The maintenance of children and their physical and mental formation depend both on the family and on the milieu which surrounds it. The constituting of this milieu is society's most important task. The success of any society demands above all the cooperation and unity of its members. The conduct of each one of us should be ordered to the end of realizing this cooperation and unity.
Antisocial vices have spread in France in the most baleful way. They raise barriers between individuals and make it impossible for the community to survive. Envy and pride have caused just as disastrous divisions between peasants, workers and artisans as between generals, politicians, professors and scientists. Jealousy is responsible for the barrenness of our institutions because, by preventing the rise of the best men, it has put a premium on mediocrity. It is due to jealousy that, in all domains, men who were capable of becoming leaders and of organizing their nation have been eliminated. The inhabitants of one village, one town, one province, one state are jointly responsible for each other. Nevertheless, as a principle of conduct, joint responsibility has completely failed.
Nothing is more urgent than to put an end to this division. For a society to be prosperous, its members must be united to one another like the stones of a wall. But what cement will join men together in such a manner? The only cement firm enough is love, the love one sometimes finds existing between the members of one family but not extending to strangers. To love someone, said Aristotle, is to wish him well. It is strange that up to now humanity has refused to understand that to wish well to others is indispensable to the success of collective existence. Yet it knows that love of our neighbor and even of our enemy, forgiveness and charity are the essential basis of moral life. It is nearly two thousand years since it first learned these things. Those rare individuals who obey the Gospel commandment sometimes attract the respect of others, but in general they are considered fools or visionaries. No one realizes that this law of love constitutes the essential principle of the prosperity of human groups and the very condition of their survival.
Why then is a precept so undoubtedly true not applied? Probably it has remained inapplicable because we have never tried to make it possible to apply it The precept of loving one's neighbor has a double aspect- Explicitly, it commands everyone to love others but, implicitly, it also commands everyone to make themselves worthy of being loved. It is beyond human powers to love the average product of industrial civilization; that is to say, an individual who is selfish, coarse, proud, lazy, envious, intemperate, ill-natured and lubricous. Mutual love will remain a Utopian ideal until we make an effort to give up the habits which render us odious to other people. It is not by elaborating new ideologies or by reforming our political institutions that we shall build a better society. What we must do is to reform our own selves and free ourselves from those vices which separate us from one another. Then it will be possible for neighbor to love neighbor; for workmen to love their employers and employers to love their workmen. Love alone is capable of installing in human societies the order which instinct has established for millions of years among the communities of ants and bees.