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  • BETHINK YOURSELVES - Chapter 4
    sad reflection on how many lives are expended for the perpetuation of the power of evil on earth and how this evil is promoted most of all by permanent armies Our astonishment and feeling of sadness increase when we consider that this is all unnecessary and that this evil complacently accepted by the immense majority of men comes about merely through their stupidity in allowing a comparatively small number of agile and perverted people to exploit them Patrice Larroque Ask a soldier a private a corporal or a noncommissioned officer who has abandoned his old parents his wife and children why he is preparing to kill men he does not know and he will at first be surprised at your question He is a soldier has taken the oath and must fulfill the orders of his commanders If you tell him that war the slaughter of men does not conform to the command Thou shalt not kill he will say But what if our people are attacked and For the Czar and the Orthodox Faith In answer to my question one of them said But what if he attacks what is sacred What do you mean I asked Why said he the flag If you try to explain to such a soldier that God s command is more important than the flag or more important than anything in the world he will become silent or will get angry and report you to the authorities Ask an officer or a general why he goes to the war He will tell you that he is a military man and that military men are indispensable for the defense of the Fatherland It does not trouble him that murder is not in agreement with the spirit of the Christian law because he either does not believe in that law or if he does he does not believe in that law itself but in some explanation that has been given of it Above all like the soldier he always asks a general question about the State or the Fatherland instead of the personal question regarding what he himself should do At the present time when the Fatherland is in danger one must act and not argue he will say Ask the diplomats who prepare wars by their deceptions why they do it They will tell you that the object of their activity is the establishment of peace among nations and that this object is attained not by ideal unrealizable theories but by diplomatic activity and by being prepared for war And just as military men ask a general question instead of a personal one affecting their own lives so the diplomats will speak of the interests of Russia of the perfidy of other Powers or of the balance of power in Europe instead of about their own lives and activities Ask journalists why they incite men to war by their writings They will say that in general wars are necessary and useful especially the present

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  • BETHINK YOURSELVES - Chapter 5
    They had probably not read Joseph de Maistre I advise the wounded to read him between two dressings and they will learn that war is as necessary as the executioner because like him it is a manifestation of the justice of God This great thought may serve them as consolation while the surgeons are sawing their bones Hardouin In the Russian News I read the opinion that Russia s advantage lies in her inexhaustible store of human material For children whose father is killed for a wife whose husband is killed for a mother whose son is killed this material is quickly exhausted From a private letter from a Russian mother March 1904 You ask whether war is still necessary between civilized nations I reply that not only is it no longer necessary but that it never has been necessary It has always violated the historical development of humanity infringed human rights and hindered progress If some of the consequences of war have been advantageous to civilization in general its harmful consequences have been much greater We are misled because only a part of these harmful consequences is immediately apparent The greater part and the most important we do not notice So we must not accept the word still Its acceptance gives the advocates of war the opportunity to assert that the difference between them and us is only one of temporary expediency or personal appraisal and our disagreement is then reduced to the fact that we consider war to be useless while they consider it still useful They readily concede that it may become unnecessary and even harmful but only tomorrow and not today Today they consider it necessary to perform on people these terrible blood lettings which are called wars and which are made only to satisfy the personal ambitions of a very small minority to ensure power honors and riches to a small number of men to the detriment of the masses whose natural credulity and superstitions these men exploit together with the prejudices created and upheld by them Capitaine Gaston Mock Men of our Christian world in our time are like a man who has missed the right turning and becomes more and more convinced the farther he goes that he is going the wrong way Yet the greater his doubts the quicker and more desperately does he hurry on consoling himself with the thought that he must arrive somewhere But the time comes when it is quite clear that the way along which he is going leads only to a precipice which he begins to discern before him That is where Christian humanity stands in our time We are presently guided in our private lives and in the lives of our separate states solely by desire for personal welfare for ourselves or our states and we think to ensure this welfare by violence It is quite evident that if we continue to live as we are doing then the means for violence of man against

