A MILLION CHUNGS
THE SERGEANT figured they must be nearing the exchange point. He thought it odd that Merke was still talking with Tsai, though it wasnít important, really.
"What you gonna do when the exchange is finished, Tsai?" Merke asked the chinaman. "With all the prisoners gone, youíll be out of a job."
"Oh, no." Tsai mustered a smile. "There is plenty to do for me. I do not worry about job; in communism is no"
"Yeah, I knowíno unemployment,í" Merke finished the propaganda line for him. "I still think you look worried, Tsai. Maybe youíre just unhappy because weíre all leaving."
"Oh, no." The little chinaman tried to brighten the smile. "I am very happy the war is ended and now we have peace and all go home."
But Tsai didnít look happy. He seemed to become more glum as they neared the exchange point. Could be, he was thinking of the future, and for him it didnít look very bright.
Back in the camp, Tsai had been a pretty big "wheel"mainly because he could talk with the prisoners so well. The friendship that some of the Americans had allowed themselves to develop with him may have become an important part of the little china- manís life; for in that element of communist society to which Tsai belonged, he had very few if any he could truly call friend.
Having no alternative other than complete slavery in some re- mote area, Tsai had chosen to lend his mind and talentsand he was talentedto the communist rulers. Now for him there could be no change. For the way of "cooperation" for the communist subject is much like "collaboration road" for the prisoner; once on it, he moves with the one-way traffic toward the end which is complete subjugation. But while the prisoner had a hope and a chancerepatriationTsai had none. If he were to stray from the path his masters set before him, he knew the end would be the concentration camp.
Nor could Tsai simply stop and go no farther, lest he be trampled by his own kind. To keep him and others like him from stopping in unison, there was always someone like Chung.
Chung had gotten off to a bad start with the prisoners. His job was that of interpreter, standing by the platoon leader at roll call to translate instructions. He couldnít speak English nearly so well as Tsai. Because of the peculiar inflections to many of his words, the prisoners sometimes laughed. In the beginning, they were laughing at the words, not the speaker; but seeing that Chung was disturbed by it, they came to laugh at him, too.
Chung tried hard to get in with the prisoners as Tsai had done. But the friendly overtures he made were obviously forced, where Tsaiís were natural. Only one prisoner took to Chung at all. That was a corporal, a buddy of Jowalís before either of them were captured, and of character similar to the noted progressive. His interest in Chung was for what he could get out of it; like Jowal, he had aspirations to a position of power. Chung and that corporal were very much alike.
Sergeant Wolfe recalled his one lengthy encounter with Chung. It happened one morning, as he was walking toward the quarters, he saw Chung enter the compound. Chung saw the Sergeant at about the same moment, and turned toward him. Sensing that the little interpreter wished to talk to him, the Sergeant hurried on toward the door.
"Wul-uf!" Chung called.
"Ohdamn!" the Sergeant said to himself. "The little bastard." He stopped just outside the door and waited. Bedamned if he would go to meet the little chink, anyway.
Wolfe was quite certain Chung just wanted to talk to someone. Heíd been doing that lately, taking a prisoner at a time to his own quarters just to talk for a couple of hours. The Sergeant wasnít afraid of Chung; it just was damned unpleasant to be around him.
"Wul-uf." Chung was beside him.
"What are you doing?"
"Getting ready to play some volley ball."
There was nobody out on the court. Chung probably figured no game was arranged yet. If he did, he was quite correct.
"You come with me now."
"To my room. We have talk."
"What about?" The Sergeant wished he could make Chung feel that a talk between them would be boring to them both.
"Just talk." Chung was trying to sound mysterious.
"We were going to have a volley ball game," the Sergeant said. "Itís a nice day for being outside."
"You have game later; now come with me."
There wasnít much point in arguing. Even if Chungís private interviews didnít have the sanction of the camp officials, theyíd back him in an issue about it, if only to save face. Either way, the Sergeant still would have to go talk with him. Best to go now and get it over with. Maybe he could find a way to cut it short.
