complex which makes moderate drinking so rare on this side of the ocean. Liquor apjxars to derange a section of our people if they so much as smell a cork ; and, in the same way, social reform, ancient ceremonials, noble and storied ways of conduct, seem to afflict them with an imbecile lust for destruction, which is due not to an instinct for progress but to an inferiority complex.

The same un-British attitude marks the conduct of this portion of the people toward those who do not belong to their group. One of the sights which most amazed a South African visitor to London was that of a “colored gentleman” coming out of the Ritz Hotel on his own feet, instead of being propelled by those of others. In Britain the only social or religious ban is that of personal undesirability. Before every law men are equal, and nothing disqualifies or punishes a colored man — black, yellow or brown— which would not operate equally in the case of a white.

On paper we Canadians claim the same tolerant spirit—indeed, apart from the Old Land, we are the only nation in the Empire which makes any pretensions to it. Is it quite genuine? I know the Jew suffers from a persecution mania everywhere except in England, but is it any wonder, and are our minds quite free from prejudice which is racial, and never gives a frank and cordial chance to individual merit to proclaim itself? Can the Protestants among us put our hands on our hearts and swear that we always classify a Roman Catholic by his jxrsonal

qualities and not as a member of a, to us. banned religion?

In a country which contains so many of them, is it politic, let alone British, to indulge in the Anglo-Saxon purr of self-appreciation when "Chinks” “Dagoes” and "Niggers” stand ready to make contributions to our life quite equal to many of our own? Indeed the loyalty to Canada of citizens of other than British extraction constitutes an immense challenge to our traditional fairness and sense of justice.

Duty of Loyal Citizens

TT WILL BE objected that “we are too

near the United States” to hope for clean and dignified public life, or for the absence j of group prejudice, or for that respect for the law which is the secret of British stabij lity and security. Assuming for the sake of argument that the influence of the United States is of the sort inferred, the only conclusion to be drawn from such proximity is that we must be more than ever vigilant and resolute. The increase of lawlessness, the further deterioration of our public life and the threatened thoughtlessness of much social upheaval, are serious portents in the Canadian sky.

Materialism and panic are diseases easy to contract and difficult to cure, both of which lurk in our constitution as a people, j Ancient oak trees which have weathered ; the centuries cannot be built; they must grow. On the other hand the acorns which they bear and which are planted in new soil are rightly expected to be true to the parent life. We have transplanted much of the ancient essence the love of freedom, the value of education, the enthusiasm for religion and philanthropy, the refusal to distinguish between honest labor of brain on the one side, and of hand on the other—all these we have inherited, established and enhanced. It now becomes the duty of all loyal citizens to see that world peace, publichonesty and dignity, and respect for the law are insisted upon as part of our national programme.

No one imagines that Canadian life can be modelled in detail on British institutions. It is, however, essential that it be inspired by the British spirit. No greatness is possible to a land, whatever its resources or situation, where “men decay” or they undervalue the moral and idealistic factors in the making of its future. It is at that parting of the ways that this nation stands today.

I repeat that I own no allegiance to any political party, and desire to convey no inference that I take sides in any personal controversies which have lately arisen. On the other hand, as a Scottish son-in-law of Canada I learned through long years to love and admire her. and now, adopted as a son,

I wish to translate that love and admiration into the true filial service of contributing to a national quality which has already raised her to a high place among the nations and may well call her eventually to the very van in humanity’s march out of darkness into the light.

Fans for Auto Wheels

THE temperatures of tires used on the big wheels of trucks and buses can be greatly reduced, it is said, by a new far.-like ventilating device built into the outer of the pair of wheels. The high temperature induced in such tires hastens the deterioration of the rubber. Heat is reduced with the new attachment which blows a stream of air through the spokes of the outer wheel.

Striking the rims of both tires and the brake drum, the air carries off much of the heat that would otherwise be absorbed by the tires.—Popular Science.