The form of the social ideal is then that of equality. Not, indeed, similarity of place and function for every one ; not that all should do the same work or get the same returns for their work; but simply that all should be in turn ends as well as means, that no one should dare make of another a mere instrument to his own satisfactions, but should regard him as having an independent worth and dignity of his own. Ah, when shall the time come when the name Man shall have more honor in our eyes than any title of rank or power; when in every man we shall see the king that is really there, though his crown be soiled and his garments tattered; when our proudest thought shall be, as we look back upon our own past, that in every relation of life we have owned and honored the man, that we have remembered the ideal royal brotherhood to which we all belong ? I believe it is possible not to rest in our own thought till to the eye of the soul that time shall have come ; till in vision we see humanity transfigured; till the everlasting principles of justice are inwrought into every fibre of its life; till one tide of love and of joy sweep through it, and it is indeed lifted out of the realm of the things that coma and go, and becomes a partner in the eternity of the purpose that created it. I see not how it is possible to stop short of this. I see not how one can be content with aiming at slightly ameliorated earthly conditions. I see not how the impulse that leads him to go so far does not lead him to go farther. I see no rest save in the thought of the perfect. I see no satisfaction, no peace for the individual soul save in losing itself in allegiance to that limitless idea, in making it to move us, stir us, impel us, and give a limitless sanctity to each particular act we do.
1 Bagehot, Physics and Politics, chap. ii. § 3. Cf. Tylor (Anthropology, p. 435): " Though the civilized world has outgrown the ancient institution [slavery], the benefits which early society gained from it still remain. It was through slave-labor that agriculture and industry increased, that wealth accumulated, and leisure was given to priests, scribes, poets, philosophers, to raise the level of men's minds".
I believe in a " City of the Light!"1 It is the social ideal; and from the thought of it, from the consecration to it, and the ordering of our lives in accordance with its demands, I look for a new birth of religion in the world. We are builders of that city. There are those who not in lightness, but in a sad sincerity, abandon prayer. It is no longer possible to think of the city as a boon coming down out of the heavens, — to look for it from without. The burden is laid on human beings; honor calls us to bear it; the very purpose of our being is to bear it. A voice from out the unseen itself seems to say : " Arise, O Man! from thy knees, and act. I call thee to be not a suppliant, but a creator; re-perform the primal magic now, and out of the chaos and the darkness that thou seest within and about thee bring thou order and bring thou light!" If prayers would bring the " Kingdom of God," should we not think that eighteen centuries of Christian praying would have brought it ? And if they have not, if the condition of the world, the selfishness of human hearts, the injuries, the wrongs, the hardness and contempt of the higher laws and commandments, yes, and the low content and practical unbelief in the possibility of anything better that so widely prevail, are all an open and patent contradiction of that ideal order of things, — what is the lesson, what is the moral to be drawn from the facts themselves, but that so long as we look without and above the answer will never come ; that religion, if it will be religion and no more child's play, must radically change its attitude, and set men themselves to the accomplishment of the task, which they have so long intrusted to another ?
1 The reference is to the beautiful lines under that title by Professor Adler. See p. 277 of this volume.
Having now considered the social ideal as regards its principle, the element of perfection belonging to it, and the true method for its accomplishment, let us ask, What is its practical meaning for us to-day; what is its bearing upon our political institutions, and the forms and habits of our social life ? First, in regard to the State. In ancient times, ethics was almost identical with politics ; a truly moral life was one which subserved the interests of the State. Our ideal is wider. Aristotle would regard barbarians, — that is, those who were not Greeks, — as little better than animals, and justified war to the end of making them slaves.1 To us, nations have rights over against nations, as individuals over against individuals ; and it is not permitted one nation to make another an instrument to its own ends merely. The social ideal demands, in a word, a law of nations. It does not forbid war, nor does it forbid conquest; but it forbids either of these for selfish aggrandizement. It makes the holding of a dependency for commercial interests and profit merely, without a conscious purpose of educating and civilizing and fitting those who belong to it for the duties of citizenship, a crime. It was such a mere business dependency that Great Britain wished to make of her colonies in America, and it was this that roused their indignation and led the embattled farmers at Concord stream to fire "... the shot heard round the world".
And though I grant that civilization has a perfect right to dispossess barbarism of an exclusive and profitless occupation of the soil, it is none the less a crime and a heinous crime to do as our country has done, — treat the dispossessed barbarians as if they had no claims whatever upon us. The Indians are human beings, they have the rights of human beings ; and if they cannot defend those rights, all the more shame on that government which will wantonly trample upon them. The Indians might have been elevated; they may still be elevated. It may be questioned whether there is a race of men on the earth which, if humanely and wisely treated, may not lose its savagery and take a place in the ranks of civilized peoples. Not all the interests of civilization justify injustice. Rather is it the problem for the superior race to lift the other with it, to use its superiority and its strength for service and not for oppression.
1 Politics, i. 8.