Wednesday, November 2, 2016

On Peace and Personal Dignity

By Jacques Maritain

WE all know that, if peace is to be prepared in the thoughts of men and in the minds of the nations, it can only be done if those minds come to a profound conviction of principles such as the following: that a good policy is first and foremost a just policy; that every nation must endeavour to understand the psychology, development and traditions, the material and spiritual needs, the personal dignity and historic vocation of other peoples, because each nation must keep in mind not only its own interests, but the common good of the family of nations; that this awakening of mutual understanding and of the consciousness of the civilized community, though it requires a sort of spiritual revolution, in view, alas, of the age-old habits of human history, is a necessity for public welfare in a world which henceforth is one for life or death, though remaining tragically divided as regards political interests and passions; that to place national interests above all is the surest way of losing all; that a community of free men is inconceivable without the recognition by it that truth is the expression of what is right and just and not of what, at any given moment, is most advantageous to a group of men; that it is not possible to put an innocent man to death because he has become a useless and costly burden to the nation or because he obstructs the activities of a particular group; that a human being has a dignity and which, in its own interests, it must respect, and that as a human being, as a civic being, as a social or working being, he has fundamental rights and duties; that the common weal must take precedence over industrial interests, that the working world is entitled to undergo the social changes demanded by the fact that it has come of age historically, and that the masses are entitled to their share of the benefits of culture and of the intellect, that freedom of conscience is inviolable; that men of different creeds and different spiritual associations must recognize mutually their rights as fellow-citizens in the civilized community; that, for the common good, it is the duty of the State to respect religious liberty and freedom of research; that because of the essential equality of men, racial, class or caste prejudices and racial discrimination are an affront to human nature and to personal dignity and are a crucial threat to peace.

Source: Christianity and Democracy, and The Rights of Man and Natural Law

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