Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 8. 1965.
To Change The World Change Yourself—M.R.A
To Change The World Change Yourself—M.R.A.
As long ago as June, 1953, Radio Moscow evaluated Moral Re-Armament as "a global ideology with bridgeheads in every nation in its final phase of total expansion throughout the world ... it substitutes for the inevitable class war the eternal struggle between good and evil."
Quite recently "Isvestia" carried an article saying, "Many citizens talk about equality and brotherhood but hate their comrades living next door. What the Soviet Union needs today is a movement like the one called Moral ReArmament in the West."
It is an accurate assessment.
The objective of Moral Re-Armament is quite simple—to create a world where all men, whatever their race, colour, faith or nationality, can live without Tear, in freedom, with adequate food, housing and education. It is clear that these objectives will never be reached without a revolution in the character of man.
It is to Khrushchev's credit that he still hoped that the new type of man would emerge in Russia. The evidence of nearly 50 years of Communist experiment in that country is that a totalitarian revolution built on the bitter reactions of men to evil conditions around them does not change the nature of man.
The evidence of the work of Moral Re-Armament in the last 27 years is that world history can be changed through change in the character of men.
Anyone who thinks, knows that a concept of the world which does not include every person whether they live in Hanoi, Saigon, Washington. Wellington or Peking is too small and dangerous for this age. Moral Re-Armament is for anyone and everyone from capitalist to Communist who will pay the price of building a world that works by deciding to change themselves.
Mr. K. E. Beazley, Federal MP for Fremantle, Australia, speaking on June 3 in the Memorial Theatre, said: "I think if we are to have a sane world you must have an ideology which goes deep enough to answer race hate. It is my personal belief that that ideology is Moral Re-Armament. An ideology which answers race hate and class hate is essential in my view for a sane world because race war or class war will in my view, lead to nuclear war.
Moral Re-Armament is financed from the conviction of people. There is no mystery about it. People who attack it often infer that it is financed by big business. Actually very few people connected with big business help to finance it. Most of the finance comes from very ordinary people. H.B.R. in his Salient article refers to the visit of the MRA force to Mt. Isa.
This was in fact initiated by a young New Zealand accountant who, on his own initiative, sold his shores (£400 worth) in the Mt. Isa Mining Company to start a fund to get the MRA force there.
This article, in reply to that in Salient 6, is by Mr. R. K. Pearce, chairman of the MRA conference held recently in Wanganui.
The MRA force with the play "We Are Tomorrow" was invited to Mt. Isa by the Shire Council. The cast of the play and others with them met and talked with all sections of the community. The play was performed to full houses. The mine manager came to the play. The disputes committee which organised the strike voted unanimously that all members attend the play.
Later, on the invitation of Pat Mackle, the cast took an MRA film called "Men of Brazil" to show to the disputes committee. Weeks later a trade union secretary evaluated the impact of the play in these words: "The main thing is the bitterness and distrust are by no means so prevalent as before."
The statement quoted by H.B.R. from a memorandum of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has long ago aroused vigorous protests from trade unionists in many countries. A report was prepared by a member of the I.C.F.T.U. staff and was circulated. It was not voted on by the Executive nor was it put forward to the Congress floor for discussion.
It quoted nine extracts from MRA publications in support of its allegations. Of these seven were gross distortions from the original. In their original state they did not bear out the charges made in the report. It is also very difficult to align these charges with the fact that labour leaders of the reputation of Ben Tillet, Evert Kupers, Philip Murray, William Green, Abid All and Renzo Yanagisawa, to mention only a few, have publicly endorsed MRA.
The smear of Frank Buchman's alleged statement about Hitler cannot stand beside the fact of the Gestapo instructions to the Nazi Military Authorities to destroy Moral Re-Armament wherever they found it. In a 126-page report discovered in France by the advancing Allied armies the Gestapo say that Moral Re-Armament "frontally opposes the Swastika with the Cross of Christ," that it had become their "avowed antagonist" and was "lending the Christian garment to world democratic alms."
The fact is that Buchman spent his life and energy answering the materialism in men which inevitably in the end issues in the cruelty of totalitarian governments—whether they be fascist or communist.
