If you’d live a religion that’s noble,
That’s God-like and true,
A religion the grandest that men
Or that angels can,
Then live, live the truth
Of the brother who taught you,
It’s love to God, service and love
To the fellow-man.
Social problems are to be among the greatest problems of the generation just moving on to the stage of action. They, above all others, will claim the attention of mankind, as they are already claiming it across the waters even as at home. The attitude of the two classes toward each other, or the separation of the classes, will be by far the chief problem of them all. Already it is imperatively demanding a solution. Gradually, as the years have passed, this separation has been going on, but never so rapidly as of late. Each has come to regard the other as an enemy, with no interests in common, but rather that what is for the interests of the one must necessarily be to the detriment of the other.
The great masses of the people, the working classes, those who as much, if not more than many others ought to be there, are not in our churches to-day. They already feel that they are not wanted there, and that the Church even is getting to be their enemy. There must be a reason for this, for it is impossible to have an effect without its preceding cause. It is indeed time to waken up to these facts and conditions; for they must be _squarely_ met. A solution is imperatively demanded, and the sooner it comes, the better; for, if allowed to continue thus, all will come back to be paid for, intensified a thousand-fold,–ay, to be paid for even by many innocent ones.
Let this great principle of service, helpfulness, love, and self-devotion to the interests of one’s fellow-men be made the fundamental principle of all lives, and see how simplified these great and all-important questions will become. Indeed, they will almost solve themselves. It is the man all for self, so small and so short sighted that he can’t get beyond his own selfish interests, that has done more to bring about this state of affairs than all other causes combined. Let the cause be removed, and then note the results.
For many years it has been a teaching even of political economy that an employer buys his help just as he buys his raw material or any other commodity; and this done, he is in no way responsible for the welfare of those he employs. In fact, the time isn’t so far distant when the employed were herded together as animals, and were treated very much as such. But, thanks be to God, a better and a brighter day is dawning. Even the employer is beginning to see that practical ethics, or true Christianity, and business cannot and must not be divorced; that the man he employs, instead of being a mere animal whose services he buys, is, after all his fellow-man and his brother, and demands a treatment as such, and that when he fails to recognize this truth, a righteous God steps in, demanding a penalty for its violation.
He is recognizing the fact that whatsoever is for the well-being of the one he employs, that whatever privileges he is enabled to enjoy that will tend to grow and develop his physical, his mental, and his moral life, that will give him an agreeable home and pleasant family relations, that whatever influences tend to elevate him and to make his life more happy, are a direct gain, even from a financial standpoint for himself, by its increasing for him the efficiency of the man’s labor. It is already recognized as a fact that the employer who interests himself in these things, other things being equal, is the most successful. Thus the old and the false are breaking away before the right and the true, as all inevitably must sooner or later; and the divinity and the power of the workingman is being ever more fully recognized.
In the very remote history of the race there was one who, violating a great law, having wronged a brother, asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Knowing that he was, he nevertheless deceitfully put the question in this way in his desire, if possible, to avoid the responsibility. Many employers in their selfishness and greed for gain have asked this same question in this same way. They have thought they could thus defeat the sure and eternal laws of a Just Ruler, but have thereby deceived themselves the more. These more than any others have to a great degree brought about the present state of affairs in the industrial and social world.
Just as soon as the employer recognizes the falsity of these old teachings and practices, and the fact that he cannot buy his employee’s services the same as he buys his raw material, with no further responsibility, but that the two are on vastly different planes, that his employee is his fellow-man and his brother, and that he is his brother’s keeper, and will be held responsible as such, that it is to his own highest interests, as well as to the highest interests of those he employs and to society in general, to recognize this; and just as soon as he who is employed fully appreciates his opportunities and makes the highest use of all, and in turn takes an active, personal interest in all that pertains to his employer’s welfare,–just that soon will a solution of this great question come forth, and no sooner.