There is a direct connection between an Emperor’s proclivity for killing that leads him and his party ruthlessly and flippantly to shoot two or three thousand pheasants in a single day and to pride themselves upon the achievement,
and words such as were recently addressed to a portion of the army at the head of which he temporarily is, enjoining them, above all things, to go out with revenge as their watchword, on account of certain indignities shown to a few citizens of that country in the far East recently.
The spectacle of one who prides himself upon being the head of a Christian nation, counseling and arousing and fostering a spirit of revenge is indeed anomalous. But the step is not a long one from blood-spilling in the animal world to the same in connection with human beings, and to a spirit of hatred and revenge which shows that most essential elements of a true Christian character are wanting.
There is a direct connection between the unwise, expensive, and thoroughly unstates-man like method of dealing with the recent differences in South Africa, and the Royal Buckhounds which to-day ornament—no, not ornament, but disgrace—the Queen’s Court.
The time is coming when the practice of tame deer hunting will be as much looked down upon, and condemned as brutal and unworthy English gentlemen, as the bulland bear- baiting that prevailed so universally in Elizabeth's day are at the present time.
The time is coming when in England, in Germany, in America, in every nation, the people will find that there is a higher duty than that of following the leadership of men miscalled statesmen, because lacking in that spirit of honest, frank consideration and conciliation, through lack of which disputes are allowed to come to a settlement by force of arms, the consequent burden being thrown upon the people to bear.
The time is coming when we shall find that this is not patriotism, but that patriotism is that ready service which works for the people’s highest welfare, and that the people’s highest welfare is served most by keeping their country, among other things, out of expensive and demoralizing bloody warfare, rather than by getting it into war.
It was the President of the American Humane Education Society who most truthfully said: ” Unnecessary wars are simply wholesale murder, and the men who cause them [however high their positions] are the greatest and worst of criminals.”
It is the same spirit of killing and “pigsticking,” and looking upon the animal world simply as something to use for our own pleasure or gain, without any consideration of their rights, and without any impulse to care for and treat them kindly, that fosters that thoroughly insane imperialistic tendency that has gained such footing in England of late, endangering the very existence of the empire, and demanding the enormous price to be paid that is being demanded to-day.
The same imperialistic tendency in America has lately brought the nation dangerously near to the parting of the ways, one of which leads to the continual upbuilding of a republic, the pride of all time, the other to its gradual undermining, by transforming it into an empire — if not in name, in reality — and thus sending it,
through the violation of great elemental laws, to the same ends that all nations that have adopted a similar course have or must inevitably come to.
It is this spirit, a tendency to which has been witnessed in America but recently, which will gradually blunt, and in time entirely kill, the quick, noble, and God-like expression of sympathy for a people struggling for freedom and liberty.
The destiny and power of the American nation depends upon the fostering of the spirit of kindliness, love of fair play, and desire for conciliation, and hence of peace, in distinction from the spirit of militarism which great corporate interests and corporate politicians would have dominant in the country.
When the interests of the people are zealously guarded and righteously cared for, then when an emergency arises and there is a call to arms for defensive purposes, the only possible justification of any resort to arms, the nation will find that it has a citizen soldiery as vast as the numbers of its male population, and far more effective in the long run, than any hired body of soldiery can possibly ever be.
And instead of supporting a vast army of men who are producing nothing, contributing nothing to the nation’s welfare, but living upon the labour of others, and waiting merely for orders to shoot, mangle, and do to death men, fellow-men of another nation,
each will be working for himself and for all, and will be enjoying the fruits of his labour.
It is to humane education that we must look to save us from the monstrous system of militarism which at present prevails in the larger share of European countries.
In passing through Germany not long since, I was particularly impressed with seeing in fields here and there large companies of soldiers drilling and maneuvering, while in the fields on all sides of them, were numbers chiefly of women and children, and oxen and horses hard at work.
This condition prevails to a great extent over the greater part of Germany. It is so, to a greater or less degree, in the other European nations where the military system has grown to such enormous proportions.