H.B.R. also quotes a report which is inferred to indicate a critical attitude to MRA by the Church of England. It is true that a report was presented to the Church Assembly by the Social and Industrial Council. At the time that the Assembly 'received' the report the then Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr. Fisher, observed in relation to it that "to receive a report does not mean that the Assembly approves of it." The Assembly did, in fact, pass a motion saying it "does not desire to record any Judgments either upon the merits or the demerits of this particular movement." It is also a fact that many prominent Anglicans have expressed their wholehearted support for the work of Moral Re-Armament.
Youth and students in every part of the free world are being gripped by Moral Re-Armament. In India this programme is being led by Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. It is a little more than two years since he returned to India determined to tackle the corruption in his nation and to make it a strong, clean, united nation which, through the consent of its people, would create a more dynamic society than that created by the coercion of Communism in China. They have succeeded in making corruption a national issue. The Government has set up committees to deal with it.
In 1953 63 per cent of India's taxes were not paid and the head of the railways said more than £2,000,000 of unpaid fares were discovered.
Gandhi has enlisted a force of students to deal with this very serious problem in a realistic way. Last year 1600 students were trained in how to take Moral ReArmament to the country. They have ended corruption in their own lives in simple matters like cheating in exams and not paying bus and rail fares. They have moved from the realm of pious intention to practical action by being honest about cheating and paving back the accumulated unpaid fares. They now have the authority and the conviction to tackle the leadership of their country.
In April the Speaker of the Indian Parliament arranged a meeting of Members of Parliament and distinguished Delhi citizens to hear some of the students that Gandhi had trained. They told how they had conducted seven training camps and had produced nine plays in four languages. They expressed their determination to create a new society on Indian soil. After hearing them the Speaker stated: "Moral Re-Armament is restoring God into the lives of people and with it the sharp sense of right and wrong."
Rajmohan Gandhi is also Editorin-Chief of "Himmat," an Indian news magazine which now goes to 57 countries. His recent call in it for the inclusion of Australia and New Zealand at the Afro-Asian conference in Algiers was reported in the "Auckland Star."
He feels it is strange logic to exclude nations just because they happen to rate as white.
Much more could and should be made of the community of interest between India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. What happens in these nations can assuredly determine the future for all Asia. At a time when Communism is bidding for the mind and control of Asia, the success or failure of the new democracies in India and Japan could be critical. Gandhi is determined that democracy shall thrive and prove equal to the tremendous problems facing it in India.
What of Japan?
Masahide Shibusawa is leading a force of revolutionary youth in Japan. They have moved far past the pointless reaction of protest, be it by riot, squatting or silent vigil, to the point where they actively set about putting things right. They realised that the most reactionary man in the world is he who wants the world to change but is determined not to change himself.
This fact is fundamental to Moral Re-Armament and applies with equal force to those of the left and those of the right.
In the last two and a half years five stage plays have been produced in Japan to carry the idea of Moral Re-Armament to the notion. Last month Shibusawa announced that "Tomorrow will be Too Late" had been invited to Korea. This play was written by a former Communist student, Tsukasa Kimoto. Speaking after a performance of the play at his own university in Hokkiado, Kimoto said: "As you all know, I was a Communist until two months ago, ready to give my life for violent revolution, but I found a greater revolution in MRA. I cleaned up my life and I am going to fight for a new student movement which can give an answer to the world."
Mr. Peter Howard, the late world leader of Moral Re-Armament was invited to speak by the student executives of 73 American and Canadian universities and colleges. He says: "We live in an age for heroes. No time has ever offered man such perils or such prizes. Man can either provide a full life for humanity, or destroy himself with the problems he has created. The test of this century will prove to be whether man matches the growth of wealth and power with the growth of spirit and character—or whether, like an infant, heedlessly playing with terrible toys, he destroys the house he would have inherited."
New Zealand has a vital role to play today. At some point some nation has got to show a spirit in its society which men across the world will recognise as the cure to hate of class or race, to the selfishness which means hunger in a world of plenty, to the thoughtless lack of care which means millions are born without hope when that need not be so. A society founded on self-interest, even the so-called "enlightened" variety is not going to do this.
A society which accepts absolute moral standards as the norms for human conduct and which seeks the direction of God in its affairs will. This is New Zealand's task. You, students and any others who have the audacity and sanity to believe that the future can be different from the past should take the lead in it.