Through its own fault, civilized humanity has brought an immense catastrophe upon itself. War resolves none of the fundamental human problems; all that it does is to establish the supremacy of one nation over others. In the chaos which follows the end of hostilities, these problems pose themselves afresh. It is only on ourselves that we can count for their solution.
Our future depends on our aptitude to behave ourselves rationally. It depends, above all, on our will to follow the rules of our existence strictly. The crisis of humanity is the result of its absurd conduct. Hitherto, no society has conducted itself in a natural fashion for spirit has not been capable of replacing instinct.
No civilization has succeeded in giving man rules of conduct completely conformed to his structure and an environment perfectly adapted to it. The Roman Empire crumbled; the splendor of the age of the cathedrals has vanished and we are assisting at the death agony of the society which began so hopefully with the Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution. At the dawn of that society, liberty, 194 the reign of science and the industrial revolution seemed as if they must give unlimited happiness to the human race.
The fact is that human life is not a success. One might say that it has run into an impasse as at the time when creative evolution produced the dinosaurs, those gigantic beasts with small heads who were incapable of adapting themselves. The intellect, divorced from feeling by its egotistical development, is a monstrosity which seems as if it may render man incapable of surviving. This is the disruption of life, the war which destroys the fittest. The means of destruction are progressing faster than the means of helping life. We have arrived at this singular moment of human history where we must either succeed or sink to our ruin in chaos and degeneration.
The capital task of humanity is not production, art or science but the ensuring of the success of life itself. Humanity must realize that its fate lies in its own hands. An entirely new enterprise and a gigantic effort are now imposed on the world's inhabitants, an undertaking which should absorb the energy of all nations. What we have to do is nothing less than to reset the course of evolution toward a higher life. Now that man has substituted his own intelligence and will for the mystery of evolutionary forces, we must either rise higher or perish.
We can at least begin to distinguish through the mists of dawn the road which leads to our salvation. But how many of the mass of civilized people are capable of even perceiving this road? How many will have the courage to set out on it by an immediate personal effort; by a revolutionary change in their way of thinking, acting and behaving toward others which will only come about through self-mastery?
Civilization is first and foremost a discipline; a discipline which is physiological, moral and scientific. Barbarism, on the contrary, is essentially undisciplined. But whereas primitive barbarism was subject to the harsh authority of nature, our anemic modern barbarism is completely unrestrained.
The task which confronts us today is to take up the march of humanity at the point where, four hundred years ago, it strayed into an impasse and became engulfed in the material. In the new city, the spiritual and the material should be inseparable, although ruled by different laws. The rule of the road is the same for believers and unbelievers; the former think that the rules come from God Himself, the latter that they come from nature. Prayer gives believers an advantage over the rest. The only means of curing ourselves is to follow the laws of life.
By transforming ourselves we should become capable, even in the midst of suffering and disaster, of gradually transforming our environment and our institutions. Then at last we might be able to use the power of science to develop the inherited potentialities of our race in the best possible way and to build up, on the ruins of modern society, a world modeled on the true needs of human beings.