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  • BETHINK YOURSELVES - Chapter 6
    last a while Notwithstanding the words of a sophist which I have elsewhere controverted it is not true that war even against the foreigner is divine It is not true that the earth is thirsting for blood War is accursed of God and even those men who make it have a secret horror of it The earth cries to heaven praying for fresh water in its rivers and for the pure dew of its clouds Alfred de Vigny Men are easily coerced and made to obey and mutually deprave one another by those two habits Here stultification there insolence nowhere true human dignity V P Considerant If my soldiers were to begin to think not one of them would remain in the army Frederick the Great Two thousand years ago John the Baptist and after him Jesus said to the people The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand Bethink yourselves μετανο ω and believe in the Gospel Mark 1 15 And if you do not bethink yourselves you will all perish Luke 13 5 But men did not listen and the destruction foretold is already near at hand as men of our time cannot but see We are already perishing and therefore we cannot close our ears to that means of salvation given of old but new to us We cannot but see that besides all the other calamities that flow from our evil and irrational life military preparations alone and the wars resulting from them must inevitably destroy us We cannot but see that all the practical means devised for escape from these evils are and must be ineffectual and that the disastrous plight of nations arming themselves one against another must continually become worse Therefore the words of Jesus apply to us and to our time more than to anyone else or to any other time He said Bethink yourselves that is let every man interrupt his work and ask himself Who am I From where have I come And what is my vocation Having answered these questions let him decide according to the answer whether what he does is in accord with his vocation It is only necessary for each man of our world and time each man acquainted with the essence of the Christian teaching to interrupt his activity for a minute to forget what people consider him to be emperor soldier minister or journalist and to seriously ask himself who he is and what is his vocation and he will at once doubt the utility rightfulness and reasonableness of his activity Before I am emperor soldier minister or journalist every man of our Christian world should say to himself before all else I am a man I am an organic being sent by a higher will into a universe endless in time and space where after staying in it for an instant I shall die and disappear from it Therefore all those personal social or even universal human aims which

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  • BETHINK YOURSELVES - Chapter 7
    phylacteries the Christian his cross and the Muslim his crescent but let them all remember that these are forms and emblems while the practical essence is You shall love your neighbor as yourself This is equally emphasized and accentuated by Manu Zoroaster Buddha Abraham Moses Socrates Hillel Jesus Paul and Mohammed Maurice Fleugel No true society can exist without a common faith and common purpose Political activity is their application and religion supplies their principle The will of the majority rules where this common faith is lacking showing itself in constant instability and the oppression of others It is possible to coerce without God but not to persuade Without God the majority will be a tyrant but not an educator of the people What we need what the people need and what the age is crying for that it may find an issue from the slough of selfishness doubt and negation in which it is submerged is faith in which our souls ceasing to wander in search of individual ends can march together in consciousness of one origin one law and one goal Every strong faith that arises on the ruins of old and outlived beliefs changes the existing social order for every strong faith inevitably influences all departments of human activity In different forms and different degrees humanity repeats the words of the Lord s Prayer Thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven Mazzini A man may regard himself as an animal among animals living for the passing day or he may consider himself as a member of a family a society or a nation living for centuries or he may and even must for reason irresistibly prompts him to this consider himself as part of the whole infinite universe existing eternally And therefore a reasonable man besides his relation to the immediate facts of life must always set up his relation to the whole immense Infinite in time and space conceived as one whole And such establishment of man s relation to that whole of which he feels himself to be a part and from which he draws guidance for his actions is what has been called and is called religion And therefore religion always has been and cannot cease to be a necessary and indispensable condition of the life of a reasonable man and of all reasonable humanity Leo Tolstoy What is Religion Religion regarded objectively is the recognition of all our duties as the commands of God There is only one true religion though there may be various faiths Kant The evil from which men of our time are suffering comes from the fact that the majority of them live without what alone affords a rational guidance for human activity namely religion This is not a religion that consists in a belief in dogmas or the fulfillment of rites affording a pleasant diversion consolation or stimulation but a religion that establishes the relation of man to the All to God Such a religion therefore gives

