Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968). rn The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
The Duties of Man
(Italian patriot and statesman, 18051872; the deliverer of his country here urges the deliverance of mankind)
WE improve with the improvement of Humanity; nor without the improvement of the whole can you hope that your own moral and material conditions will improve. Generally speaking, you cannot, even if you would, separate your life from that of Humanity; you live in it, by it, for it. Your souls, with the exception of the very few men of exceptional power, cannot free themselves from the influence of the elements amid which they exist, just as the body, however robust its constitution, cannot escape from the effects of corrupt air around it. How many of you have the strength of mind to bring up your sons to be wholly truthful, knowing that you are sending them forth to persecution in a country where tyrants and spies bid them conceal or deny two-thirds of their real opinions? How many of you resolve to educate them to despise wealth in a society where gold is the only power which obtains honors, influence, and respect, where indeed it is the only protection from the tyranny and insults of the powerful and their agents? Who is there among you who in pure love and with the best intentions in the world has not murmured to his dear ones in Italy, Do not trust men; the honest man should retire into himself and fly from public life; charity begins at home,—and such-like maxims, plainly immoral, but prompted by the general state of society? What mother is there among you who, although she belongs to a faith which adores the cross of Christ, the voluntary martyr for humanity, has not flung her arms around her son’s neck and striven to dissuade him from perilous attempts to benefit his brothers? And even if you had strength to teach the contrary, would not the whole of society, with its thousand voices, its thousand evil examples, destroy the effect of your words? Can you purify, elevate your own souls in an atmosphere of contamination and degradation?
And, to descend to your material conditions, do you think they can be lastingly ameliorated by anything but the amelioration of all? Millions of pounds are spent annually here in England, where I write, by private charity, for the relief of individuals who have fallen into want; yet want increases here every year, and charity to individuals has proved powerless to heal the evil—the necessity of collective organic remedies is more and more universally felt.…
There is no hope for you except in universal reform and in the brotherhood of all the peoples of Europe, and through Europe of all humanity. I charge you then, O my brothers, by your duty and by your own interest, not to forget that your first duties—duties without fulfilling which you cannot hope to fulfil those owed to family and country—are to Humanity. Let your words and your actions be for all, since God is for all, in His Love and in His Law. In whatever land you may be, wherever a man is fighting for right, for justice, for truth, there is your brother; wherever a man suffers through the oppression of error, of injustice, of tyranny, there is your brother. Free men and slaves, YOU ARE ALL BROTHERS.