Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sport (by Maurice Samuel)

From the book: "You Gentiles", Maurice Samuel, 1924. 

THE most amazing thing in your life, the most in contrast with ours, is its sport. By this I do not mean simply your fondness for physical exercise, your physical exuberance, but the psychological and social institutionalization of sport, its organization, its predominant role as the outlet and expression of your spiritual energies.

I will not go into the history of sports among you, contrasting it with its absence from our records and emotions. But surely there is something of extraordinary significance in the predominance of sports in your first high civilization, their religious character and their hold on the affection and attention of the masses. That the overwhelming significance of this manifestation of life has been ignored is due essentially to the pomposity of historians, who care for dignity and "scholarship" more than for truth, and who, often lacking the shrewdness, insight, cynicism, craftiness, vulgarity, affection and live-wireness, in brief, the worldliness, to understand what is going on around them in newspapers, politics and movements, think they can nevertheless understand history, which they seem to regard not as yesterday's acts of the people around them to-day, but as a detached and peculiar system, inaccessible to ordinary and uncultured intelligence. I need not go to ancient history. When I read "serious" accounts of the history of our own times, and see in what a seeming conspiracy of stupidity our historians ignore the most potent manifestation of modern life sport, football, baseball and concentrate almost exclusively on such trivialities as politics, which no one takes seriously, I am filled with astonishment and despair. Such men cannot write true history. But some records there are, and however small the attention which "serious" historians have given to this, we must feel that the chief free passion, that is, the chief passion not inevitably aroused by the struggle for existence, the chief spiritual passion, was sport: witness the elaborate religious celebration of sporting events built on athletic contests: witness the adulation, the love, that was poured out to athletic prodigies; witness the dedication of the highest, most inspired talents, to their glorification: witness the tremendous mass passions enlisted in sporting events in Athens, in Rome, in Byzantium and elsewhere.

But in this regard, as in most others, history is by far less important than contact with life. I need not study history or read books to know what sport means to you. I have only to feel the emotions around me, read your newspapers, watch the records of your universities. The most certain, the most consistent, the most sustained and intense free emotion in your life is sport. And when here in America (as, indeed, elsewhere too) some of your professors and educationalists deplore and condemn the preponderating role of sport in the schools, they fail to understand your spirit. Your spirit is sport: particularly your young men, who are not yet absorbed in the struggle for existence, and whose emotions are therefore for the largest part free, must find in sport, in games, in contests, the most satisfactory expression of their instincts.

For the most part, of course, both professor and public, despite occasional jokes at their own expense and at the expense of the institution, sympathize with the attitude of the young and encourage it not only by their energetic interest in organized sport outside, but by the passionate attention with which they follow the sporting records of the colleges. It is a commonplace that the scholastic achievements of the universities are both unintelligible and uninteresting to the vast mass of graduates, and that academic work can in no wise compete with athletic achievement in taking the heart and interest both of these and of the general public. And even those who can understand the content of scholastic achievement are also drawn more powerfully toward sporting achievement.

I do not agree at all with the few critics of your universities who see in this state of affairs the decline of the spirit of the country and of its educators. This state of affairs is not decadence, but the full and vigorous blossoming of your spirit. This is your way of life.

The contention of the majority of your educators, that the moral instinct is trained on the football and baseball field, in boxing, rowing, wrestling and other contests, is a true one, is truer, perhaps, than most of them realize. Your ideal morality is a sporting morality. The intense discipline of the game, the spirit of fair play, the qualities of endurance, of good humor, of conventionalized seriousness in effort, of loyalty, of struggle without malice or bitterness, of readiness to forget like a sport all these are brought out in their sheerest and cleanest starkness in well-organized and closely regulated college sports. And on the experiences and lessons which these sports imply your entire spiritual life is inevitably founded.

It is therefore unjust to treat this aspect of your life flippantly: you yourselves often fail to recognize (except in unacknowledged instinct) how deeply it is rooted in your life. In having sundered it from the overt and organized homage which you pay to spiritual values (in the church, that is) you have split yourselves. Hence the comparative weakness of your organized churches, which are founded on a misconception. Sport is for you a serious spiritual matter. It is the proper symbolization, the perfect ritual, wherein your spiritual forces, finding expression, also find exercise and sustenance. They were cleaner-witted who, before the advent of Christianity, associated sport intimately with your religious life. To-day you are practising on a vast scale the troubled hypocrisy of unhappy converts who have been convinced in reason of a new religion, but whose proper and healthy instincts drive them to surreptitious homage to older gods. Were sport given its right place again in your acknowledged spiritual institution, the church you would be happier, cleaner, stronger.

For, the premise once granted that life itself is but a joyous adventure, a combat, a passage-at-arms, you cannot do better than symbolize this premise in your athletic contests, in Olympiads, with local worship conducted on the village green and in the athletic halls and academies of the cities. The rigor of the rules (or sacred rites) which attended the open association of sport with religion testifies to the profound inner compulsion which makes the two identical. Indeed, even when religion and sport have been sundered, there is more moral odium attached to bad sportsmanship (cheating in the game, cowardice, selling out, striking foul and so on) than to the contravention of a moral injunction bearing no sporting character. You cannot, therefore, do better, from your point of view, than instill into your young a keen love and admiration of right sportsmanship, and encourage their participation in sports governed by severe regulations. Trained with sufficient consistency, they will carry into their adult life an ever-immanent sense of right and wrong according to your lights. And no better training could be devised, of course, than that which is associated with your most powerful educational institutions.

It is true that the system, even when seen from its own point of view, has its potential evils. Partisanship may become so keen that it thwarts the purpose of the sport institution. The desire to win or to be on the winning side may become so bitter as to overrule the moral sense; and combats between champions (as once between the principals of opposing armies) may actually discourage individual participation. But every system, if it is a living thing, is subject to this danger. And even out of the evil side you may draw good. If millions watch with breathless interest the combat of champions, that combat, conducted under the truest sporting rules, becomes a great influence, and fine, gentlemanly athletes may become the teachers of the nation.

