To the European, the American tendency to judge everything in terms of quantity and dollars stands in sharp contrast to such decidedly idealistic traits. He easily draws the conclusion that the American is more materialistically inclined than he is. However, it is advisable to be prudent before coming to such conclusions. When one thinks of a Swiss or a Dutchman and checks the part which his own personal goods and chattels play in his life, one realizes that the concept of ‘materialism’ demands a somewhat more detailed explanation. The American lives, so to speak, with an enormous will to act within the material world of external things and outward phenomena. The enormously rich country has given him the opportunity of attaining prosperity quickly. This prosperity is thus to be regarded, in a certain sense, as the expression of the force and vitality of his own personality. If one has a large income here, it means something other than it does in Europe. It means that one is a figure of importance. The number of dollars that one earns is frequently mentioned in discussions and conversations. The high post to which someone is appointed is immediately described by the newspapers as a ”$50,000-a-year-position.” Building projects as well as other undertakings are also referred to in terms of dollars, as, for example, the main railroad station in Los Angeles, which is called the ”$11,000,000- station.”
The many dollars which one earns (not everyone, of course; there are poor people as well in America) are just as easily spent again. What else would they be for? The number of institutions of all sorts: museums, libraries, parks, etc., which have been founded by private people is extremely large.
Many people will be familiar with the anecdote of how Stanford University came to be. A married couple of rather plain, ordinary appearance appeared one day before the dean of Harvard University. The dean was short of time that day and could not quite imagine what these simple people wanted of him and requested that they return the next day. They returned on the following day and, when they were seated opposite him, he asked them kindly what he could do for them. Well, they just wanted to ask about how much it would cost to build a complete building complex such as Harvard. ”Oh, about $200,000,000,” said the dean with a smile. Whereupon the couple stated with satisfaction, ”Yes, that’s exactly what we thought” and gave $200,000,000 for the foundation of the university in California which has been given their name: Stanford University.
Not only the millionaires, but also the American in general spends much and readily. One must, however, keep in mind that the situation has changed considerably since the financial crisis of 1929-’30. The cost of living has soared, particularly as a result of the last world war, and the number of those people, including the formerly well-to-do, for whom life has become difficult, even very difficult, is steadily on the rise.
It would be an intriguing task to compare the American people from an ethnological viewpoint with the different European peoples, a portion of whose citizens have become Americans in the course of the last centuries. However, because this would lead to a much too detailed discourse, we shall limit ourselves to making a few simple observations.
In contrast to the American’s quantitative attitude toward life, the European is generally more interested in a qualitative one. That is to say, his life bears the character of a greater inwardness, his ‘soul-life,’ to use a Germanic term, is directed to a far greater extent to the world within him. The lack of intimacy which marks American life has been noted previously. The European in general, rich or poor, will create something of a sphere within his dwelling in which his soul feels at home. His furniture and his wall decorations mean something to him, even when they are ugly, old and worn out. An old armchair belongs to him, simply because he has often sat there thinking or reading, or because it is connected with memories of events which happened long ago in his paternal home. Such feelings on the whole are unknown to the American. To him, houses and furniture are utilitarian articles which are fit for use only as long as they are entirely in order and show no flaws.
This lack of intimacy also appears in the personal life of the people. The well-known figures: the statesmen, the scholars, the millionaires or the film stars, no longer have a private life. Everything they do is discussed in intimate detail in newspapers and magazines. Moral scandals as well as serious or petty crimes, are all treated openly in public without the least restraint. Although these matters are sometimes handled in a similar manner in some of the European countries, such as France or England, one may safely say that the American goes the furthest in disclosing the intimacies of his soul. Again, one has the tendency to connect this with the youth of the people. Just as children and young people express naked truths to each other without reserve, and bear no grudges when the storm has blown over, such is the case here also. American newspapers and periodicals publish particulars of decidedly low standards about the lives of people in high positions even up to the President of the United States himself--particulars which in Europe would make such people completely intolerable, but which are of little or no significance in America. One is used to it and the dynamic, still pliable, somewhat untamed soul structure easily takes the negative aspects of human nature in stride.
