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THE HIGHER PATRIOTISM.
THERE are certain familiar phrases on the lips and in the press to-day, such as "the higher education," "the higher criticism," "the higher culture." The meaning of these phrases may not be clearly grasped by all who hear or see them, nor even, possibly, by all who use them. Yet they all denote, in some way, a higher or more comprehensive standard of judgment, with regard to the subject-matter considered, than was in vogue even less than a half-century ago. "The higher education" means not merely an advanced course of instruction beyond the traditional "three R's" of the old-time common school, but it means an advancement of the whole realm of learning. It means that there is a higher school than the high school, and that the college course of studies has been widened immeasurably from the routine of a generation or two back, and that, even in the common school, glimpses are given of this larger realm of knowledge. It means, too, quite as much, a different educational method in every grade and kind of education, that education is no longer the mere hammering of facts into the brain, but the training of the brain into the perceptions and use of facts. So "the higher criticism" means the
application of a new and more scientific method of research to the subject-matters of learning, and particularly to the study of the Bible and the general phenomena of religion.
But the phrases themselves, even more than their meaning, have suggested my topic this morning, in connection with the annual recurrence of our national birthday. The age which is talking so much of the higher education, the higher criticism, the higher culture, the higher civilization, should certainly recognize the need of a higher patriotism. And we of this country, at the present hour, are, in my opinion, in a condition of urgent need of a higher standard of patriotic sentiment than that which apparently animates the active majority of our country's population. If the country is to do its part worthily in behalf of these great interests of education, culture, civilization, and religion, if it is even to hold worthily the traditions of the past in these respects, it is of the utmost importance that the standard of patriotism among us should be lifted to a higher level, that the sentiment of patriotism—that is, our love for and our pride in our country-should be infused with a loftier and purer principle. These great interests, it is true, are not bounded by national frontiers. Humanity overleaps the distinctions of country and race. Religion is as wide as the world. Learning and civilization are not provincialized to any one land. The philanthropist may truthfully say, "My country is the world; my countrymen are
mankind." Yet we cannot live in all countries at once. Our work must be done in some special part of the world, in connection with some special country and people. And the more and better work we do for the elevation of our own country and people, the more effectively will our power be manifest in promoting the interests of mankind the world over. The working end of our lever for lifting the human race forward is in our own land.
These statements, again, presuppose that our regard and service for our own country are based on ethical principles. The kind of patriotism whose motto is, "Our country, right or wrong," or even, "Our country, however bounded," is not to be commended. National selfishness is just as immoral as individual selfishness. The self-aggrandizement of one nation at the cost of another nation, especially if the latter be a weak nation at the mercy of a strong neighbor, is just as much a violation of the principles of honor and justice as would be a similar course of conduct by one man toward another. The building up of one country by defrauding another is just as much theft as it is when one individual land-owner adds to his estate by some fraudulent depredation on his neighbor's property rights. "Thou shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor's,' "Thou shalt not bear false witness," are commandments which apply to nations as well as to individuals. Yet, on account of the difficulty of fixing the weight of moral responsibility so that it may
be felt, where for the acts of nations there are so many who may properly share it, there is a too general acquiescence in the idea, though few would openly defend it, that there is a lower moral code for the conduct of nations than for individuals. Then, too, on account of sentimental associations which people have with the land of their birth and their homes, of their fathers and their kindred, a glamour is apt to creep over the conscience when. it is a question of moral judgment concerning one's own country's deeds. It is a feeling akin to that which leads one to look blindly, if not forgivingly, toward the faults of one's own family. But, however excusable or even commendable such tenderness may be toward moral infirmity in the family circle, it is not a mood of mind that is morally wholesome for a citizen to entertain toward his country. The relation is, in fact, so different that no moral parallelism exists between the two cases. In the family the upright and the infirm are equally members of one body, and the relation is between one individual and another. But the citizen is a part of his country. The citizen is not one individual and his country another, but the citizens together are the country. Its acts are their acts. Its morality is their morality. Its infirmities are their infirmities. Hence, when the citizens are. induced to look tenderly and forgivingly toward their country's faults, they are really excusing and petting their own faults; and this is a national mood of mind that is anything but wholesome and
reformatory. We want no patriotism in this age which asserts that one's own country can do no wrong, more than we want the antiquated doctrine that "the king can do no wrong." One assertion is as false as the other. The higher patriotism must be interfused, through and through, with the ethical sentiment. It cannot be merely the love and defence of one's country because it chances to be one's birthplace and home and to hold the graves of one's forefathers, but it should be an aspiration and purpose to make a country which shall be morally worthy of the love and defence of noble-minded citizens. Not what our country is, but what it can and ought to be, is the central pivot of the higher patriotism.
As to our own country, there is so much in its history and in the basic principles of its government that is worthy of the utmost moral admiration that the danger is that any one generation is tempted to trust too much to that roll of honor and to boast of it as a shield against any arraignment of present delinquencies. And then, too, ours is a country so magnificent in its extent and resources, its growth and prosperity have been so unexampled, its natural scenery is so diversified in beauty and grandeur, and its people, rapidly multiplying by migrations from all parts of the earth, have shown, on the whole, in the little more than a century since they became an independent nation, such a marvel of success in the art of self-government, that our patriotic sentiment is quick to go