And again, seen within itself, sport-morality has as severe a discipline (if not, from our point of view, any spiritual sincerity) as a God-morality. It is as difficult and as exacting to be a gentleman as to be good. In many respects, of course, the two concepts overlap, though they are differently centered. Both call for restraint, for consideration of rules. Both are an advance on moral anarchy,

In thus characterizing your ethical concepts, I have already indicated the essential difference which separates them from ours. There is no touch of sport morality in our way of life, in our problems of human relationship. Our life morality cannot be symbolized in a miniature reproduction. We have no play-presentation of life. Our young, even like our adults, are referred at once to the first source, to the word of God, to the word of the prophet or teacher speaking in the name of God. Or, to secularize this statement, our young, like our adults, are imbued with a feeling of the absolute in their moral relations. Our virtues lack the flourish ano the charm of the lists: our evils are not mitigated by well-meant and delightful hypocrisies. Murder (except in self-defense) is murder, whether committed in a duel, with all its gentlemanly rules, or in unrestrained rage. When we are set face to face with an opponent, and one must kill the other, we proceed in the most effective way: we cannot understand the idea that rules of conduct govern murder. We cannot understand a man who, attacking another, insists that the other, in self-defense, shall strike only above the belt. That strange character, the gentleman thief, the gallant and appealing desperado, who recurs with such significant frequency in your fine and popular literature, perhaps points my meaning best. The idea of a "gentleman thief" is utterly impossible to the Jew: it is only you gentiles, with your idealization of the sporting qualities, who can thus unite in a universally popular hero, immorality and Ritterslttlichkeit, It is probable, of course, that the majority of your Robin Hoods and Claude Duvals were nothing but low ruffians, devoid even of chivalry: but their significance is not in what they were, but in what you make of them in worship. The persistence of the types is evident to-day as much as ever, when popular fancy is charmed and youth tempted into emulation by the "Raffles" and "Lupins" of the world of books. At no time have we Jews sympathized with this type. We are insensible to the appeal of "the correct" and the graceful as a substitute for our morality. Knightly or unknightly, courtly or uncourtly, sportsmanlike or the opposite in our real life mean nothing. We only ask: Is it right or is it wrong?

For the rules which you bring into life from the athletic field have no relation to the ultimate moral value of your acts and serve only to give you the moral satisfaction of having obeyed some rule or other while doing exactly what you want to do. Thus, grown and intelligent as you may be, you govern the hunting of animals with the most curious and seriously-taken regulations. You must not shoot a pigeon or a rabbit in sport unless such and such regulations are obeyed it is "unsportsmanlike." You make a great moral to-do about these regulations. But what, in God's name, has this to do with the right or wrong of killing defenseless animals for sport?

You have attempted to infuse into business, which you have made the stark translation into modern social terms of the old kill-and-be-killed chaos, an ineffectual gallantry which will again give you the sense of "playing the game" while giving free course to your worst instincts. I mean that, apart from the necessities of the law, you attempt to bring into the field of business the curious punctilio of the fencing master courtesies and pretenses, slogans and passwords, which mitigate only in appearance the primal savagery of the struggle. "Service," "the good of the public," "a square deal" all the catchwords of the advertising schools which give a flavor of gamesome friendliness to a world that is essentially merciless this is not intentional lying, it is not deliberate hypocrisy. You believe that homage to these forms constitutes a morality. It does constitute a morality of a kind. We, on our part, recognize no particular system that divides business from the rest of life. One is as honest in business as in anything else. For us business has not a specialized idealism or court etiquette, a particularized code of honor. We are honest and truthful or we are not honest and truthful: it has nothing to do with our being in "this game" or in "that game," a shopkeeper or a tailor or a banker. And because we cannot, by reason of our nature, follow you in these playful caracoles and curvetings, but drive straight to the purpose, using the plain common sense and honesty or dishonesty of the occasion, you are bound to regard us (as many of you do) as lacking in "etiquette" that is, in your morality.

A similar division in other essential opinions illustrates the primal difference between us. Your attitude toward combat (duels, wars) and all the virtues pertaining to it, is one from which we shrink. To you courage is an end in itself, to be glorified, worshiped, as imparting morality to an act. To us, courage is merely a means to an end. Hence your courage is combative, ours passive, yours offensive, ours defensive. Heroics play a great part in your idealism none in ours. To fight is never a glorious business to us. It is a dirty business: we perform it when we must (and I suppose there is very little to choose between you and us in the matter of courage), but we cannot pretend that the filthy necessity is a high virtue. "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" is not a Jewish sentiment: for it is not sweet to die for anything: but if we must die for it, we will.

Nor do we glorify the warrior as a warrior, despite occasional individual defections of ours from that view. If my brother goes mad and attacks me, and I must slay him in self-defense, how can I be happy over it? It is a cruel and miserable business, to be finished with as soon as possible, to be forgotten as soon as possible. This is essentially the Jewish attitude toward war and warriors. I do not find in the Bible delight in war and warriors. Our exultation in victory was not the glorification of the warrior, but only a fierce joy at having survived. We fought bitterly, vindictively, in order to kill: and our God was a God of war. But however this may be, I know with utter certainty concerning us as we are to-day that the conscious Jew, the Jew steeped in Jewish life, despises the fighter as such, abhors war: and though he can die for his faith as well as any one else, refuses to make a joyous ritual of combat.

For when you gentiles assert that you abhor war, you deceive yourselves. War is the sublimest of the sports and therefore the most deeply worshiped. Do you mourn when you must fight? Is a nation plunged into gloom when a declaration of war arrives? Do you search your hearts closely, cruelly, to discover whether you yourselves are not to blame that this monstrous thing has come to pass? Does a tremor of terror go through you "Perhaps we are guilty"? Do you clamor for the records of the long complications which have ushered in this horror? Do you go to your task of defense or offense darkly, grimly, bitterly? No, you hang out your most gorgeous banners, you play merry music, your blood runs swiftly, happily, your cheeks brighten and your eyes sparkle. A glorious accession of strength marks the throwing down or the acceptance of the gage. From end to end of the land the tidings ring out, and every man and woman of mettle every "red-blooded" man and woman, itches for a hand in it.

Let me say clearly that I do not think all of you are fighting heroes. I have no doubt that millions of you, in every country, went to war reluctantly. But this does not contradict my contention. It only means that millions of you are not capable of living up to the ideal morality which you cherish. But even the greatest coward, even the most unwilling conscript toys, in his emotions, with the adventures and triumphs of war. I speak, throughout this book, of the ideals to "which you aspire and from which you draw your moral inspiration. And it is certain that war itself, independently of all aims and justifications, is a prime necessity to you: and a declaration of war is the long-awaited signal of release, greeted with extravagant and hysterical joy. It is not love of country which induces this flood of happiness it is combat, the glory of sport, the game, the magnificence of the greatest of all contests.