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  • BETHINK YOURSELVES - Chapter 8
    of human history guided by God Amiel Fragments d un journal intimé I recognize the following proposition as needing no proof all by which man thinks he can please God save a good life is merely religious error and superstition Kant In reality there is only one means of worshipping God it is by the fulfillment of one s duties and by acting in accord with the laws of reason G C Lichtenberg But in order to abolish the evil from which we are suffering those who are preoccupied by various practical activities will say it would be necessary not for a few men only but for all men to bethink themselves and having done so to understand the vocation of their lives to lie in the fulfillment of the will of God and the service of their neighbor Is that possible Not only is it possible I reply but it is impossible that it should not be so It is impossible for men not to bethink themselves impossible that is for each man not to put to himself the questions of who he is and why he lives Man as a rational being cannot live without a knowledge of why he lives and has always put that question to himself And according to the degree of his development he has always answered it in his religious teaching In our time the inner contradiction in which men feel themselves to be presents this question with particular insistence and demands an answer It is impossible for men of our time to answer this question otherwise than by recognizing the law of life to lie in loving others and being in their service This is the only rational answer as to the meaning of human life this answer was expressed nineteen hundred years ago in the Christian religion and it is known in the same way to the great majority of all mankind This answer lives in a latent state in the consciousness of all people of the Christian world of our time There are only two reasons why it does not openly express itself and serve as guidance for our lives On the one hand those who enjoy the greatest authority the so called scientists being under the coarse delusion that religion is a temporary stage in the development of mankind which they have outgrown and under the delusion that men can live without religion impress this error on those of the masses who are beginning to be educated On the other hand those in power consciously or unconsciously being themselves under the delusion that the Church faith is the Christian religion try to support and promote in people the crude superstitions that are given out as the Christian religion If only these two deceptions were destroyed true religion which is already latent in people of our time would become evident and obligatory To bring this about it is necessary that on the one hand men of science should understand that

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  • BETHINK YOURSELVES - Chapter 9
    or to bear arms Also considering it a sin to surrender his will into the power of others who might demand evil actions of him he refused to take the oath Men whose lives are founded on violence and murder condemned him first to one year s solitary confinement in Khárkov but later he was transferred to the Vorónezh penal battalion where for fifteen months he was tortured by cold hunger and solitary confinement Finally when consumption developed from his incessant sufferings and privations and he was recognized as unfit for military service he was transferred to the civil prison where he was to remain confined for another nine years But while being transferred from the penal battalion to the prison on an extremely frosty day the police officials neglected to furnish him with a warm coat The party remained for a long time in the street in front of the police station and this caused him to catch such a cold that pneumonia set in from which he died twenty two days later The day before his death Drozhín said to the doctor Though I have not lived long I die with a consciousness of having acted in accord with my convictions and my conscience Others of course may judge about this better than I can Perhaps No I think that I am right he concluded The Life and Death of Drozhín Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil s schemes For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers against the authorities against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything to stand Stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist with the breastplate of righteousness in place Ephesians 6 11 14 But I shall be asked How are we to act now immediately among ourselves in Russia at this moment when our foes are already attacking us killing our people and threatening us How is a Russian soldier officer general Czar or private individual to act Are we really to let our enemies ruin our dominions seize the products of our labor carry off prisoners and kill our men What are we to do now that this thing has begun But before the work of war began every man who has reflected should reply before all else the work of my life had begun The work of my life has nothing to do with recognition of the rights of the Chinese Japanese or Russians to Port Arthur The work of my life consists in fulfilling the will of Him who sent me into this life And that will is known to me That will is that I should love my