Chungís room was about a hundred yards from the compound. As they walked, Chung tried to make small talk. The Sergeant didnít help him any. Though he didnít deliberately try to antagonize the little chinaman, neither did he attempt to conceal the way he felt.
Chungís room was in a Korean house. It was a typical L-shaped building with the kitchen in the joint of the L, so fires there could be built to warm either side. Chungís was the center of three rooms in one of the wings. It was warm and stuffy inside.
The room was cluttered. There were two crude and unkempt sleeping platforms. Chung must have a companion. Clothing and the various accoutrements of a Chinese communist soldier were in disorderly array on the bunks and the floor. Chung pushed things aside on the bunk to the right of the door.
"You sit here." The chinaman indicated the bunk with his hand as he spoke.
The Sergeant sat down.
There was an up-ended box between the bunks, serving as a table. On it, stacked and crowded against each other, were a chipped enamel teakettle, two bowls, two cups, and a Chinese magazine.
Chung picked up the kettle and shook it. "You like tea?" he asked.
"Yes, please." The Sergeant didnít particularly want any, but he knew the kettle was empty. Chung would have to go to the kitchen for hot water and that would give the prisoner opportunity to look around the room.
With Chung gone, the Sergeant made a critical examination. Without moving from the spot, in case someone might be peeking from another room, he took mental note of everything in sight. He considered taking a couple of things for future use but thought better of it. Even if no one were spying on him, this disarray could be a trap. Chung might have memorized the position of everything of importance. The whole thing might be a set-up for accusing the Sergeant of stealing.
From what Wolfe saw, he knew one thing for certain: Chung was a four-flusher. He had tried to make the prisoners believe that he was something more than an interpreter. Heíd told one of them he was an officer. The accoutrements scattered about proved quite conclusively that Chung was an enlisted man. He was enjoying a few privileges, perhaps by virtue of his ability to speak some English, but the belongings were definitely not those of a Chinese communist officer.
That was a clue to something else, toothe reason for these interviews. Chung was ambitious. Along with trying to give the impression that he was something more than he actually was, the fellow really wanted to be more. Perhaps in his small mind there was even a dream that someday in the distant future the songs about Mao Tse Tung would be re-written for Chung. For it is the dream of every aspirant to the ranks of the communist inner circle, that some day he shall control the destiny of the "masses." Chung wasnít really smart enough to be a communist "intellectual," but he was dumb enough to think that he was.
The Sergeant decided to ask Chung, if the opportunity came, whether he was a member of the party. It seemed obvious that the chinaman was not, but perhaps he would lie to a prisoner about it. Probably Chung, with his limited intellect, would never be a party member, but his masters would encourage him to keep trying. He would be more useful to the party as long as he aspired to membership, because thereíd be no limit to the things heíd be willing to do to achieve his aim.
Chung returned with the steaming kettle. He tossed the pulp magazine and the two bowls onto his already cluttered bed and set the kettle on the box. Clearing a place for himself on the other bunk, he sat facing the prisoner across the kettle and busied him- self making tea.
"You like tea?" Chung asked without looking up. He dropped the dry leaves in the kettle.
"Coffee would be better."
"Iím sorry, China has no coffeeonly tea." He placed the lid on the kettle and sat back, fumbling with the clutter to give himself more room. Changing the subject, he continued: "You play outside games very much. You like sports?"
"Nothiní else to do."
"Well, it is better for your health to take exercise."
They sat silent for a while. Chung seemed to be waiting for the prisoner to open the conversation. That was a trick the enemy often used, and many prisoners played right into it. Some people just couldnít stand silence. Could that be because they couldnít live with their own thoughts, or simply because they didnít have enough for company?
Wolfe decided Chung wasnít trying to act like an interrogator, but as an indoctrinator. He seemed to be searching for a way to get conversation started, and the Sergeant determined not to help him. Perhaps some of the prisoners Chung had brought to his room had been more talkative. Frye had been down a couple of days ago, and no doubt the youngster had opened up on Chung with a barrage of questions about the peace talks. The kid always did that when he had the chance to talk with any of the English-speaking chinamen. It was foolish to ask Chung about things. If he knew anything more than the prisoners did, he certainly wouldnít be permitted to tell it at his own discretion.