Again, they were cleaner-witted, those of you who declared openly and frankly that war is the natural pursuit of noblemen and of kings. The highest and most life-passionate among you, the most exalted, were to be dedicated above all others to your way of life. Conversely, the basest among you were accounted as unworthy of admittance into the splendid company of warriors. The scullion must not dare to aspire to combative distinction. To-day, as of old, you have nothing but contempt (revealed in its true intensity in time of war) for the true pacifist. Your nature is to-day what it was a thousand years ago. "In the somber obstinacy of the British worker still survives the tacit rage of the Scandinavian Berserker." And vain and futile and foolish are all these efforts to dam up and to choke the extremest and most cherished outlet of your natural instinct.

But in war, as in all other games of life, you satisfy your morality by means of amazing punctilios. To kill thus leaves you clean: to kill otherwise is ungentlemanly. In a few of these fine points in the conduct of war and of duels there may lurk some true moral significance. But it amazes us that in the exercise of this punctilio you find sufficient righteousness to ease your conscience altogether.

Were you truly concerned with right and wrong instead of with the sporting "right thing," with honor, what a flood of horror and of pity and of prostration would follow each of your wars: with what frantic haste you would fly to the consolation of each other; with what tremors of moral terror you would examine again and again the catastrophic madness from which you have just emerged. Merciful God! You have just slain ten thousand, a hundred thousand men, fathers and sons: in the red rage of combat you have - disemboweled them, suffocated them, drowned them, torn them limb from limb, blinded them. A million loving parents, children, friends have wakened sweating in the night out of a terrible vision of last despairs, of contracted, screaming agonies. And now, when it is over, do you run to your churches, and with streaming eyes, fling yourselves at the foot of priest and altar, terrified lest the murder you have committed might have been avoided, lest at least some of the guilt rest upon your head? For surely if even the faintest stain of culpability, the minutest blot, a grain, an all but invisible fleck, an oversight, momentary impatience, pride, carelessness, leave you not utterly, utterly, utterly blameless, you have need of all the Divine Compassion, all the infinite forgiveness of God.

But your wars have never ended, since history records them, save with the same outbursts of pride and insolence as began them. Was there ever a Te Deum turned into a cry of Mea culpa? Was ever a war entered in a history book save as a glorious adventure, glorious in victory, glorious in disaster? And even if, after a hundred years, a historian here and there dares tarnish the stainless records of your purposes with a single plausible doubt, was there ever an awakening of guilt a thousandth part as strong as the awakening of pride and happiness which accompanies the recalling of the exploits of any war, however remote?

You have just passed through the wildest and most universal of all wars. Search your memories and your press well. Where was the hushed humility, the awe, the shuddering amazement which should have fallen on the world when the Armistice was declared? Did you not straightway send forth emissaries to bargain and barter, to accuse and to denounce? And above all to maintain your national dignity! What dignity, pray? What was left of dignity to a single one of you? What was left of decency to any who had joined in the furious and blasphemous revelries of those five years?

You hate war? Nonsense; you enjoy it. If, in the passing tiredness which follows the strenuous exertion, you pause awhile to reflect, you do not dare to think into the root-causes and evils lest indeed you make war impossible. You tinker with a few regulations, gas laws, Flaminenwerjer rules, armed and unarmed ships and similarly futile trivialities. You call each other "bad sports" and a day later you are prepared, if the occasion offers, to embark again on the exhilarating enterprise.

Yet, I say, for all this, you can never be guilty in your own eyes, not one of you. Denunciation can only come from one who does not share your morality. Your conscience cannot be seared, for you have done no wrong. War is the high-mark of your life, the true and triumphant expression of your instincts. And therefore, whatever church and religion may preach in the intervals between actual fighting, you remember all your wars with wistful and longing pride as the greatest events in your existence. The splendor cf war, in preparation and in action and in recollection, in the rhythm of training armies, in the frantic excitement of battle, in the glorious commemoration of monument and song and tapestry, is the flower of your civilization, material and spiritual. In nothing are you as efficient as in war; in nothing as true to yourselves. Strained to the utmost in this terrific game your splendid faculties find full and vehement exercise. And whosoever from under the shadow of God upbraids you and discourages you, is your eternal enemy.

I cannot undertake, while developing this theme, to answer all of the objections which occur even to me. In part, of course, some of these objections are unanswerable, and are, in my opinion, only overborne by counter-objections. In part they are futile objections. But in touching on some of them, I may make my viewpoint dearer. I shall be reminded that wherever war was declared we Jews have responded as readily and as eagerly as you gentiles. Statistics (which are quite reliable in such rule-of-thumb matters) bear this out. But I do not believe that we did so from motives that resembled yours. Many reasons compelled us, We are everywhere, to a large extent, aliens. A sense of inferiority in status drives us to extremes of sacrifice in justifying our claims to equality. More than that: we Jews are so frequently and so vigorously reminded, in all constitutionally governed and liberal countries, that we ought to be grateful for permission to live there, that we develop a gratitude which is not only disproportionate but occasionally grotesque. Our children, in schools and elsewhere, are taught, year in, year out, to contrast their present freedom and equality of opportunity with the oppression and bitterness which was the lot of their parents elsewhere. Frequently the contrast, as painted in their imagination, is not a duplicate of the reality. However this may be, these incessant and vehement reminders produce their effect. The child almost comes to believe that it was for the especial benefit of oppressed foreigners that America became a "free country" and, instead of accepting American forms of government level-headedly, with the proper degree of appreciation and criticism, he develops a suppressed hysteria of gratitude. This is not a healthy and natural feeling. Children should not be made to feel such things. And if it comes to the matter of contributions to liberty, we Jews have done as much for the enfranchisement of man as any other people. But the Jew, the oppressed par excellence, begins to look upon America's liberty as a personal favor. No wonder then that Jews will rush to fight for America. Yet, despite the contradiction of figures there is still a strong impression abroad that the Jews "failed in their duty," were "slackers." This feeling rises from an instinctive appreciation of that difference between us. We Jews don't like fighting. You gentiles do. Moreover, because you like fighting, you are much more skilful than we in hiding occasional reluctance to fight. Indeed, it is obvious that the more fearful you are of taking a hand in the combat, the more you will glorify and idealize it: while the Jew who is afraid adds actual and overt dislike to his cowardice.