Herein lies an important distinction between the American people and the English, who are otherwise so closely related to each other. The English language has become the language of common usage in America, in spite of the many Germans, Italians, Poles, and so on, who have flocked to the country in the course of the centuries. Both the American people and the English are representatives of what Rudolf Steiner7 describes as the ‘consciousness soul’, that is, the soul from which the forces of the will have penetrated deeply into the human organism, thereby being enabled to establish an immediate relationship with the environment. The consciousness soul began its development in the 15th century, not only in England but throughout Europe, and particularly in the Western European countries. An important transformation of human consciousness, ensued: the dawning of the scientific age, in which the human soul could begin orienting itself in the world of physical events. Along with the scientific age came technology, industry, in short, everything which was to contribute its part to an ever greater extent to molding the character of the modern world-picture. For the first time, it brought to consciousness that the world is a totality. The rise of the natural sciences occurred during the same period as that of the urge to venture forth and explore the entire world.
The first voyages of discovery were laboriously executed under great hardships. Steamships and railroads later improved communication across the many thousands of miles, while, in our day, aviation has conquered all distance. England, and later, America, took the leading part in the development of this consciousness soul. The people of these countries proved to be particularly gifted with regard to it. The differences between them are nevertheless very great.
The self-consciousness of the Englishman has a decidedly inward character; it permeates his entire being to such an extent that, wherever he is, a little piece of England arises. Wherever an Englishman may be in the world, there is England. When in a strange country, he would never be able to feel himself as a foreigner. The other fellow will always be the foreigner to him. This is not the case with the American. His self-consciousness has more of the character of self-confidence. He has the feeling that the whole world lies before him as one enormous territory for action, in which he, as the pioneer, may go to work. The others are not so much foreigners to him but rather another sort of earth inhabitant, in whom he becomes enthusiastically interested, whom he enjoys meeting, and from whom he wants to learn, because he senses that they are the carriers of certain elements of the soul which he lacks. He will, however, always regard these people more or less as representatives of a past age, whereas he sees himself as the man of the future. It is for this reason that the American cannot believe other than that every European also secretly desires to become an American. The contrast between ‘the old world’ and ‘the new world’ is of primary importance to him.
The intimate, reserved character of the Englishman has become almost proverbial. The many things which ‘one’ cannot do, which ‘one’ cannot say, determine life in England to a large extent. The smile has taken the place of the genial laugh. Boisterousness points to a lower class upbringing. ‘Good taste’ should prevail everywhere, in whatever one says or does, outwardly or inwardly. The situation is entirely different in America, where one likes to speak loudly and laugh heartily, and where one greets one’s friends with rough, well-meant cuffs and blows. Whereas the inner life of the Englishman is sharply delineated and restricted within severe boundaries, that of the American is extremely mobile, even unbridled and directed at the world about him. ‘To be an introvert’ in America almost means that one is not quite normal. These traits already show themselves very clearly in the development of the language. The American language will, in all probability, have severed itself from the English language in the course of the next century or two to such a degree that one will be able to refer to it as being an entirely new language, a sister language of the English tongue. The number of words and expressions peculiar to ‘American’ is already quite considerable. Margret Bovery12, a German-American, who has written a most interesting little book in order to bring the Germans somewhat closer to the army of occupation, lists a number of highly interesting examples with regard to that. The traveler journeying from England to America notices a similar difference between these two languages as there is, for example, between Dutch and Flemish.
As has already been mentioned, great numbers of people emigrated from Germany to the ‘promised land’ especially in the period between 1830 and 1845. There are some cities, such as Milwaukee and Cincinnati, for example, where 50% of the population is of German origin, a fact which one finds confirmed in the names of their inhabitants. Both of these cities are known for their breweries! Such cities are, however, aside from that, thoroughly American, although one does find quarters here and there which are somewhat European in architectural style. The Germans are, on the whole, much admired in America for their industriousness and technical skill. They are good workers, skillful foremen and painstaking industrialists. One also finds a very large number of professors and scholars of German origin at various universities.
Of the 38,000,000 emigrants who arrived in America between 1830 and 1930, the Germans were the most numerous, namely almost 5,800,000. They were followed in numerical strength by Italians, Irish, Russians and Poles. The last two were registered in common, however, the Poles were definitely in the majority and finally the English. The number of Dutch emigrants within the same period of time is comparatively small, a mere 245,460.