Chung lifted the lid of the kettle to look at the tea. Perhaps he felt a need to break the silence. As he put the lid back on the kettle he spoke. "The tea will be ready soon."
The Sergeant saw no need for comment.
"What do you think about?" Chung asked.
"That must be a different kind of tea than we have at our kitchen," the Sergeant said.
"Why do you say that?"
"Because it smells different."
"I mean why do you talk about tea instead of answering my question?"
"I did answer your question."
"You did not answer my question when I ask you what do you think about." Chung was almost indignant.
"Yes, I did. I told you I thought your tea smelled different than ours."
"But surely that is not what you think about," Chung said incredulously.
"Thatís what I was thinking about when you asked."
"Oh." Chung was relieved. He had thought the prisoner was stalling. "I meant what do you think about other times, in the compound," Chung explained.
"Oh, I see." The Sergeant hadnít misunderstood in the first place; he had been stalling. "Not much of anything, I guess," he said.
"You must think of something. Everybody thinks of something."
"Iím not much of a thinker."
"Are you afraid of thinking?" Chung was still searching for something.
"Iím just not much good at it. Is the tea ready? It smells good."
It was an aromatic tea, the Sergeant knew, and he had mentioned it only for the diversion. With the conversation broken, Chung would have to start again. The Chinaman poured and handed a cup across. The prisoner took it and held it in both hands until he saw the chinaman about to speak, then he raised the cup to his lips.
"Do you think about your home and family?" Chung asked over his steaming cup.
The Sergeant sipped his tea and weighed his answer. He brought the cup down into both hands again before speaking. "Do you think about yours?"
Wolfe was surprised at the effect of his words. Chung was visibly shaken. He brought his cup down quickly, sloshing a bit, and set it on the box. His hand was shaking.
"I have no family." The little chinaman spoke crisply and with finality.
Pressing the advantage, the Sergeant said, "What about your parents?"
"I have no parents."
Chung was badly disturbed, but he tried to conceal the fact. The prisoner was not supposed to ask the questions. But that wasnít all that was bothering him. There seemed to be something deeper in this matter, Wolfe thoughtósomething Chung didnít like to think about. Now it was the chinaman who was trying to break the chain of conversation. The Sergeant knew he had an advantage, and it was a rare pleasure to be able to turn the tables. There wasnít much chance of keeping the initiative long, so he fired another question quickly.
"You mean your parents are both dead?"
"I never had any parents."
"You never had any? You mean you never knew them?"
The Sergeant knew as soon as he finished it, that it wasnít a good question. For one thing, it was too long; for another, it was a double question requiring explanation. It gave Chung a chance to collect his wits.
"I never had any parents," Chung repeated. "Are your parents still living?"
"No," the Sergeant replied and cursed himself for letting the initiative slip away from him so soon. His answer was a lie. He didnít want to mention any relatives to the enemytoo much chance that some rotten communist in the States would be notified and start bothering his folks.
Chung sipped his tea. The prisoner did the same. With the spell broken, there would be no point in trying to ask the chinaman more questions now. The prisoner must settle back into the purely defensive role again. The Sergeant sensed no need for great concern about this interview, since Chung was a novice at the game. But he did feel the need of exercising normal caution and bringing the discussion to an end as soon as possible.
While they sat in silence, Wolfe thought about what Chung had said. He recalled a book in the compound "library" which glorified children who spied on their parents and revealed them as reac- tionary." The happy ending came with the child renouncing his father and mother completely and accepting the State in their stead. Could that be why Chung "never had any parents"?
"You like this tea?" Chung asked.
"Good as any."
"I know, you like coffee better. Iím sorry I have none."
The Sergeant made no comment. Both sipped.
"Do you wonder that the war doesnít end?" Chung asked.
"Nothing I can do about whether it ends or not." The others may have asked him a lot of questions, the Sergeant thought, and it bothers him that I donít. Good!
"Are you happy?"
"Then you are unhappy." It wasnít a question.
"No." The Sergeant answered it anyway.