But apart from this, we must not forget that with the schools of the Western world open to our children, your view of things is gradually being imposed on our alien psychology. Of the real and apparent successes of your effort I write elsewhere in this book. But here let me note that the Jewish child in your schools is made to feel that not to like fighting is a sign of complete inferiority. Determined to become your equal, he essays, often with success, to become warlike in his attitude. But it is an artificial success. He does from an imperious sense of duty what you do by instinct. He fights by forcing himself to it. He has not your natural gift and inclination for it.

Of course I shall be told, in establishing this distinction among others, that it is "dangerous to generalize." It is curious with what finality this commonplace is supposed to crush the generalizer. Suppose it is true that it is dangerous to generalize: are not many necessary things dangerous like bearing children and digging coal? A truth is none the less a truth because it is a dangerous truth i.e., open to easy abuse. Nevertheless, the most serious truths can only be stated as generalities. And this most serious truth is among them, this contrast in attitude toward war of Jew and gentile. And as long as the contrast exists, it will be stronger than will, stronger than reason. As long as we are at opposite poles, we shall have to make continuous and strenuous efforts to get on side by side.


Sport (autor: Moris Semjuel)

Iz knjige "Vi Neznabošci" (You Gentiles), Maurice Samuel, 1924. 

Najzapanjujuća stvar u vašem životu, koja je i najviše u suprotnosti sa našim životom, je sport. Pri tome ne mislim jednostavno na vašu ljubav i privrženost, na vaše oduševljenje fizičkim aktivnostima, i bogatstvo te vaše strane, nego na psihološku i društvenu institucionalizaciju sporta i sportskih organizacija i vladajuću ulogu sporta kao načina i izraza vaše duhovne energije.

Neću ulaziti u istoriju sporta kod vas niti praviti poređenje sa potpunim nedostatkom iste kod nas. Ali zasigurno postoji nešto od izuzetne važnosti u činjenici da su sportovi imali vladajuću ulogu u vašoj prvoj višoj civilizaciji, da su bili religioznog karaktera i da su bili središte pažnje i naklonjenosti masa. Činjenica, da je ovakav ogroman značaj ove manifestacije života bio zanemaren, je uglavnom posledica pompeznosti istoričara, kojima su čast i ”učenost” važniji od istine, i koji, često bez dovoljno bistrine, razumevanja, skepticizma, veštine, drskosti, naklonosti i životnosti, ukratko - bez dovoljno svetovnosti da bi razumeli šta se događa oko njih u novinama, politici i dešavanjima, misle da svejedno razumeju istoriju, koju izgleda smatraju ne kao jučerašnje akcije ljudi koji su danas oko njih, nego kao odvojen i specifičan sistem nepristupačan običnoj nekultivisanoj inteligenciji. Nema potrebe da se ide u daleku istoriju. Kada čitam ”ozbiljne” opise istorije našeg vremena, i vidim u kakvoj zaveri gluposti naši istoričari zanemaruju najsnažniju manifestaciju modernog života - sport, fudbal, bejzbol, i koncentrišu se skoro jedino na takve trivijalnosti kao što je politika, koju niko ne uzima ozbiljno, ispuni me zaprepašćenje i očaj. Takvi ljudi ne mogu pisati pravu istoriju. Ali neka zapažanja i zapisi postoje, i koliko god malo pažnje ”ozbiljni” istoričari poklanjali tome, neizbežno se oseća da je glavna slobodna strast, strast koja nije neophodno uzrokovana borbom za opstanak, glavna duhovna strast, bila sport: pogledajte do detalja razvijenu religioznu proslavu sportskih događaja organizovanih oko atletskih takmičenja; pogledajte veličanje i ljubav koja se izlivala na atletske velikane; pogledajte koliko su tom veličanju bili posvećeni najveći i najnadahnutiji talenti; koliko je snažna strast koja se javljala u masama u sportskim događajima u Atini, Rimu, Vizantu i drugde.

Ali u ovom pogledu, kao i u mnogim drugim, istorija je mnogo manje značajna od neposrednog kontakta sa životom. Nema potrebe da učim istoriju ili čitam knjige da bih znao šta vam sport znači. Jedino treba da osetim emocije oko mene, pročitam vaše novine, pogledam zapise sa vaših univerziteta. Najsigurnija, najdoslednija i najpostojanija slobodna emocija u vašem životu je sport. I kada ovde u Americi (kao uostalom i drugde) neki od vaših profesora i nastavnika osuđuju nadmoćnu ulogu sporta u školama, oni ustvari ne razumeju vaš duh. Vaš duh jeste sport: posebno vaši mladi ljudi, koji još nisu uvučeni u borbu za opstanak, i čije su emocije zato većinom slobodne, nalaze u sportu, u igrama, takmičenjima, najzadovoljavajući izraz svojih instinkta.

Naravno, u najvećem broju slučajeva se, i profesori i publika, uprkos povremenim šalama na sopstveni račun ili na račun institucije, slažu sa stavom mladih i hrabre ih, ne samo sopstvenim energičnim zanimanjem za organizovani sport van škola, nego i strastvenom pažnjom kojom prate sportska događanja unutar koledža. Opšte je poznato da su naučna dostignuća nerazumljiva i neinteresantna prilično širokoj masi studenata, i da se akademski rad ni u kom slučaju ne može nadmetati sa sportskim dostignućima u osvajanju srca i interesovanja i studenata i širih masa. A čak su i oni koji jesu u stanju razumeti sadržaj naučnih dostignuća, ipak snažnije privučeni sportskim dostignućima.

Ne slažem se uopšte sa ponekim kritičarima vaših univerziteta koji u ovakvom stanju stvari vide pad duha zemlje i njenih nastavnika. Ovakvo stanje stvari nije dekadencija, nego puno i živo cvetanje vašeg duha. To je vaš način života.

