Obedience to natural laws demands a discipline more exacting than that of the Stoics and quite as hard as that of the Christians during the first centuries of the Church. How shall we overcome our aversion to restraint, privations and suffering? Logic will not help us sufficiently. Men like Socrates who are capable of preferring reason to life are highly exceptional. No one completely immolates himself in the cause of scientific truth. Galileo himself refused to be martyred. The barriers raised by ignorance, cowardice and sloth are never overthrown by logic. When an idea succeeds in transforming mens conduct, it is because it contains elements which are affective as well as logical. Karl Marx was both a philosopher and a passionate revolutionary. Thus Communism has all the force of a religion.
It is faith and not reason which impels men to action. It is not the intelligence which will give us strength to live according to the order of things. Intelligence is content to point out the road but never drives us along it. In life, pure intellectuals behave like paralytics watching a race. They see the goal clearly but they are incapable of running on the track. Juggling with words is a sterile pastime. The love of abstractions engenders impotence.
We shall never conquer the difficulties which confront the nonconformist unless the impetus of feeling rises like a tide in the depths of our soul. The mainsprings of action belong to the affective order. In Plato himself they were not purely and simply rational. To act wisely, we need both feeling and reason for, without reason, sentiment can just as easily lead us to the bottom of the ocean as up into the stratosphere. We are driven to act by our elementary need; the need for food and water, for shelter, security, freedom and adventure. We are also driven by those simultaneous impulses of the spirit, the endocrine glands, the nervous system and the blood which we call jealousy, fear, hate or love. The need to know has impelled man in spite of himself along the road to inventions and discoveries. It was through this curiosity that we emerged from our primitive barbarism. The scientist is inspired neither by the love of humanity nor by the love of profit but by the need to ferret things out, to search and explore. Nevertheless, feeling becomes dangerous when not guided by reason. Jealousy, for example, can cause greater disasters than an epidemic of influenza. Everyone makes a greater effort to hurt other people than to help himself. Like hatred, jealousy is forbidden by the laws of life because it is essentially destructive. There are only two constructive passions; one is love, the other fear.
Only love has the power to throw down those ramparts behind which our egoism takes cover; to inflame our enthusiasm, to make us walk joyfully in the via dolorosa of sacrifice. It is for love of its mother that a small child behaves well. The Christian submits to an arduous moral discipline for the love of God. But it is impossible to love an abstraction. One will sacrifice oneself for one's family or friends, for one's leader, for one's country or for God, but not for an idea. The martyrs who died for Christ would not have given their lives for the natural law. An abstraction does not become a motivating force unless it contains a religious element. This is why Christian morality is incomparably more powerful than lay morality. Thus man will never enthusiastically obey the laws of rational conduct unless he considers the laws of life as the commands of a personal God. Unfortunately, most modern men are incapable of acting for the love of their neighbors, of their country or of God for the only thing they love is themselves.
The love of oneself can also be a force. Its corollary is fear and fear, like love, engenders action. Perhaps it will be fear which will make civilized men rationalize their behavior. At certain moments, the only people who are not afraid are madmen. No epoch of history has ever been so terrifying. Never have greater cataclysms been unleashed. For many years the knell has been tolling behind the threatening clouds on the horizon but we have deliberately shut our ears. Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. Then wars break out and the face of the world changes. The hour of chaos is approaching. Nevertheless, we must try at all costs to save ourselves and our children from the indescribable sufferings which accompany the agony of nations. If we are to avoid these otherwise inevitable catastrophes, we must recover our ancient strength. Perhaps fear will bring us the necessary wisdom to recover it by submitting humbly to the laws of life.
If it were intelligent, egoism might, like love or fear, induce us to behave more reasonably for nothing is more personally advantageous than to obey the natural law. Egoism is nothing more than an exaggeration or perversion of life's tendency to preserve itself. In its usual aspect it is a vice destructive to the community but in its less crude form it is a virtue. If we were completely lacking in egoism, we should be incapable of living. This natural egoism impels man to an untiring search for his material or spiritual profit; it is a necessary tendency which displays itself in the saint as well as the gangster. The pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of what is advantageous to health, freedom and beauty. And these goods are precisely those which we find through obedience to the laws of our nature. Unfortunately, the benefits of this obedience are not immediately obvious. They only manifest themselves slowly in the course of the life of the individual and the race. Generally speaking, egoism is not intelligent enough to distinguish the pleasurable from the useful, the real need from the artificial, the passing good from the permanent. It does not realize that rational behavior will bring us all the happiness compatible with our human state. As Socrates taught, duty is interwoven with pleasure and profit. It is to our own interest to observe the rules derived from natural laws. The moment has come when we must either accept decline and death or we must overthrow all the obstacles which oppose our revival.