Chung was surprised. He hadnít expected such an answer. "How can you be not happy and not unhappy?" he asked.
The prisoner shrugged and smiled slightly.
Noting the smile Chung said, "I donít see you smile often. It is better if you smile and be happy."
The smile disappeared. He saw no need for answering the remarks. If the chinamen thought he didnít smile often enough, that was good, too.
"Are you worried about something?" Chung asked.
"No." That was the truth. A mind busy with plans and free of apprehension doesnít worry much.
"You do want to go home, donít you?"
"Of course," Chung chuckled slightly. "That was a foolish question, wasnít it? Anyone would know that a prisoner would want to go home."
"Well, Iíll be damned," the Sergeant thought to himself. "So he does have an axe to grind. Maybe somebody else put him up to it. Pretty crude, but"
"Can you imagine any prisoner not wanting to go home?" Chung asked.
The present theme of the communist "news" was, "the UNís demand for so-called voluntary repatriation was in reality forcible retention of prisoners." Now, in his simple way, Chung was trying to get the Sergeant to agree indirectly that the UN stand was false by getting Wolfe to say that any prisoner, of either side, would certainly want to go home. The Sergeant had his answer ready.
"Sure I can!"
That was entirely unexpected. It caught Chung off balance, and he lost the initiative again. The chinaman thought for a while. The prisoner sipped tea.
"Why would anyone not want to go home?" Chung asked. "Who would not want to return home?" He was fumbling in the dark.
"Someone who didnít have anything worth going home to, and who had a chance to go to a better place by refusing repatriation." He didnít expect to convince Chung of anything; it was simply a matter of trying to keep the enemy off-balance and disturbed so this interview would end soon and not be repeated.
"Are there any you know in the compound who do not want to go home?"
Chung was trying hard, Wolfe thought. And to give him credit, he wasnít so stupid as some of the prisoners thought. He was smarter than some of the Americans, that was certain. The Sergeant would have to lie a little on this one. There was one fellow who had said if the communists offered him something "worth while," heíd stay. He had in mind a position of authority, with a house and woman provided him, and a bunch of coolies to shove around. Apparently the sneaky bastard hadnít discussed his terms with Chung, but heíd been frank enough about it in front of other prisoners.
"Of course not," the Sergeant replied to Chungís question. "Any American would want to go home because the communists can offer nothing nearly so good as the living standards and conditions in America."
Perhaps he shouldnít have said that much. It gave Chung an idea. Here at last was something for the propaganda line to fit into.
"If I could tell you a place for you to go where you would have a better life than in America, would you go?" Chung asked.
"Sure, if you could prove it." He knew what was coming next.
"There is a place with much higher living standards and better life than America."
"Not in any communist country," the Sergeant asserted. He poured himself a little more tea.
"Yes there is! Russia!" The gleam in Chungís eye was warning that he was getting fired up for a spiel. The Sergeant didnít want that to happen; the spiels were so time-consuming and boring. It would be a mistake to ask what there was in Russia.
"You ever been in Russia?" he asked the chinaman.
"Yes, I have been!" Chung replied enthusiastically. He took a deep breath.
"You ever been in America?" The Sergeant shot the question in fast, to keep the chinaman from launching into the lecture. Chung may have been telling the truth about having been in Russia; then again he may not have been. It didnít particularly matter.
"No, but I have studied. In"
"You cannot compare unless you have seen," the prisoner interrupted.
"In Russia," the chinaman began, determined to give his lecture, "there is a higher living standard than in America. They have better houses, better automobiles, better"
"We cannot compare those things you mention, because we have none of them here," the prisoner interrupted firmly. "But I can show you things made in America that are better than those made in Russia."
With a trained enemy indoctrinator, the Sergeant would not have been doing this. But Chung did not have the complete immunity to logic that the experienced indoctrinator possessed. So, because Chung was affected by his statements, the Sergeantís greater knowledge and experience more than balanced the other factors that were in the interpreterís favor. The chinaman was puzzled.
"You can show me? Here, you can show me?"
"What do you have here from America, and from Russia?"
"I donít have. You do."
