Every individual who behaves in a rational way gradually undergoes a profound transformation. When body and spirit act as their constitution ordains, they become more efficient. This progress is marked, above all, by the development of character, moral sense, intuition, sense of the holy and capacity for love and self-sacrifice. Intelligence becomes more acute. When man understands that the aim of life is not material profit but life itself, he ceases to fix his attention exclusively on the external world. He considers more attentively his own existence and the existence of those around him. He realizes that he depends on others and that others depend on him; that, in the human race, male and female are mentally complementary just as their sexual organs are complementary; that the slow development of the young and their psychological frailty demand community life. Thus we perceive the artificiality of Rousseau's conventions, the absurdity of the social contract and the danger of individualism. We become aware of the necessity of considering others as much as ourselves in every circumstance of life.
There is an obvious antagonism between the egoism indispensable to individual survival and the altruism demanded by social life. The organism is formed and grows at the expense of its environment and of other human beings. During its life in the womb, it is a parasite on its mother; until it becomes adult, it is a parasite on the family and on the community. It thus becomes accustomed to consider the exploitation of everything about it to its own profit as a right. The success of individualism comes from this innate tendency to egoism which characterizes every living being. On the other hand, egoism carried to excess makes any authentic community impossible. Altruism, therefore, is quite as necessary as egoism. Between these two opposing tendencies, I and We, a balance must be achieved; a balance which is indispensable to the success of our personal life. In the same way the precision of the movements of the hand come from the antagonism between the extensor and the flexor muscles of the fingers. "I" is transformed into "We" in many different ways.
The capacity for union varies in different individuals. It depends on our inherited potentialities and, above all, on the education and the mental climate of the country and the age in which we live. It is almost nonexistent in the modern Frenchman; much greater in the German and the American. In the first centuries of the Church, at the time of the persecutions, Christian communities constituted real fraternities. They were governed by mutual love and tie union thus realized was indestructible and continued beyond death. Nowadays, a Catholic parish is no more than a group of people associated because of their similarity but in no way bound together by love. The capacity for union comes from the capacity to understand and to feel. The field of force which surrounds each individual can be either small or great. "We" has more or less cohesion according to the relation it implies between "I" and "Thou." "To Thee," "With Thee" and "For Thee" express quite different attitudes to one's neighbor. Materialistic Liberalism, individualism and biological morality are incapable of making progress from solidarity to love. Only by putting into practice the rules of conduct deduced from the laws of life can man increase his capacity for union with other men and establish the sharing of his own consciousness with the consciousness of others on the basis of love.
It is, above all, on his capacity for union with others that the social value of the individual depends. The discord which reigns in the family and in every aspect of our French national life comes from our ignorance of the basic necessities of communal living and our impotence to supply them. To build a house we need not only solid stones, properly shaped and adapted to each other, but also cement. Obedience to the laws of life prevents the excesses of individualism which incessantly set man against man. It represses egoism, jealousy, lying and duplicity and shows the danger of bad manners, touchiness, bad temper and lack of consideration for other people's feelings. It eliminates the personal asperities and vices which militate against the cohesion of the group and tends to unite us to each other by courtesy, generosity, kindness, love and unselfishness. Every individual who thoroughly understands the needs of our nature realizes that his personal happiness and the happiness of his children depend on his capacity to conform to the order of things. Certainly we must know how to fight.
Hitherto, fighting has been a condition of life, but war inevitably engenders war. We must also know how to forgive our enemies, unite ourselves to them and love them.