Theodore Roosevelt

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Notice the current relevance of Teddy's words.

From the book, Fear God and Take Your Own Part by Theodore Roosevelt, New York, George H. Doran Company, copyright 1915 by Theodore Roosevelt

Chapter 1 - Fear God and Take Your Own Part

p 55, 56
Let this nation fear God and take its own part. Let it scorn to do wrong to great or small. Let it exercise patience and charity toward all other peoples, and yet at whatever cost unflinchingly stand for the right when the right is menaced by the might which backs wrong. Let it furthermore remember that the only way in which successfully to oppose wrong which is backed by might is to put over against it right which is backed by might. Wanton or unjust war is an abhorrent evil. But there are even worse evils. Until, as a nation, we learn to put honor and duty above safety, and to encounter any hazard with stern joy rather than fail in our obligations to ourselves and others, it is mere folly to talk of entering into leagues for world peace or into any other movements of like character. The only kind of peace worth having is the peace of righteousness and justice; the only nation that can serve other nations is the strong and valiant nation; and the only great international policies worth considering are those whose upholders believe in them strongly enough to fight for them. The Monroe Doctrine is as strong as the United States navy, and no stronger. A nation is utterly contemptible if it will not fight in its own defence. A nation is not wholly admirable unless in time of stress it will go to war for a great ideal wholly unconnected with its immediate material interest.

Chapter V. International Duty and Hyphenated Americanism

p. 146,147
An American who is loyal to this great American nation has two duties, and only two in international matters. In the first place, he is bound to serve the honor and the interest of the United States. in the second place, he is bound to treat all other nations in accordance with their conduct at any given time, and in accordance with the ultimate needs of mankind at large; and not in accordance with the interests of the European nation from which some or all of his ancestors have come. If he does not act along these lines, he is derelict in his duty to his fellow-citizens and he is guilty of betraying the interests of his country.

Chapter VI - Peace Insurance by Preparedness Against War

p. 196,197
Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa, in addition to being rent asunder among themselves by bitter sectarian animosities--and sectarian intolerance and animosity stand for most that is evil in Christianity--had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, and on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over, the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan, and the Christian religion would be exterminated. Wherever the Mohammedans have had complete sway, wherever the Christians have been unable to resist them by the sword, Christianity has ultimately disappeared. From the hammer of Charles Martel to the sword of Sobieski, Christianity owed its safety in Europe to the fact that it was able to show that it could and would fight as well as the Mohammedan aggressor.

Chapter VII - Uncle Sam's Only Friend Is Uncle Sam

p. 208,209
Failure to perform duty to others is merely aggravated by failure to perform duty to ourselves. To pay twenty-five million dollars blackmail to Colombia does not atone for our timid refusal to do our duty by Belgium. It merely aggravates it. Moreover, it should always be remembered that in these matters the weak cannot be helped by the weak; that the brutal wrongdoer cannot be checked by the coward or by the fat, boastful, soft creature who does not take the trouble to make himself fit to enforce his words by his deeds. Preparedness means forethought, effort, trouble, labor. Therefore soft men, selfish, indolent men, men absorbed in money-getting, and the great mass of well-meaning men who shrink from performing the new duties created by new needs, eagerly welcome a political leader who will comfort them, and relieve their secret sense of shame, by using high-sounding names to describe their shortcomings.

An adroit politician can unquestionably gain many votes in such fashion, if he exalts unpreparedness as a duty, if he praises peace and advocates neutrality, as both in themselves moral --even although the "peace" and "neutrality" may be conditioned on the failure to do our duty either to others or to ourselves. Such a politician, if he excels in the use of high-sounding words, may win votes and gain office by thus pandering to men who wish to hear their selfishness, their short-sightedness or their timidity exalted into virtues. But he is sapping the moral vitality of the people whom he misleads.

Chapter XII - Conclusion

p. 343
Fear God and take your own part! This is another way of saying that a nation must have power and will for self-sacrifice and also power and will for self-protection. There must be both unselfishness and self-expression, each to supplement the other, neither wholly good without the other. The nation must be willing to stand disinterestedly for a lofty ideal and yet it must also be able to insist that its own rights be heeded by others. Evil will come if it does not possess the will and the power for unselfish action on behalf of non-utilitarian ideals and also the self-discipline. It must possess those high and stern qualities of soul which will enable it to conquer softness and weakness and timidity and train itself to subordinate momentary pleasure, momentary profit, momentary safety to the larger future.