"I have? ĎWhat?"
The Sergeant pointed behind Chung on the bunk. "Those maga- zines," he said.
On Chungís bunk were several Russian magazines. They were the top grade Russian publications in the camp. With them was a copy of Masses and Mainstream, one of the United States communist propaganda publications included in the prisonerís "library." In comparison with the Russian pulp, the better quality of the paper, printing, and binding of the magazine from the United States looked refined. Chung picked the two up in his hands and looked at them. The difference was indisputable.
The Sergeant reached across and touched the Russian publication. "That," he said, "is the best quality of the Russian magazines in our library. This"he touched the copy of Masses and Mainstream"in America is considered low-grade paper and printing." He picked up his cup and held it to his lips while watching Chung.
"This is not the best in Russia, either," Chung said defensively. He had recovered well, thought Wolfe. Give him credit for that.
The Sergeant brought his cup down and said nothing. There might very well be better material than that in Russia. It didnít matter; heíd made his point.
"Are you finished with your tea?" Chung asked. "Perhaps you are tired of talking now and would like to play volley ball." Chung was trying to save face, and that didnít matter either. A fellow couldnít expect to achieve more of a victory over one of the enemy than thisjust getting the thing over with.
"Nice going, Chung," the Sergeant thought. "Youíve got at least one of the attributes of a successful communist; youíre a good weaseler." Aloud he said, "Yes, Iím finished, thank you."
As they walked back to the compound, Chung said: "Do you feel bad because we argue in our talk?"
"No." It was true; he didnít.
"It was good to talk with you, even if we donít agree."
Wolfe doubted if Chung meant that; he knew he didnít feel that way about it himself. There was no need for reply.
As Chung passed him by the guard, through the gate, the little chinaman said, "Maybe we will have a talk again sometime."
"I guess Iíll be around where you can find me."
Reflecting on it now as he rode to freedom, the Sergeant remembered he hadnít fooled himself into thinking he had disturbed Chungís convictions on the matter of who was right or wrong in this war, or on any other subject. That hadnít been the object. Neither did he consider it a great achievement to get the better of one particular chinaman in such a discussion. Chungís lack of experience had made it an unequal contest. What was more important was whether the Sergeant had learned anything from it himself.
One thing for certainthough Chung was definitely not as Intelligent as he liked to think, he was smarter than many of the prisoners who called him stupid. But there was something else about him that made him dangerousperhaps more dangerous than if he had been intelligent.
It was hard to figure that peculiar characteristic in Chung. The Sergeant had met a lot of Chinese during his tour of duty in China some years back, and he thought heíd encountered just about all types. He knew enough about oriental philosophy to be aware there was a great deal more he didnít know. You didnít have to understand a type to recognize it, though; and Chung was a kind of chinaman the Sergeant had never seen in China.
Might this type be the product of the "New China," as the com- munist Chinese liked to call the country now? It could be the result of the inhuman communist experiment of totalitarian "education"the removal of the infant from its motherís arms to be reared as a "child of the state." For this purpose, it was necessary for family ties to be completely severed, and the mental and spiritual severance was even more important than the physical. The removal of the child from parental devotion and guidance in one quick stroke obliterated for all time the centuries of tradition, wisdom, and philosophy which were his birthright. Then, at a state institution, in the void that remained were placed the false principles and ideals of communismand disdain and hatred for everything else.
Call them stupid, dupes, or fools, these children of the communist state in their own minds were right, and it was you who did not understand. In their false righteousness was conviction, which carried with it a potent quality of courage and determination. Even though the conviction was based on lies, the courage it bore was as unbending, only not so enduring, as Ghantís courage born of Faith in God. And as long as the communist masters could keep those fools convinced their destiny was to save the world, the Chungs would possess the fervor and courage of crusaders.
The likes of Chung were tremendously useful in the communist scheme of thingsuseful in directing the myriads of innocent beings who existed within the communist sphereóthe completely resigned or subdued. The Sergeant thought of poor little devils like the soldiers near the slave camphonest, sincere children who had never grown up, and would not be permitted to. They had been genuinely sorry for the prisoners; but not questioning their own destiny as the toilers, while others did the thinking, they accepted the fate of the prisoners as being as much beyond hope as their own.