The Dutchman in Europe still shows the tendency to award himself a more important part with respect to America than is justified by the facts and figures. And yet, the little group of Dutch colonists was one of the very first, and New York was originally called New Amsterdam. Here, one still finds a statue of Peter Stuyvesant, and Wall Street is still named after the wal (Dutch for ramparts) which Stuyvesant had put up for the protection of his city. The names of Brooklyn Breukelen and Harlem Haarlem still sound familiar to Dutch ears. At the same time, however, it must be borne in mind that New York has developed since that time into a city of 9,000,000 inhabitants, where more Italians live than in the second largest city of Italy, and furthermore where all peoples and races of the world are represented. These reminders of the original founders of the city are not much more than historical curiosities to the American, things which he learns at school. The American still has the idea that Holland is characterized by windmills, tulips and wooden shoes. The fact that so many of America’s leading figures are of Dutch origin (the Roosevelts, for example, and the many ‘Vans’) certainly lends considerable weight to the matter of the Dutch element. And, although the American, with his good-naturedness and accommodating spirit, always likes to say something friendly to the newcomer and to praise the country of his origin, one still has the impression that the Dutch element is often regarded—particularly by the true Americans of the old, established families—as one of the positive components of importance in the rise of the American people.
To the average American, it is not comprehensible as to why the European countries have not yet managed to become a United States of Europe. He thinks Europe is just plain backward in some respects. Traveling from Holland to Switzerland through Belgium, Luxemburg and France, he has to show his passport seven different times and talk with seven different customs officers. In his own country, he can travel from coast to coast if he wants to—ten times as far—through any number of states, and no one will ever ask him where he is coming from or where he is going. One can, of course, try to explain it all to him, pointing out the extremely complicated relationships which exist in Europe, as well as the differences in the historical development of the different European states throughout the centuries. Or one can tell him about little cities in Holland which celebrate the one-thousandth anniversary of their existence, thereby calling to mind the young professor who showed me around Sacramento, and who remarked proudly, ”You see, Sacramento is really an old town, 100 years old!” This will all be of interest to the American, but it will not take away the fact that he thinks it is high time Europe chose to do things in a different manner.
The color line is a  question which is so complicated that it requires a separate study of its own, and yet it seems necessary to me to make a few observations on this subject. One of the first reactions of the European to the American idea of democracy and the principle of equality which goes along with it is expressed in the unavoidable question, ”But what about the Blacks?” It tugs at one’s heartstrings when one sees the Blacks in the Southern states sitting in the special parts of trains and buses reserved for them, or finds signs outside the countless restaurants along the road which read: ”Whites only.” The poverty of these people gives one an equally great jolt. There are, however, entirely different impressions as well. At a concert given by Marion Anderson which I attended in San Diego, roughly a third of the two thousand listeners were Blacks. The biography of George Washington Carver14, a great botanist and a very sensitive man who, as a child, had lived in slavery, belongs among the much read and much talked about books. Under the auspices of New York University, I once spoke to a gathering of psychologists and educators among whom there were numerous Blacks, and where everyone associated with everyone else in the most natural and cordial manner imaginable. This was also the case at the cocktail party following the lecture. The impression which one gets from the many Blacks who work for the railroads as porters and waiters is, on the whole, a very good one because of their good-naturedness, cheerfulness and willingness to help.
While lecturing on the human soul to the School of Theology of Howard University in Washington, D.C. (one of the universities for Blacks) I not only found a very attentive audience, but a particularly sensitive one. The manner in which these young Blacks listened to the lecture and put their questions afterward, reminded me of the manner in which very intelligent but still rather immature children react in similar situations. One could see them thinking with deep earnestness and devotion to the subject, while their questions and remarks were just as well put as they were deep.
It is my impression that the question of color in America can only be solved in the course of the centuries. The Americans themselves are still too much a race in the making to be able to assimilate another race in such a limited time, particularly when that other race is so very different from their own. Although their platitudes are not without a certain real significance, they still slumber in the unconscious or half-conscious soul life of the great majority of the population.
It is self-evident to the American that the only sound foundation of a people has to be a democratic one. There is also an interesting problem here for the European. Are the Americans truly a democratic people par excellence? Or is it only show? In everyday life, one finds a decidedly democratic attitude. The bus driver who takes a group of tourists to see the sights begins the trip by introducing himself, addressing his passengers as ‘folks’, and wishes to be regarded as their friend and advisor on the trip. The result is always a genial, jovial camaraderie in the course of a very short time.
While staying at a large hotel, I once rang for the valet to come and press my suit. He sauntered blithely into my room with the words, ”Hello, my young man, what can I do for you?” The little old lady who sold newspapers and periodicals at another hotel, and from whom I requested change for the stamp machine, replied affably when I had explained what I wanted, ”I know exactly what you want, Dearie.” It was nothing out of the ordinary after Truman’s re-election when a taxi driver slapped him on the back and said, ”Well done, Harry!”