Tvrdnja većine vaših vaspitača da se moralni instinkt vežba na fudbalskom i bejzbolskom terenu, boksom, veslanjem, rvanjem i drugim takmičenjima je istinita, istinitija možda nego što većina od njih shvata. Vaš idealni moral je sportski moral. Intenzivna disciplina igre, duh fer-pleja, osobine izdržljivosti, zdravog humora, propisane ozbiljnosti napora, odanosti, borbe bez zle namere ili gorčine, spremnosti da se drugarski  zaboravi1, sve se ovo, u najčistijem i najneposrednijem obliku, ispoljava u dobro organizovanim i pažljivo regulisanim sportovima na koledžu. A na iskustvima i lekcijama koje ovi sportovi nose, zasnovan je vaš čitav duhovni život.

Nepravedno je stoga odnositi se prema ovom aspektu vašeg života neozbiljno: vi sami često ne prepoznajete (osim instinktom koji se obično zanemaruje) koliko je to duboko ukorenjeno u vašem životu. Time što ste sport odvojili od javnih i organizovanih počasti koje odajete duhovnim vrednostima (to jeste, u crkvi), rascepili ste sebe. I odatle potiče komparativna slabost vaših crkava koje su zasnovane na pogrešnoj osnovi. Sport jeste za vas ozbiljna duhovna stvar. To je ispravna simbolizacija, savršeni ritual, u kojem vaše duhovne snage, nalazeći izraz, takođe nalaze vežbu i održavaju se. Oni koji su, pre postanka Hrišćanstva, vezivali sport blisko sa vašim religioznim životom, su bili bistri. Danas vi praktikujete, na širokoj skali, problematično licemerje nesretnih preobraćenika, koji su ubeđeni razumom u novu religiju, ali čiji ih stvarni i zdravi instinkti vode u smeru skrivenog poštovanja starim bogovima. Da je sportu dato pravo mesto u vašim priznatim religioznim institucijama, u crkvi, vi biste bili srećniji, čistiji i snažniji.

Jer sa pretpostavkom, u jednom trenutku prihvaćenom, da je život jednostavno radosna avantura, borba, passage-at-arms, najviše što i možete je da je simbolizujete u vašim sportskim takmičenjima, Olimpijadama, sa lokalnim obožavanjima izraženim na seoskim travnatim terenima i u gradskim atletskim halama i akademijama. Strogoća pravila (svetih rituala) koji su prisutni u jasnoj vezi sporta i religije, svedoči o dubokoj sili koja ovo dvoje čini jednim. Zaista, čak i kada su religija i sport razdvojeni, postoji više moralnog gađenja spram lošeg sportskog ponašanja (varanje u igri, kukavičluk, izdaja, prekršaj, itd.) nego spram kršenja moralnog pravila koje ne nosi nikakav sportski karakter. Vi stoga ne možete uraditi ništa bolje, sa vašeg aspekta, nego usaditi u vaše mlade snažnu ljubav i poštovanje spram ispravnog sportskog ponašanja, i ohrabriti ih u učešću u strogo regulisanim sportovima. Ako se odgajaju sa postojanošću, oni će nositi kroz čitav život duboki osjećaj pravde i nepravde prema vašim uputstvima. A naravno, nemoguće je obezbediti bolje vaspitanje od onoga koje je povezano sa vašim najmoćnijim obrazovnim institucijama.

Tačno je da svaki sistem, posmatran čak i iz sopstvenog ugla, poseduje potencijalna zla. Lokalni, klupski mentalitet može postati toliko jak da iskrivi svrhu sportske institucije. @elja za pobedom, odnosno da se bude na strani pobednika, može postati toliko gorka da nadvlada moralni osećaj; i borbe među šampionima (kao nekad među vođama armija) mogu ustvari obeshrabriti pojedinca da učestvuje. Međutim, svaki sistem koji ima života u sebi je podložan ovakvim opasnostima. A čak i od zla se može izvući dobro. Ako milioni gledaju bez daha borbu šampiona, ta borba, vođena pod najboljim sportskim pravilima, postaje jak uticaj, a kvalitetni, gospodski sportisti mogu postati učitelji nacije.

A takođe, gledajući ga samog za sebe, sportski moral ima jednako strogu disciplinu kao i Božiji moral (ako već nema, gledano iz našeg ugla, ni malo duhovne iskrenosti). Biti džentlmen jednako je teško i zahtevno kao i biti dobar. Ova dva principa se, naravno, u mnogim aspektima preklapaju, iako nemaju isti koren. Oba traže odricanje i poštovanje pravila. Oba predstavljaju napredak nasuprot moralne anarhije.

Opisujući vaše etičke principe, pomenuo sam osnovne razlike koje ih razlikuju od naših. U našem životu i problemima ljudskih odnosa, nema ni traga sportskom moralu. Naš životni moral ne može biti simbolizovan minijaturnom reprodukcijom. Mi nemamo igranu predstavu života. Naši mladi, kao i odrasli, su od početka upućeni na sam izvor, na reč Božiju, na reč proroka ili učitelja koji govori u ime Božije. Odnosno, ako izuzmemo religiju iz ove tvrdnje, naši mladi i odrasli su prožeti osećajem apsolutnog u njihovim moralnim odnosima. Naše vrline ne poseduju raskošnost i šarm; naša zla nisu ublažena dobronamernim i prekrasnim licemerstvima. Ubistvo (osim u samoodbrani) je ubistvo, bilo da je počinjeno u dvoboju sa svim kavaljerskim pravilima, ili u bezgraničnom besu. Mi, kada se nalazimo licem u lice sa protivnikom, i jedan mora da ubije drugoga, mi to radimo na najefikasniji način: mi ne možemo razumeti ideju da pravila ponašanja mogu upravljati činom ubistva. Mi ne možemo razumeti čoveka koji napadajući drugoga, insistira da taj drugi, u samoodbrani, udara samo iznad struka. Taj strani karakter, lopov džentlmen, galantan i privlačan desperado, koji se javlja sa tako značajnom učestalošću u vašoj popularnoj literaturi, možda najbolje opisuje ono što želim reći. Ideja ”lopova džentlmena” je potpuno nemoguća za Jevreja: samo vi neznabošci, sa vašom idealizacijom sportskih kvaliteta, možete objediniti nemoral i Rittersittlichkeit2 u liku opšte popularnog heroja. Naravno, verovatno većina vaših Robin Hudova i Klod Duvala nisu ništa više od običnih siledžija, lišeni čak i viteštva: ali njihov značaj nije u onome što su zaista bili, nego u onome kakvim ih vi stvarate u svom obožavanju. Postojanost ovakvih tipova je očigledna danas isto kao što je uvek bila, danas kada je mašta ljudi zavedena, a mladi privučeni da oponašaju razne Lupine3 i Raflee4 iz sveta knjiga. Nikada mi Jevreji nismo saosećali sa ovakvom vrstom ličnosti. Mi smo neosetljivi na privlačnost ”pravilnog” i gracioznog kao zamenom za naš moral. Viteško ili ne viteško, dvorsko ili ne, sportsko ili nesportsko, u našem stvarnom životu ne znače ništa. Mi samo pitamo: da li je ispravno ili pogrešno?