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  • BETHINK YOURSELVES - Chapter 10
    you about God do not think that I am speaking to you about some object made of gold or silver The God of whom I speak you feel in your soul You bear Him in yourself and by your impure thoughts and loathsome acts you defile His image in your soul You refrain from doing anything that is unseemly in the presence of a golden idol which you regard as God but in the presence of that God who sees and hears all that is within you you do not even blush when you yield yourself to your disgusting thoughts and actions If only we remembered that God in us is the witness of all that we do and think we should cease to sin and God would constantly abide in us Let us then remember God and think and talk of Him as often as possible Epictetus But how about the enemies who are attacking us Love your enemies and you will have none is said in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles And this answer is not mere words as those may imagine who are accustomed to think that the injunction to love one s enemies is something rhetorical and signifies not what it says but something else It is the indication of a very clear and definite activity and of its consequences To love one s enemies the Japanese the Chinese those yellow people towards whom erring men are now trying to excite our hatred to love them does not mean to kill them in order to have a right to poison them with opium as was done by the English 6 or to kill them in order to seize their land as was done by the French the Russians and the Germans or to bury them alive as punishment for injuring roads or to tie them together by their hair and drown them in the Amur as the Russians did A disciple is not above his master It is enough for a disciple that he is as his master To love the yellow people whom we call our foes does not mean teaching them under the name of Christianity absurd superstitions about the fall of man redemption resurrection and so on It does not mean teaching them the art of deceiving and killing people but teaching them justice unselfishness compassion and love and that not in words but by the example of our own good lives But what have we done and are we doing to them If we did indeed love our enemies if even now we began to love our enemies the Japanese we should have no enemy So strange as it may appear to people occupied with military plans and preparations diplomatic considerations administrative financial and economic measures revolutionary and socialistic sermons and various unnecessary sciences by which they think to free mankind from its calamities The delivery of man not only from the calamities of war but from all his self inflicted

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  • BETHINK YOURSELVES - Chapter 11
    Kuropátkin say in so many words as Dibitch did that not more than fifty thousand lives will be needed for this on the Russian side alone and only that But they think it and cannot but think it because what they are doing speaks for itself Those unfortunate and deluded Russian peasants now being transported by the thousand in an unceasing flow to the Far East are those same not more than fifty thousand living Russians whom Nicholas Románov and Alexéy Kuropátkin have decided to sacrifice They will be killed in support of those stupidities robberies and nastinesses of all kinds that were being committed in China and Korea by immoral ambitious men now quietly sitting in their palaces and awaiting fresh glory and fresh advantage and profit from the slaughter of those fifty thousand unfortunate defrauded Russian working men who are guilty of nothing and gain nothing by their sufferings and death Enormous sums are spent to take other people s land to which the Russians have no right which has been stolen from its legitimate owners and which in reality the Russians do not need as well as for certain shady dealings undertaken by speculators who wished to profit from other people s forests in Korea This spent money represents a great part of the labor of the whole Russian people while future generations of that people are being bound by debts its best workmen are being withdrawn from labor and scores of thousands of its sons are being mercilessly doomed to death And the destruction of these unfortunate men has already begun More than this those who have hatched the war manage it so badly and carelessly and all is so unexpected and unprepared that as one paper remarks Russia s chief chance of success lies in the fact that it has inexhaustible human material Those who send scores of thousands of Russian men to their deaths rely on this It is plainly said that the regrettable reverses of our fleet must be compensated for on land In plain language this means that if the authorities have managed things badly on sea and by their carelessness have wasted not only the nation s riches but thousands of lives we must make up for this by condemning to death several more scores of thousands on land Crawling locusts cross rivers in this way The lower layers are drowned until the bodies of the drowned form a bridge over which those above can pass This is how the Russian people are now disposed of The first lower layer is already beginning to drown showing the way for other thousands who will likewise perish And do the originators the instigators and directors of this dreadful business begin to understand their sin and their crime Not in the least They are fully persuaded that they have fulfilled and are fulfilling their duty and they are proud of their activity They talk of the loss of the brave Makárov who as all

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