Despite all this, there are certain circles of Park Avenue residents and the like which are extremely exclusive and to which one may gain entry only with difficulty and by having first procured a special introduction. On the whole, well-defined social classes do not exist in America, it is true, but instead there are all the more strictly separated groups and cliques, all of which have their own way of living and codes of behavior. Even here, deeply hidden in the depths of the soul, profound ties with all Americans are to be found.
In political life, one tries to attain the ideals formulated by Jefferson and Lincoln: ”A government of the people, by the people, for the people.” This democratic tendency is nevertheless penetrated to the highest degree by an overwhelming partisan fanaticism and personal attacks and smear campaigns, sparing nothing and no one, coarse corruption, and even crime. The disclosures which recently appeared in newspapers and periodicals in connection with the murder of one Binaggio, a ‘democratic political boss’ in Kansas City, all spoke volumes.
However, one must not neglect to take into consideration that such revelations have a completely different meaning in America than they would have in Holland, for instance, or in any of the other European countries. Exorbitant undergrowth, rank weeds of all kinds and descriptions, and even poisonous plants have always thrived well in the jungle. Its imposing might is only heightened by their presence. In a just-raked garden, or a well cared-for city park, such weeds would be in the way immediately.
It must also be kept in mind that the democratic will of the American people is still in a youthful stage of development, and that many of the best impulses contained therein will gradually, in the course of time, get their chance. Much is against them. The number of those to whom the right to the ‘pursuit of happiness’ means the mere satisfaction of their own personal, egotistical desires is certainly preponderant—millions of people have come to this country to escape poor economic conditions and even dire poverty.
Although the high ideal ‘freedom’ is in the minds of many—even among the well-educated—still tenaciously bound to the concept of outward prosperity, the deeper aspects, intrinsic to these great ideals of all mankind, still live hidden within the souls of the people. Put into words by the founders of the United States, they have been repeatedly expressed in the utterances of this country’s noblest sons, for example, in the moving epic written by Russell Davenport entitled My Country15 which ends with the optimistic hope:
”That all the peoples of the earth may know
The embattled destination of the free—
Not peace, not rest, not pleasure—
but to dare
To face the axiom of democracy:
Freedom is not to limit, but to share;
And freedom here is freedom everywhere.”
Whether or not these ideals may be attained will depend in large part upon the education of the youth of the nation. It is, of course, not sufficient that all children learn the ‘American creed’ and the words of the Gettysburg Address by heart, as well as being reared according to the doctrine that America is the only country in the world where true democracy prevails. Something else is necessary: an insight into the dangers coming from the sphere of Americanism which threaten the well-being of the child. There are the very widely circulated comic strips, for example, the ugly little stories-in-picture which are often printed in equally ugly color and in which the dominant note is either banal humor or crime. The Sunday edition of almost every newspaper offers one an entire comic section, and one also sees piles of the same in book form on sale in every drug and candy store. The movies, the sensational radio plays and the television programs all play their part in filling the soul of the child with superficial or crude feelings.
At the same time, however, there is a fight being waged against Americanism. In recent years, parents, psychologists and theologians have joined ranks with one another in order to call public attention to the dangers inherent in these matters.
It is interesting to see how American newspapers are filled,- on the one hand, with articles which proclaim with pride and self-confidence the fact that this country spends the very most on educating and bringing up its youth in general, and how, on the other hand, the same newspapers are equally full of articles expressing great anxiety about the huge number of mentally retarded children, as well as youthful psychopaths and criminals. People seem to sense that everything is not quite as it should be, but the causes are mostly sought for in external factors.
On the whole, the American believes in the idea that the child must not be overburdened with work, and that it must be left to develop its own capabilities in its own way. One even expects a large degree of independence from small children. Nowhere in the world does one find such self-confident, candid little lads and lasses of three to five years of age as one does in America.
The school day is short in the elementary schools, nor do the children learn very much according to European standards. The case is somewhat similar in the junior and senior high schools. And, as the vacations are long, the children have a great deal of free time—which, as a matter of course, is spent at the movies or watching television. Sports are highly regarded: to be captain of a football or baseball team is not only an honor for the boy himself, but for his parents as well, and is more highly regarded than getting good marks in school. The passion for sports also remains through the college years but, there, the students do not forget to work hard as well.
After having given numerous lectures to student groups throughout a number of different states in America, my personal impressions regarding the inner qualities and interest which they exhibited were highly favorable. They made an open, fresh, intelligent impression and always had many questions to ask. This they did with great outward boldness, but certainly not without inward modesty. In the many talks which I had with teachers and young professors as well, particularly in the Midwest and the West, I constantly experienced a refreshing mixture of self-confidence and extreme willingness to learn.