Jer pravila koja vi unosite u život sa sportskih terena nemaju nikakve veze sa krajnjim moralnim vrednostima vaših postupaka i služe samo da vam daju moralnu satisfakciju da ste ispoštovali ovo ili ono pravilo, radeći svejedno i dalje, tačno ono što hoćete. I tako, odrasli i inteligentni kao što možete biti, vi sprovodite lov na životinje sa najčudnijim i najozbiljnim pravilima. Ne smeš ubiti goluba ili zeca u sportu ako ta i ta pravila nisu ispoštovana - to nije ”sportski”. Pravite veličanstvenu moralnu halabuku oko ovih pravila. Ali kakve veze, za ime Božije, to ima sa pravdom i nepravdom ubijanja bespomoćnih životinja radi sporta?

Pokušali ste da unesete i u poslovni život, koji vam je, u suštini, direktan prevod onog starog ”ubij ili budi ubijen” haosa na moderne društvene oblike i termine, tu besplodnu galantnost koja vam daje osećaj da igrate po pravilima, ali daje i punu slobodu vašim najgorim instinktima. Time mislim da, nevezano za zakonske obaveze, vi pokušavate da unesete u domen poslovnih odnosa čudnu preciznost majstora mačevanja, ljubaznosti i izgovore, slogane, tajne fraze i lozinke, koji samo naizgled ublažavaju elementarnu brutalnost borbe. ”Služba”, ”javno dobro”, ”fer pogodba”, sve fraze iz reklamnih škola, koje daju ton nestašnog drugarstva svetu koji je u osnovi beskrupulozan - ovo nije namerno laganje, nije namerno licemerje. Vi verujete da poštovanje ovih formalnosti čini moral. Ono, istina, čini nekakav moral. Ali mi, sa naše strane, ne poznajemo nikakav poseban sistem koji odvaja posao od ostatka života. Čovek je onoliko pošten u poslu koliko i u bilo čemu drugom. Za nas, posao nema specifični idealizam ili dvorsku etiketu, nekakav poseban kod časti. Mi smo pošteni i istiniti ili smo nepošteni i neistiniti: to nema nikakve veze sa time što smo trenutno u jednoj ili drugoj igri, što smo prodavac, krojač ili bankar. I zato što ne možemo, po svojoj prirodi, da vas pratimo u ovim nestašnim poskakivanjima i piruetama, nego idemo pravo ka cilju koristeći jednostavan zdrav razum i poštenje ili nepoštenje u datoj situaciji, vi možete samo da nas smatrate (kao što mnogi od vas i rade) lišenim ”etikete”, to jeste, vašeg morala. 

Slične razlike u drugim osnovnim stavovima ilustruju suštinsku razliku među nama. Vaš odnos prema borbi (dvobojima, ratovima) i sve vrline vezane za borbu, je nešto od čega mi zaziremo. Za vas, hrabrost je cilj sam po sebi, kog je potrebno veličati i obožavati, jer daje moralni smisao nekom činu. Za nas, hrabrost je samo način da se dođe do cilja. Tako je vaša hrabrost borbena, naša je pasivna, vaša je napadačka, naša odbrambena. Heroizam igra veliku ulogu u vašem idealizmu, u našem nikakvu. Boriti se, to za nas nikad nije slavna rabota. To je prljava rabota: mi to činimo kada moramo (i u tome, pretpostavljam, nema mnogo razlike između nas i vas), ali se ne možemo pretvarati da je prljava neophodnost uzvišena vrlina. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori5 nije jevrejski osećaj: jer nije slatko umreti ni za šta: ali ako za nešto moramo umreti, umrećemo.

Takođe, mi ne veličamo ratnika kao ratnika, nasuprot našim povremenim pojedinačnim zastranjivanjima od ovog stava. Ako moj brat poludi i napadne me, i ja ga moram ubiti u samoodbrani, kako mogu biti srećan zbog toga? To je brutalan i mizeran posao, i potrebno je da se završi što pre, i zaboravi što pre. Ovo je u osnovi jevrejski stav prema ratu i ratnicima. U Bibliji nisam našao nikakvo oduševljenje ratom i ratnicima. Naše slavlje u pobedi nije veličanje ratnika, nego samo žestoka sreća što smo preživeli. Borili smo se sa gorčinom, osvetnički, sa namerom da ubijemo: i naš Bog je bio Bog rata. Ali bez obzira, što se nas tiče, kakvi smo danas, znam sa potpunom sigurnošću da svesni Jevrej, Jevrej prožet jevrejskim životom, prezire ratnika kao takvog, gnuša se rata: i iako je on u stanju umreti za svoju veru kao i bilo ko drugi, odbija da napravi veseli ritual od borbe.

Jer kad vi neznabošci tvrdite da se gnušate rata, vi ustvari varate sebe. Rat je najuzvišeniji od svih sportova i time najdublje obožavan. Da li vi žalite kada morate u borbu? Da li vam nacija pada u očaj kada se rat objavi? Da li možda ispitujete vaša srca pažljivo, nemilosrdno, ne biste li otkrili da niste slučajno sami krivi što ta monstruozna stvar mora da se dogodi? Da li vas prožme drhtaj strave: ”Možda smo mi krivi”? Da li krećete na zadatak odbrane ili napada mračni, sa grozom i gorčinom? Ne, vi dižete vaše najlepše zastave, puštate veselu muziku, vaša krv teče ubrzano i srećno, vaša lica se razvedre, a oči zasijaju. Veličanstveni nadolazak snage prati ovo bacanje ili prihvatanje izazivačke rukavice. S kraja na kraj zemlje, vesti se šire, i svaki hrabar čovek i žena, svaki čovek i žena ”crvene krvi”, žudi za učešćem.