To seek neither the gold fields nor the territory of other peoples, to live in peace with all nations so far as in us lies, to be willing in all cases to give justice, as we are quick to demand it, to believe thoroughly that there are no questions or complications arising that cannot be settled by conciliation and arbitration if there is the earnest sincere desire to do so,
and to have in public office men who are imbued with this idea, refusing admittance to those who are not wise enough to be guided by this principle, but in whom the spirit of swagger, brow-beating, and bravado prevails—in these, among other things, lies the hope, the healthfulness, the great and growing
power, the future grandeur of the American nation. It is in this way that she can preserve and maintain and continually increase her unique position among the nations of the earth.
This reign of peace is indeed the condition that all people who are humanely inclined, all people who are lovers of animals, should work to bring about, and thus to save the many thousands of horses and mules and oxen the inhuman treatment and the terrific suffering to which they are always subjected when a war is in progress.
The treatment that thousands of animals have been subjected to both on transport and on train, and on the field in South Africa during the past few months, is a burning disgrace to the British nation.
Brutalities have been engaged in and condoned, that would not be countenanced for an instant by the government of this or any other nation at all civilized, in ordinary circumstances. The very nature of the conditions, of course, makes it hard for the noble and willing animals to be carefully attended to and mercifully treated. And this is greatly accentuated by the fact that every diabolical agency is L-t loose which
increases the spirit that actuates the ill-treatment and the most awful abuses on the part of those who have the animals in charge. But this very fact makes it all the more imperative for those who value humane education, to work all the more zealously and unceasingly for its universal advancement, so that conditions of this kind may be prevented, and the causes of a terrible amount of suffering to hosts of noble animals may be done away with.
The time is coming when practically all, with Cowper, will say and feel:
” I would not enter on my list of friends, Though graced with polished manners and fine sense. Yet wanting in sensibility, the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.”
This is our ultimate destiny, though we have been coming up the steep most tardily.
Personally, I would rather be the author, and have the rare unfoldment of heart and sympathy of the author, of the following little stanzas, than be the greatest military leader in the world to-day:
“Across the narrow beach we flit, One little sandpiper and I ; And fast I gather, bit by bit. The scattered driftwood bleached and dry. The wild waves reach their hands for it, The wild wind raves, the tide runs high, As up and down the beach we flit,—
One little sandpiper and I. I watch him as he skims along, Uttering his faint and mournful cry ;
He starts not at my fitful song, Or flash of fluttering drapery ; He has no thought of any wrong, He scans me with a fearless eye,—
Staunch friends are we, well-tried and strong,The little sandpiper and I. Comrade, where wilt thou be to-night,
When the loosed storm breaks furiously ? My driftwood fire will burn so bright ! To what warm shelter canst thou fly? I do not fear for thee though wroth The tempest rushes through the sky ; For are we not God’s children both, Thou, little sandpiper, and I.”
Instead of the spirit of destruction and the desire to gain something for ourselves, to kill something, to tear something from its life, even at the expense of breaking up
that wonderful harmony which reigns in God’s world, we need the spirit which animated Emerson when he wrote the lines entitled ” Forbearance ” :
” Hast thou named all the birds without a gun ? Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk ? At rich men’s tables eaten bread and pulse ? Unarmed, faced danger with a heart of trust ? And loved so well a high behavior, In man or maid, that thou from speech refrained. Nobility more nobly to repay? O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine !”
Treatment of Criminals
In the degree that moral, heart, humane training finds its place among us as a people, in that degree shall we come nearer a wise and humane method of treatment,
so far as the more unfortunate ones among us, whom we denominate by the term “criminal,” is concerned. It is a well-known fact that we have not as yet found the true method of dealing with these our fellow-beings. Our methods deal too much with punishment, and not enough with unfoldment, and thereby prevention.
Our methods in the long run tend to make criminals, and to perpetuate criminals, rather than to prevent them or to transform them into law-abiding and honorable citizens.
