Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Fraternity
by [?]

So far as we can see it appears plain that the wish for brotherhood was on the whole reasonable, and its fulfilment easier than the wild desire for liberty and equality. No doubt Omar and Cromwell and Hoche and Dumouriez have chosen in their respective times an odd mode of spreading the blessings of fraternity. It is a little harsh to say to a man, “Be my brother or I will cut your head off;” but we fear that men of the stamp of Mahomet, Cromwell, and the French Jacobins were given to offering a choice of the alternatives named. Perhaps we may be safe if we take the roughness of the mere proselytizers as an evidence of defective education; they had a dim perception of a beautiful principle, but they knew of no instrument with which they could carry conviction save the sword. We, with our better light, can well understand that brotherhood should be fostered among men; we are all children of one Father, and it is fitting that we should reverently acknowledge the universal family tie. The Founder of our religion was the earliest preacher of the divine gospel of pity, and it is to Him that we owe the loveliest and purest conception of brotherhood. He claimed to be the Brother of us all; He showed how we should treat our brethren, and He carried His teaching on to the very close of His life.

So far from talking puerilities about equality, we should all see that there are degrees in our vast family; the elder and stronger brethren are bound to succour the younger and weaker; the young must look up to their elders; and the Father of all will perhaps preserve peace among us if we only forget our petty selves and look to Him. Alas, it is so hard to forget self! The dullest of us can see how excellent and divine is brotherhood, if we do assuredly carry out the conception of fraternity thoroughly; but again I say, How hard it is to banish self and follow the teaching of our divine Brother! If we cast our eyes over the world now, we may see–perhaps indistinctly–things that might make us weep, were it not that we must needs smile at the childish ways of men. In the very nation that first chose to put forward the word “fraternity” as one of the symbols for which men might die we see a strange spectacle. Half that nation is brooding incessantly on revenge; half the nation is bent only on slaying certain brother human beings who happen to live on the north and east of a certain river instead of on the south and west. The home of the solacing doctrine of fraternity is also the home of incessant preparations for murder, rapine, bitter and brutal vengeance. About a million of men rise every morning and spend the whole day in practising so that they may learn to kill people cleverly; hideous instruments, which must cause devastation, torture, bereavement, and wreck, should they ever be used in earnest, are lovingly handled by men who hope to see blood flow before long. The Frenchman cannot yet venture to smite his Teutonic brother, but he will do so when he has the chance; and thus two bands of brethren, who might have dwelt together amicably, may shortly end by inflicting untold agonies on each other. Both nations which so savagely await the beginning of a mad struggle are supposed to be followers of the Brother whose sweet message is read and repeated by nearly all the men who live on our continent, yet they only utter bitter words and think sullen thoughts, while the more acrid of the two adversaries is the country which once inscribed “Brotherhood” on its very banners. All round the arena wherein the two great peoples defy each other the nations wait anxiously for the delivery of the first stroke that shall give the signal for wrath and woe; and, strangely, no one can tell which of the onlookers is the more fervent professor of our Master’s faith. “Let brotherly love continue!”–that was the behest laid on us all; and we manifest our brotherly love by invoking the spirit of murder.