Moram jasno da kažem da ne mislim da ste svi vi ovakvi heroji ratnici. Nema sumnje da su milioni vas u svakoj državi nerado išli u rat. Ali ovo nije suprotno mom uverenju. To samo znači da milioni nisu sposobni da dostignu idealni moral koji vi negujete. Ali čak se i najveća kukavica, i najnevoljniji regrut, igra u svojim emocijama sa avanturama i trijumfima rata. Ja u ovoj knjizi govorim o idealima kojima vi težite i iz kojih izvlačite vašu moralnu inspiraciju. I sigurno je da vam je sam rat, nezavisno od svih ciljeva i opravdanja, osnovna potreba: a objava rata dugo čekani signal oslobađanja, pozdravljan sa ekstravagantnom i histeričnom radošću. Nije ljubav prema zemlji to što pokreće ovu navalu radosti, nego borba, sportska slava, igra, veličanstvenost najvećeg od svih takmičenja.

Ponavljam, bistriji su oni među vama koji su otvoreno tvrdili da je rat prirodni cilj kraljeva i otmenih ljudi. Oni najveći od vas, oni koji imaju najviše života u sebi, najuzvišeniji, su više od svih posvećeni vašem načinu života. Shodno tome, najniži od vas su smatrani nedovoljno vrednim za pristup sjajnom društvu ratnika. Prostak se ne sme usuditi da želi status ratnika. I danas, baš kao i u stara vremena, vi gajite samo prezir (koji se ispoljava u svom punom intenzitetu u vremenu rata) prema istinskim mirotovorcima. Vaša priroda je danas ista kao i pre hiljadu godina. ”U mračnoj svojeglavosti britanskog ratnika još uvek opstaje prećutna jarost skandinavskog Berzerkera6”. I uzaludni su, besplodni i neozbiljni, svi napori da se obuzda i uguši najekstremniji i najnegovaniji izraz vaših prirodnih instinkta.

Ali u ratu, kao i u svim drugim životnim igrama, vi zadovoljavate vaš moral time što primenjujete i držite se zapanjujuće preciznosti. Ubiti na takav način vas ostavlja nedirnute i čiste: ali ubiti na neki drugi način nije gospodski. U ponekim od tih finih detalja u ponašanju u ratu i duelima, može da se krije neki stvarni moralni značaj. Ali nas zapanjuje da u toj primeni preciznih pravila vi nalazite dovoljno pravednosti da potpuno smirite svoju savest.

Da se vi zaista brinete za pravdu i nepravdu umesto za sportsku ”pravu stvar” ili čast, kakva bi samo poplava užasa, sažaljenja i klonulosti pratila svaki od vaših ratova: sa kakvom biste samo neobuzdanom žurbom trčali da se međusobno utešite; sa kakvim biste potresima moralnog užasa analizirali iznova i iznova katastrofalno ludilo iz kojeg ste upravo izašli. Blagi Bože! Upravo se poubijali desetine, stotine hiljada ljudi, očeva i sinova: u ljutom besu borbe vi ste ih sasekli, ugušili, udavili, iskasapili i oslepili. Bezbroj roditelja punih ljubavi, dece, prijatelja se bude noćima u znoju, iz košmara užasnih vizija krajnjeg očaja, iz nagomilanih jezivih agonija. A sada, kada je sve gotovo, trčite li u svoje crkve, uplakani, bacate li se pred noge sveštenika i pred oltar, užasnuti mišlju da su ubistva koja ste počinili možda mogla biti izbegnuta i da barem deo odgovornosti možda leži na vašim plećima? Jer zasigurno, ako postoji čak i najbleđa mrlja krivice, najmanji trag ljage, zrno, nevidljiva pega, previd, trenutno nestrpljenje, ponos, nemar, zbog kog niste potpuno, potpuno i potpuno nevini, tada vam je zaista neophodno svo Božije Saosećanje i svo bezgranično Božije opraštanje.

Ali vaši ratovi nisu nikada ni prestali, jer istorija ih zapisuje, i to sa istom onom navalom ponosa i drskosti sa kojim su i započeti. Da li se ikada Te Deum pretvorio u krik Mea culpa? Da li je ikada rat ušao u istoriju drugačije nego kao slavna avantura, slavna u pobedi i slavna u propasti? A čak i ako se, nakon stotinu godina, neki istoričar tu i tamo usudi da dirne u besprekornost vaših ciljeva makar i jednom jedinom verodostojnom sumnjom, da li je ikada to probudilo krivicu, makar i hiljadu puta slabiju od ponosa i sreće koji se javljaju uz sećanje na ratne podvige, koliko god daleki bili?

Upravo ste prošli kroz najdivljiji i najuniverzalniji od svih ratova. Pretražite dobro vaša pamćenja i vašu štampu. Gde je tiha poniznost, strahopoštovanje, drhtava užasnutost, koji su morali prekriti svet kada je objavljeno primirje? Zar niste odmah poslali predstavnike da se nagađaju i trampe, da optužuju i osuđuju? I iznad svega, da održe vaše nacionalno dostojanstvo! Pa kakvo dostojanstvo molim vas? Šta je ikome od vas ostalo od dostojanstva? Šta je ostalo od čestitosti bilo kome ko je učetvovao u besnim i bogohulnim pirovima ovih pet godina?

Vi mrzite rat? Besmislica; vi uživate u njemu. Ako se desi da u prolaznom umoru koji prati naporan trud malo zastanete da razmislite, vi se ne usuđujete da razmislite o korenima zla, da ne biste slučajno učinili ratove nemogućim. Vi se majete sa par propisa, zakona o bojnim otrovima, pravila o Flammenwerfer7, naoružanim ili nenaoružanim brodovima i sličnim uzaludnim tričarijama. Vi jedni druge nazivate ”nesportskim”, a dan kasnije ste spremni, ako se ukaže prilika, da se ponovo otisnete u isti uzbudljivi poduhvat.