A number of lectures regarding the ‘art of education’ founded by Rudolf Steiner brought me into contact with young idealistic educators who proved to be highly conscious of the dangers which threaten youth in America and who, therefore, strove for a truly profound contact with the parents of their pupils, so that they might join forces in taking a stand against such threats.
In attempting to characterize mere Americanism, as opposed to the true spirit of America, one must first and foremost look to the previously mentioned quantitative element which permeates the entire American society, ”the quantitative cast to the thinking,” as Commager calls it. Everything must be ‘much’ and ‘big’—”The biggest and the best.” This is all clamorously advertised in words and terms which are out of all proportion to what is being described. What one advertises makes little difference: cars and toothpaste, religious ideals, and even Jesus Himself are all treated with the same type of slogan. Technology rules in outer life, and it is regarded as being self-evident that one owns the newest and the best of everything. People enjoy talking, and talk a great deal, but about the most trifling things imaginable and without really listening to each other.
This all provides extremely fertile soil for corruption and gangsterism, on the one hand, as well as for the formation of the innumerable sects and the practice of false mysticism on the other hand. The human being as a totality of body, soul and spirit threatens to disappear from sight; the human robot gradually appears in his place, the man whose movements and entire attitude are all adapted to the machine which he serves, and whose vacant smile tells one that he enjoys knowing that he has the use of everything which his refined technology offers him.
Those people, however, who are representative of the true spirit of America, clearly recognize that there are two sides to the coin. James T. Adams writes, for example, in the epilogue of his previously mentioned book1:
”We cannot become a true democracy by giving ourselves up as individuals to selfishness, physical comfort and cheap amusements. The very foundation of the American dream of a better and richer life for all is that all, in varying degrees, will be capable of wanting to share in it. There is nothing whatever in a fortune merely in itself or in man merely in himself. It all depends on what is made of each.”
These true Americans perform their duties with great modesty and without the use of boisterous publicity. They are at work on the attainment of the great ideals of which Walt Whitman has sung; which Emerson, with his sensitive, ingenious idealism, has described, and to which a modern writer such as Thomas Wolfe has again given expression in a highly impressive manner. To people such as these, the real American, the true human being, is something which is yet to be born; with and through him, a new social order will arise.
This is what Adams calls ”the American dream”:
”But there has also been the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each in accordance with his ability or achievement”... ”It is not merely a dream of motor cars and high wages, but a dream of a social order in which every man and every woman will be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and to be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
Outwardly, America has long been ‘discovered’, it is true, but to these writers the true, inward, spiritual ‘discovery’ of this country has yet to take place. The America of today, having its fling through its own super-abundance, is to them merely a final stage of an already sinking period.
Thomas Wolfe13, the brilliant young writer who died in 1939, just short of his fortieth year, described the America of his day in two massive novels, which he completed shortly before his death. Completely neglecting the established literary and aesthetic laws, he allows a mighty procession of images depicting the life and the people of this entire society to pass before the mind’s eye, sparing nothing and no one but, at the same time, exhibiting a deep understanding of the noblest human values. His novel You Can’t Go Home Again ends with an impressive creed:
”I believe that we are lost here in America but I believe we shall be found. And this belief, which mounts now to the catharsis of knowledge and conviction, is for me—and I think for all of us—not only our own hope, but America’s everlasting, living dream. I think the life which we have fashioned in America, and which has fashioned us—the forms we made, the cells that grew, the honeycomb that was created—was self-destructive in its nature, and must be destroyed. I think these forms are dying and must die, just as I know that America and the people in it are deathless, undiscovered and immortal, and must live. I think the true discovery of America is before us. I think the true fulfillment of our spirit, of our people, of our mighty and immortal land, is yet to come. I think the true discovery of our own democracy is still before us. And I believe that all these things are as certain as the coming day, as inevitable as the coming night ...”