The Chungs served still another purpose. They kept the ones like Tsai in line. Tsai, though obviously more intelligent than Chung, had good reason to fear him. Tsai belonged to that element in the communist society which was well aware of much of the falsity in the utopian picture. But Tsai was also aware that there was only one alternative to cooperation with his masters, and that was to be branded "reactionary." With the constant threat that someone like Chung might point an accusing finger, Tsai must live. Tsai didnít have much of a choice. As a reactionary he would be no longer one of the "people," but an outcast sent to complete slavery in some remote "communist education center." Small wonder, the Sergeant thought, that Tsai chose to follow the age-old philosophy: "The Chinese must be as the grass which bends to the wind!"
And what was the wind to which the Tsais had to bend now? The communist intellectual. These were not simple, misguided fools seeing themselves as mental giants saving humanity from all manner of ills, imagined and real. They were men of truly high intelligence who, somehow lacking in humanness and morality, had an insatiable lust for power over fellow-man. It was this lust which made possible the ruthless tactics they employed to keep the "masses" under their spell. Unrestrained by obligation to moral principles, they would go to any extreme of inhumanity and baseness. But although their unprincipled power seemed irrevocable to those subject to it, it carried with it its own weakness. Within the ruling circle devotion was to power itself, not to the administrators of it. Vying among themselves for the supreme position, the members of the inner circle felt toward one another envy, jealousy, and fear.
Well, then, it might happen that, once Mao of China was established in his own right, lust for unlimited power might make him follow the course of Tito of Yugoslavia and declare himself independent of the Kremlin. But such an event would not be a victory for freedom, nor an appreciable lessening of the combined threat of the Big Lies. When the slave remains a slave, a change of masters makes no difference.
So the Sergeant could find no solace in the thought that there might come a time when the "yellow-red" of China would parallel or even dominate the "black-red" of Russia. For even if the hub of communism were transferred from Moscow to Peking, the threat to freedom would by no means be lessened. Such an occurrence might even increase the threat, because of the centuries of philosophy and wisdom at Maoís disposal. His perversion of that wisdom made it easier for Mao to exploit his power. He could execute the industrialist as an oppressor of the workers and still use the factory and the tools. He could send millions of his countrymen to slave labor and death, and justify the act to others by declaring that those so disposed of were not "people" but degenerate animal creatures who did not "believe." He could exploit the sense of fairness of free nations and at the same time denounce them as unjust. He could use the wisdom of Confucius to his own purpose, while he denied his subjects its benefits by declaring that the Father of Oriental Wisdom was an "enemy of the people."
Yet therein lay another of the weaknesses. Mao had to keep the age-old Chinese wisdom from his slaves, lest they see the falsity of his premises and rise against him. True wisdom, like any real truth, is difficult to suppress.
Still, a Chinese might succeed where a Russian would fail. For with his wisdom superior to that of his neighbor to the north and west, Mao did not flaunt his power before his own people so flagrantly as did Stalin, and now Malenkov, or whoever Stalinís real successor might come to be. Mao practiced more nearly what he preached. He made himself appear "one of the people," so that he could keep the dupes better duped. While the Russian leaders openly rewarded themselves with luxuries beyond the dreams of their subjects, Mao, with a philosophy superior to theirs, could find satisfaction in the feeling of power alone. To help him retain that power, he had the likes of Chung.
Already there might be a million Chungs, and millions more in the offing. Each of them, with their simple devotion to the "big lie" and hatred for all else, needed nothing more than the iron-fisted authority vested in them by their masters to control a score or more of their less gullible countrymen. They needed no more intelligence than that one Chung, nor even as much. If the formula was simple, so could be the tools that implemented it. The formula was "cooperate or die in abject slavery"! Beleaguered millions, neither having anything nor knowing anything worth dying for, cooperated in order that they might live to seek a reason. And for those who sought no reason, perhaps it was better to die for a false cause, than to live for no purpose at all.