Pa ipak, tvrdim, sa svim ovim, da vi nikada ne možete biti krivi u svojim očima - niti jedan od vas. Osuda može doći samo od nekoga koji ne deli vaš moral. Vas savest ne može da peče, jer vi niste uradili ništa loše. Rat je glavni simbol vašeg života, pravi i pobednički izraz vaših instinkta. Zato, šta god crkva i religija propovedala u periodima između borbi, vi se sećate svih vaših ratova sa čežnjivim ponosom, kao najvažnijih događaja u vašem postojanju. Sjaj i divota rata, i u piriremi, i u akciji i u prisećanju, u ritmu armija koje vežbaju, u bezumnom uzbuđenju borbe, u veličanstvenoj komemoraciji spomenika i pesama i raznih drugih motiva, to je cvet vaše civilizacije, kako materijalne, tako i duhovne. Ni u čemu vi niste toliko efikasni kao u ratu; ni u čemu tako istiniti prema sebi. Napete do krajnjih granica u ovoj strahovitoj igri, vaše sjajne sposobnosti nalaze potpuni i strastveni izraz. I ko god vas pod Božijim krovom prekori ili obeshrabruje, postaje vaš večni neprijatelj.

Ja nisam u stanju, dok govorim o ovoj temi, da preduzmem nalaženje odgovora na sve primedbe koje se javljaju čak i meni. Naravno, jednim delom, na neke od ovih primedbi nije ni moguće odgovoriti, i mislim da one same rađaju suprotne primedbe. Sa druge strane, one su uzaludne i besplodne. Ali dotičući neke od njih, možda mogu moj stav da učinim jasnijim. Podsećam se, na primer, da kad god je rat bio objavljen, mi Jevreji smo odgovorili na poziv jednako spremno kao i vi. Statistike (koje su prilično verodostojne u ovakvim uopštenim stvarima) ovo pokazuju. Ali ne verujem da mi to radimo iz istih motiva. Nas mnogi razlozi navode na to. Mi smo svuda, uglavnom, stranci. Osećaj inferiornosti u našem statusu vodi nas u ekstremne žrtve da bismo opravdali naše zahteve za jednakošću. I više od toga: nas Jevreje toliko često i snažno podsećaju, u svim liberalnim zemljama zasnovanim na ustavu, da bismo trebali biti zahvalni za dozvolu što tu živimo, da mi zbog toga razvijamo osećaj zahvalnosti koji je ne samo nesrazmeran nego povremeno i groteskan. Našu decu uče, godinu za godinom, u školama i drugde, da uvek uporede svoju trenutnu slobodu i ravnopravnost, sa ugnjetavanjem i gorčinom koja je bila okruženje njihovih roditelja drugde. Često ovaj kontrast, onakav kakav je oslikan u njihovoj mašti, ne odgovara realnosti. Ali bilo kako bilo, ova neprestana i snažna podsećanja stvaraju svoj efekat. Dete skoro poveruje da je Amerika postala ”sobodna zemlja” isključivo za dobrobit potlačenih stranaca, i umesto da prihvate američki sistem vladanja odmereno, sa pravim odnosom poštovanja i kriticizma, razviju potisnutu histeriju zahvalnosti. Ovo nije zdrav i prirodan osećaj. Deci ne bi trebalo nametati takve osećaje. A po pitanju doprinosa slobodi, mi Jevreji smo učinili jednako mnogo za oslobođenje čoveka kao bilo koji drugi narod. Ali Jevrej, ugnjetavan par ekselans, počinje da gleda na američku slobodu kao na ličnu uslugu. Nije ni čudo da će Jevrej da žuri da se bori za Ameriku. Pa ipak, nasuprot brojevima, i dalje postoji snažan utisak u inostranstvu da su Jevreji ”zakazali u svojoj dužnosti”, da su bili ”zabušanti”. Ovo osećanje se javlja iz instinktivnog priznavanja te razlike među nama. Mi Jevreji ne volimo borbu. Vi neznabošci volite. Povrh toga, zato što volite borbu, vi ste mnogo spretniji od nas u sakrivanju povremene odbojnosti prema borbi. Zaista, očigledno je da, što se više bojite da uzmete učešće u borbi, više ćete je veličati i idealizirati: dok Jevrej koji se boji, svom kukavičluku pridodaje još i stvarnu i otvorenu antipatiju.

Ali mimo ovoga, ne smemo zaboraviti da sa školama zapadnog sveta otvorenim za našu decu, vaš pogled na stvari biva postepeno utisnut u našu stranu psihologiju. U drugim delovima ove knjige pisaću o stvarnim i očiglednim uspesima vaših napora. Ali ovde samo ću primetiti da su jevrejska djeca u vašim školama upućena da osećaju da je ne voleti borbu znak kompletne inferiornosti. Odlučno da postane jednako vama, jevrejsko dete preduzima, često i uspešno, da promeni svoj stav i postane borbeno. Ali to je veštački uspeh. To što vi radite instinktom, ono radi iz osećaja obaveze. Ono se bori primoravajući se na to. Ono nema vaš prirodni dar i sklonost za borbu.

Naravno, dok ja pokušavam da ustanovim, između ostalih, i ovu razliku, reći ćete mi da je ”opasno generalizovati”. Interesantno je sa kojim konačnim sudom ova opšta teza treba da slomi onoga koji generalizuje. Pretpostavimo da je tačno da je opasno generalizovati: zar nisu mnoge neophodne stvari opasne, kao na primer rađanje dece ili kopanje uglja? Istina je ne manje istina samo zato što je opasna, tj. otvorena za zloupotrebu. Pa ipak, najozbiljnije istine se i mogu iskazati samo kao generalizacije. A ova najozbiljnija istina je jedna od takvih, ova suprotnost odnosa prema ratu između Jevreja i neznabošca. I dok god suprotnost postoji, biće jača od volje, jača od razuma. Dok smo god na suprotnim polovima, moraćemo da činimo stalne i izvanredne napore da se složimo jedni uz druge.


1 like a sport
2 osećajni vitez
3 Arsène Lupin: lik simpatičnog lopova u knjigama francuskog pisca Morisa Leblanka
4 A.J. Raffles: lik uglađenog lopova u knjigama engleskog pisca E.W. Hornunga 
5 Slatko i časno je umreti za domovinu
6 Berserker. Izvedeno od skandinavske (tj. Vikinške) reči: berserksgangr koja je označavala požudu za borbom, specifičnu opsesiju koja ih je obuzimala u trenucima (potencijalne) borbe.
7 Bacač plamena