Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 12 (March 1, 1940)

Liberty Or—

page 34

Liberty Or

Free For All.

Freedom should be free to all in this terrestrial “free for all.” For centuries Man has been shedding, one by one, the enslaving links of Ignorance. Through blood, martyrdom and pain he has struggled towards enlightened liberation until, at last, he has achieved the privilege of utilising the nobler functions of his mind to the ends of charity and forbearance. This victory over his primeval barbarism, eked out of centuries of painful evolution is one of the few achievements to which he can point and say: “It is mine, honestly and painstakingly earned, and no man shall easily cheat me of it.”

The one property for the preservation of which progressive man is prepared to barter his life is his Liberty.

It may be a liberty qualified by beneficent expediency because, as yet, he has not reached that stage of spiritual perfection which alone could qualify him for the almost divine responsibility of complete liberty.

The right to Right.

But, even at this stage, he has earned the right to reason within himself, to exchange—without fear of persecution–the fruits of his meditation, and to claim the respect of his fellows as a cogent unit in the evolutionary machine; not merely the vassal of lesser men who seek to make him the victim of their despotic posturing.

The tragedy of Man's evolution, and the chief menace to his progress, lies in the ranks of the laggards—those who straggle in the rear of spiritual and intellectual progress, who have not yet emerged from the twilight of barbarism and resent the claim to liberty insisted on by their more enlightened fellows.

It is they who, in their egotistic ignorance, seek to reduce men to the level of their own barbaric limitations. It is they who would turn the advance of culture and civilised liberty to a rout towards serfdom.

Idealism In The Pit.

It is evident to normal intellects that it is futile to read a tract on peace to a tiger, and the time inevitably arrives in this struggle between Idealism, however groping, and brute materialism, when there is nothing left but brute force with which to resist the peril of brute force. Lamentable and cruel as the necessity is, the point is reached when civilisation must descend into the pit to destroy the forces of cruelty and evil. It was this thought which, at the outbreak of the present struggle, prompted me to write:—

No dream of conquest for the sake of gain,
No mad ambition in a cynic heart,
No scheming, plotting, for out-
rageous ends—
In these we have no part.
No hatred for a people who elect
To follow in the bloody steps of greed,

Reading a tract on peace to a tiger.

Reading a tract on peace to a tiger.

Who, led—perhaps reluctant—yet are made
The bitter fruit which springs from Hatred's seed.
No eye that covets other nation's wealth,
No hand outstretched to take what Law denies,
No overbearing lust for brutal power,
Whilst Freedom dies.
No, none of these we seek to gain with arms.
Reluctantly, yet using all our strength,
We enter on the monstrous field of War,
That we may serve the ends of Peace—at length.
One privilege, and one that true men prize,
In spite of War's attendant agony,
We seek to guard and hold—not
power or pomp—
But Liberty.
‘Tis better that we cease to breathe if breath
Demands the price of base indignity
And despots, with their hands
plunged deep in blood,
Take that which makes us men—

Our Liberty.

page 35

No Place For Complacency.

It is not so very long since the abolition of slavery, and the freedom enjoyed by progressive countries is not so very old, but liberty has come to be regarded, by the nature of its “usualness,” as an almost negative gift. We expect it and claim it as complacently as we claim the air we breathe and the sun that shines. And complacency is always dangerous. Throughout history it has been the forerunner of disaster, the breeder of smugness and lethargy, the sentinel who sleeps at his post. Complacency is an ingrate who sluggishly ignores the sacrifices which have made Liberty possible.

Liberty is the child of tears which yet privileges us to warm our minds in the sunlight of tranquillity. Liberty vouchsafes man the leisure to pursue the intangible verities of his being and to voice his conclusions without fear of the rubber truncheon or the headman's axe.

“Made In Germany.”

Compare it with the species of “liberation” conferred by the Nazi barbarians on Poland, the “protection” enforced on the Czechs under the sinister banner of the swastika. Compare Adolf Hitler and his bloodspatterd henchmen as the exemplification of Liberty as “made in Germany,” and realise that our liberty, at least, is not the liberty of the jungle or the freedom of fang and claw. The actions of modern despots compel us to review our estimate of the ancient ape man. He was more or less a gentleman. One of the most tragic aspects of traditional liberty is that the thoughtless can only assess its worth in the light of its loss. For them, only oppression can awaken appreciation of lost freedom. But that is too late.

We have reached a stage where there is only one question to answer. Shall we abandon our freedom to apes or defend it as a trust for the future generations of men? For Liberty is always a legacy in trust. The Freedom of 1940 is the Liberty bequeathed by the dead and the living of 1914 and onward.

The Freedom that we hold in trust to-day
Is not for us to jeopardise at will.
We did not make it, though we've nurtured it,
But we may only call it ours until
We part with life, and then we pass it on
To those who wait, expectant, as their right,
That we who held the torch in trust for them,
Will pass it on with steady flame and bright.
For every generation holds in trust
This precious torch attained by blood and tears,
And we, our children, and our children's heirs,
Must pass it undefiled along the years.

It must not be said by the millions unborn, “Liberty is what our fathers had and bartered for a brief illusion.”

They shall not mourn of liberty betrayed,
Nor lay a vassal's curse upon the years,
Better that they should weep for men who died,
Than mourn a squandered freedom
with their tears.

No tobacco? Can you picture what it would mean to millions of people if the world's supply of tobacco were suddenly and for ever cut off and no more could be had for love or money? Airily classed by this government and that as a mere “luxury”—tobacco has yet become almost as necessary as food to most people. Fortunately there is no danger of such a catastrophic state of things eventuating as a world without its weed. The huge output is constantly increasing; demand creates supply. Happily for Maorilanders some of the choicest leaf is grown and manufactured right here in New Zealand. Visiting experts and connoisseurs who have sampled the five popular brands. Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Riverhead Gold, Desert Gold, Cavendish and Cut Plug No. 10 (Bullshead) have pronounced them equal if not superior to, the finest tobacco produced in other lands with the added advantage (an enormous one) that they are practically without nicotine–eliminated by toasting in the process of manufacture, so that they are powerless to harm even the most inveterate smoker.*

page 36