Only when you knew the enemy and recognized the basis of his strength were you fully aware of his potential, Wolfe decided. Only then did it become clear that undeterred the communist menace would become stronger. But by full admission of the enemyís strength you could gain also an undistorted view of his weakness. With such knowledge you could thrust at him where he was most vulnerable.
Still, you had to thrust with proper weapons. More than guns, bullets, and bombs were needed to subdue the self-righteous moral strength of communism. There had to be an equalno, greater conviction in those who met the physical force of the enemy. And there had to be intelligent understanding, patience, and perseverance when efforts were made to unseat the false, dictated convictions in misguided minds, giving them the chance to seek truth outside the spell cast by their masters.
Suppression was not the answer. For as the true morality of Christianity flourished and grew under suppression, so could the false morality of communism. The weakness of the communist faith lay in the fact that it could not, when clearly revealed, endure in a mind that was free. So, when the false conviction of communism was uprooted and exposed to light, not only the conviction, but also the courage and power born of it, would die.
The true Faith, rooted in a Power beyond the strength of all men, because of its truth could never die.
Yet there were some in America today who said, "Fight fire with fire," proposing measures of force and suppression exceeding those of the Kremlin. "The end justifies the means," said the communists, and there were those who would have America follow the same principle in retaliation.
If a forest blazes, mused Wolfe, you may burn a swath in the path of the conflagration to save the timber beyond. But when it is your own house afire, if you set another fire within it you only hasten its destruction.
So it would be if we were to employ totalitarian methods against communism. The successful wielders of that implement of defense would in turn posses the very power over land and populace that the defeated enemy had sought. No matter that it be under a name other than communism, it would still be a hapless society of masters and slaves"intelligentsia" and "masses."
Here then, was Americaís problemto ensure herself a permanent position of influence in the societies of a free world, with continued respect and prestige to match her power. It was by no means a simple task, and those who sought an "easy" way would fail.
All the material wealth of a great nation was not in itself enough for lasting power. Though material might was needed to discourage or repel the physical forces of evil from without, there still had to be selfless courage and integrity in the wielders of that might.
The evil within had to be recognized as well as the evil without. And here Freedom had to rely on less tangible defensesselflessness, moral integrity, and humility before the Supreme Power engrained in the nation as well as in the individual.
For a society was like an individual within it. When it rested on laurels of the past, it weakened, died, and was largely forgotten. Man became immortal only as he reflected some quality of God. He who attempted to establish himself as the "Supreme," eventually would fall before the Almighty. History showed that this was true, both of men and nations.
The moral potential, of a nation or the world, lay in youth. But whether youthís morality would be true or false, depended largely on the guidance of elders. All youth was strength, but not all age was wisdom. Youth made up the ten thousand in the rally song, "Ten Thousand Men," but it was from age that the "first ten" had to be drawn. Those ten had to be selected with infinite care, for age could also be selfishness and greed, indulgence, materialism, and lust for power.
By what standards, then, shall the selection be made? The Sergeant looked about the truck in which he and his fellow-Americans rode. In all honorable fields of endeavorópolitics, science, education, the military, or whateverthe qualifications for leadership were the same. Where weaknesses appeared they had to be weeded out. For Shillerís seffish opportunism, substitute the integrity of Emmett. Discard the disgraceful cowardice of Bender for the courage and determination of Kert. And in the stead of Wendonís pitiable weakness, let stand Ghantís undying Faith in God.
A worthy thing, hard won, deserved protection. And the nature of man was such that the preservation of Freedom demanded constant vigilance. Yet no more was required of the "guardians" of Freedom than had been required of its "winners"only as much. Those who served in the armed bastions of defense needed no more courage than those who had fought and died in the battles for Freedomonly as much. Those who guarded against forces of evil within needed nothing more than the selfless integrity of the founders of Liberty. Only as much! But in any battle, of words or swords, if the principles which constituted Freedom were lost, victory, if one could rightly call the outcome that, would be empty, for so would be the men who had achieved it.
© 2002, 2003 by Lynn Waterman; used by permission of the author, Duane Thorin.