When a man makes a mistake that any of us might have made, and that possibly under like conditions many of us would have made, the spirit of punishment for the sake of punishment, even to the extent of revenge, so holds us as a people that we truly share in the wrong-doing of the one whom we condemn and injure, when by another,
a more sane, a more thoughtful, a more kindly and common – sense method, we would be instrumental in bringing about a set of conditions which, instead of perpetuating the man as a criminal, would make him an honour and a blessing to the community in which he lives.
Likewise, when through misfortune or broken health, an inability to find work, and many times in a starving condition, a man or a woman is compelled to find entrance to the workhouses in England, in many at least he is treated more as a beast, or as an inanimate object, than as a human being. He who enters these must, as a rule, leave all hopes for love and kindly and sympathetic treatment behind.
And this, indeed, is the reason why so many deliberately take their own lives rather than enter them. And yet it is England who prides herself upon being the world’s greatest Empire—a great Christian nation whose mission it is, even with shot and shell her leaders will tell you, to carry the blessings of a Christian civilization to the inferior peoples of the world.
When we once begin to understand that ignorance is at the bottom of all wrongdoing, of all sin and error and crime, with their attendant sufferings and losses, then we shall begin to realize that sympathy and compassion—and, consequently, kindly treatment — instead of punishment and revenge, is necessary if we would truly aid one who has stumbled.
The systems in vogue to-day will make and will perpetuate criminals; they will not transform a wrongdoer into a strong, sympathetic, and honest man or woman. They may make him or her a greater danger to society, but they will never make him or her an aid to the community, or an aid in bringing about a higher state of life and civilization in the community, as practically every one of such can be made. In the work of
George Junior Republic, in New York State, we have an evidence of what can be accomplished when work is begun from the right side. And if boys can be reached so effectively by these methods, certainly men and women can be also.
During a single year recently a hundred and sixty thousand cases in round numbers were committed to prison in England and Wales. Of this number over sixty-one thousand—considerably more than a third— were committed for a week or less.
Now, under a wise and more enlightened system of penal law, most of these cases need not, and should not, have come to prison at all. In the matter of imprisonment it is so often that it is the first step, the first commitment, which counts and which eventually evolves a criminal future.
Of these sixty-one thousand cases and over, a very large number were first offenders, and many were imprisoned for but three or four days. How often it has been said by one whose life has been one of the criminal cast,
” If I hadn’t got that three or four days (or that week) when a boy, how different my whole life would have been.”
If, therefore, we would prevent having a criminal class we must do everything in our power to prevent unnecessary additions to it, and especially should we refrain from actually driving early and slight offenders into its ranks.
And then the meaningless, unnecessary, and deplorable degradations that so often accompany the treatment of prisoners are worthy of the most unreserved condemnation.
There is enough degradation, God knows, accompanying the entrance to prison life in itself without any studied additions to it. When, through studied efforts, or the blind and brainless following of bad precedent on the part of prison officials,
it is made next to impossible for one in prison to receive frank and open-hearted kindness, and when thereby it is made impossible for him spontaneously to give kindness, then no more successful steps in the process of perpetuating him as a criminal, could be taken. Instead of wise,
Christ-like steps to awaken, to feed, and to foster this greatest of heart qualities, hand-in-hand with self-respect, from the very first, crushing blows are given for its total destruction. Little wonder is it, then, that so often the offender comes out of prison with that deep and sullen hatred of all established order, that makes him more dangerous to himself and to society at large than ever before.
Any system of penal law and prison discipline or treatment that does not give a man or a woman back to the world better than when he or she entered the prison gates, is one greatly to be deplored. Here and there, however, there are brave and able men and women, strong, sweet, and with great love in their natures,
who are giving themselves to this work, and who are quietly and gradually leading us into a better day. And as better social and more equal industrial conditions for the great mass of the people come about, and as a more vital, humane, heart-training for all classes, from the so-called highest to the so-called lowest, takes its place amongst us, then this great and constant problem will be already to a great extent solved.
Every Living Creature by Ralph W. Trine Published 1899