He is also familiar with the enemy, which we have here chosen to call ‘Americanism’:
”I believe the enemy comes to us with the face of innocence and says: ‘See I am one of you — I am one of your children, your son, your brother and your friend. Behold how sleek and fat I have become — and all because I am just one of you and your friend. Behold how rich and mighty I am—and all because I am one of you, shaped in your life style, your way of thinking, your qualities’…He lies! And now we know he lies! He is not our friend, our son, our brother. And he is no American! For, although he has a thousand familiar and convenient faces, his own true face is as old as Hell ... ”
The discrepancy between ideal and reality is great, not only with Americans, but with the peoples of all nations. However, the contrast is often a more glaring one in America. Darkness and light are to be found standing directly next to each other, and thus the contrast is more obviously striking to the eye. The so frequently expressed ideals of a democracy with equal rights for all just do not seem to harmonize with the place reserved for Blacks, native Americans and other minorities in American society, or with the enormous influence of capitalism, the formation of conglomerates, or the pressure politics of the trade unions.
The same sort of extremes are certainly to be found in Europe as well, but there, the age-old cultivation of spiritual and cultural values binds them to one another in numerous transitional forms. This is true with regard to both the inward-spiritual life, and the outward-social codes. Constructing a metaphor derived from Goethe’s doctrine of color, one might say that darkness and light often face each other in America without the presence of transitional shades and nuances, whereas the European peoples live more strongly in the hues in between.
The true spirit of America is related to Americanism as light is to darkness, as spiritual birth is to material death. Will the epic of America, to be written in centuries to come, speak of the birth and development of a completely new people or perhaps even a number of new American peoples which gave birth to great and noble ideals in humanity—ideals which they were able to actualize particularly in the fields of economic affairs and social relationships? Or will that epic tell of the tragic decline of a people who proved to be incapable of resisting the enticements which were rooted in the technical proficiency and material riches of that very people, and which caused it to forget its true spiritual guides?
Much will depend on the development which Europe itself undergoes. ‘Americanism’ has also forced its way into European life, where it presents even greater dangers than in America. In the time that lies behind us, cultural fatigue has led to terrible excesses which brought about world catastrophes. Europe will have to give birth to a new spirit of mind, through which the strengths inherent in each nation separately may pass through a metamorphosis on a higher level and by which the peoples, as peoples, may be reborn into humanity as such.
People in Europe sensed something to this effect after both World Wars, but proved to be too weak to free themselves from the coercive political and economic circumstances prevalent at that time, by which they were held captive again and again.
And yet there is an urgent need for a new community of the peoples of the earth, and that this community become a reality before the close of the present century. Working from a higher spiritual plane and according to a true insight into the deeper nature of mankind, men shall then have the powers which they need in order to resolve the numerous political, economic and cultural problems of humanity.
The feeling of forming all together one humanity, of belonging all together to one family of man, is not difficult to find among Americans, even though it often expresses itself in a primitive manner. This is not to be wondered at. The new world only began its development in the 17th and 18th centuries, and is in reality much more a child of the 19th and 20th— the time in which the concept ‘one world’ first truly came into being. The voyages of discovery of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, as well as the discoveries in the field of natural sciences made during that same period and which resulted in enormous technological advances, gradually led man to the insight of belonging together with his fellowman to one whole in which all would have to learn to live together. The feeling of responsibility for the world as a whole and for the family of man inhabiting it came slowly, gradually, into the picture.
The American senses this responsibility, although in a somewhat naive manner. Here one finds real confidence in the effectiveness of such official organizations as the United Nations Organization (UNO) and United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to a far greater extent than in Europe. The attitude of the American with regard to international affairs is characterized by a tremendous amount of good will alid readiness to help. This fact must not be overestimated in significance, but it would be a greater mistake to underestimate its positive aspects. Here one has to deal with germinative powers which are demanding the chance for further development and which, having been fashioned and brought to maturity by a fuller knowledge-of-self and sharper powers of discrimination, will prove to be of the greatest importance to humanity.
After one of my lectures on folk psychology in which I had attempted to characterize the mentality and the spirit of a number of different peoples, it made a deep impression upon me when an elderly American remarked with deep earnestness, ”The spirit which guides the American people is Christ.”
The European who is aware of the many negative forces which play an active part in the life of the American people may easily read something like that with a shock. And yet, such a remark can also be seen against the background of an enormous conflict of which many people in America are already aware, a conflict which has in part already begun but which is yet to develop itself into one of enormous proportions namely the conflict between the Christian and the anti-Christian powers.
The European peoples will have to take their stand hand in hand with that of the American nation if they are to find and unite themselves with the true spirit that exists therein. In the event that they are unable to see through the evils of mere Americanism, desiring only to harvest material gain, they will not only bring ruin onto themselves and their countries under the semblance of prosperity, but do America a disservice as well.
We can only hope that a mutual desire will come to prevail in the manner expressed by Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural speech one month before his assassination:
”With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in ... to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.”
America and Americanism