« PreviousContinue »
life. The child felt the disciplining hand of parent and developed a respect for fundamental virtues. Today persuasion has been substituted for compulsion, but the persuading often degenerates into supplicating and importuning. As a result parental discipline is breaking and consideration of the wishes of elders is being ignored. Immigrant parents suffer unspeakable chagrin because of the disrespectful attitude of their children who are learning their first lessons in American manners. A generation is rising in our large cities without proper ballast.
Decreasing respect for the sanctities of marriage and an increasing divorce rate are deleterious tendencies. When marriage is considered merely as a civil contract to be made or broken at will, a nation is in greater peril than if an armed force were at its gates.
The increasing homelessness of Americans is startling in the extreme. In an average American city an average family cannot afford a home. It is cheaper to rent than to own. The larger the city the less feasible is home ownership. We are already upon times in new America when the majority of our urban residents are homeless-in the sense of being unable to live in homes which they own or for which they are paying. The situation is pathetic in regard to immigrants who look toward free America for homes. The percentage of foreignborn wage-earners in our industrial cities who are home-owners is twice as great as the percentage of the native-born in this class. It is a sad fact that the native-born have given up the hope, while the
foreign-born are trying against insuperable odds to acquire a home and to cultivate the sense of ownership. Surely we do not want to make of America a nation of lordly palaces with servant races begging for floor-space on which to "pitch their gypsy tents."
For the well-to-do American, apartment-house life with a minimum of home life and a maximum of indulgent pleasures is becoming a widespread movement. Children mingle in stairways and alleys, or walk or run the streets without maternal supervision. Idle, unsupervised hours lead to indifference, delinquency, recklessness. All these proclivities are undermining the home as an American institution. Any nation which would survive must preserve a sound family life.
8. The twentieth century in America has seen not only a sloughing off of outworn religious forms, but an open disregard for the church and the sanctities of religion. Fundamental American ideals, however, have always included the religious element. It was the Pilgrim Fathers who said that they had undertaken the voyage to America "for ye glory of God and advancement of ye Christian faith." It was from the Old Testament that the inscription was taken for the Liberty Bell. It was Washington who held that religion is an indispensable support to political prosperity and that patriotism is in vain if it subvert this great pillar of human happiness; that the security for life, reputation, property is nowhere to be found if the sense of religious obliga tion be cut off; and that it is doubtful if even morality can be maintained without religion. It was Lin
coln who declared that "this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom." It was President Wilson who in setting the nation at war against autocracy and for democracy asserted: "God helping her, she can do no other."
Colossal efforts are being put forth by the various religious bodies. The Protestants are awake and pushing forward their work but have not yet succeeded in delivering a religious message in a way that wins the immigrants of the last thirty years in large numbers. The Roman Catholic Church has found the nature of its organization changing and weakened in unexpected ways. Many of its members, such as the Czecho-Slovaks, have broken away in large numbers and formed free-thinking societies. The effect of America upon the child of the orthodox Jew is well-known. America frequently de-Judaizes the Jew without Christianizing him. The appeal of socialism to him is oftentimes greater than that of Christianity.
In spite of surface drifts, the American is fundamentally religious at heart. Even beneath the crude exterior of the illiterate immigrant there are dynamic religious impulses. Americanization means purifying and socializing of the religious beliefs of native Americans; it also connotes a wholesome, constructive, and broad-minded appeal to the religious disposition of the immigrant, who will respond and contribute mightily to the spiritual nature of America.
In conclusion, Americanization of average Americans involves the rebirth of all our fundamental vir
tues. Average Americans must become pace-setters of all that is good and true and that is civically and socially dynamic in America's vision. The immigrant is more than ready to contribute his share in this process.
THE AMERICAN INDIAN
In the United States, today, there are nearly 300,000 Indians, who represent a race once in possession of America. They are more nearly Simonpure American than any race in our country. But what has been the history of their contact with our Americanism?
The English colonists, according to A. B. Hart, sought to make slaves of the Indians. But the red man could not understand slavery-his pride forbade. Conquest, extermination, and racial death, therefore, became his sad fate. The Indian lived in the pretended nobility of his origin. He loved his out-of-door hunting life as the distinguishing trait of his race; he had no desire to give up his standards for what he considered the unsatisfactory status of civilization. He despised the "paleface" and scorned a race which in his judgment had succumbed to the monotonous and tedious discipline of labor. He felt "an unsurmountable disgust for the methods the Europeans used in attaining their superiority."
A. de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, I:340ff. 'Ibid, p. 349.