On my Recommended Catholic Reading list in the right hand column of this blog is a link for a book called Man: The Forgotten by Frank J. Sheed.
Frank J. Sheed; Photographer, Unknown
The title is a philosophic pun on the “forgotten man” theme of the 1930s. But Sheed’s book was a 1942 vade mecum — a take-along book for young members of the Allied military fighting against the Axis — published by the wartime National Catholic Community Services branch of the USO.
Man: the Forgotten is an amazing, short reflection on the difference between the Christian view of humanity vs. that of the Fascist (and other statist) movements. Thousands of young people carried this book to war as a “what we are fighting for” book. If you check my link for this book on the right of this S&SJ blog, you can connect to the Google book listing for Man: The Forgotten, now a rare item, although some libraries still have it. At the bottom of the Google Books listings, you can Provide Feedback, and ask Google to hunt down a book and publish it online.
I promised to publish a few quotes from Man: the Forgotten:
“The really practical man is the man who, when something needs to be done, refuses to lift a finger until he has done as much thinking as the problem requires.” (p. 7)
“We cannot settle this matter [the difference between Hitler’s view of man and ours] by reason or by argument. We can only hurl high explosive at each other. Whichever of us has some high explosive left at the end will win the war: but he will not have won the argument: there will not even have been an argument: an exchnage of prejudices is no more an argument than an exchange of high explosive. I have said that we might win the war and yet be unable to win the argument. But if–through not clearly understanding what man is–we cannot win the argument, then we cannot win the peace: for a social structure built upon a false view of man cannot endure.” (p. 16)
“But two such groups are more important than all others in the natural order, and provide a natural framework of life in which others must find their place. These two are the Family and the State.
Of these two the Family is primary. To the State belongs the job of seeing that human life is organized; to the Family belongs the job of seeing that human life continues.” (p. 28)
“Society is concerned with the earthly life of men: but in its arrangements for this life it must never forget what men are (for such forgetfulness could involve it in treating men what they are not, which would be folly); nor must it forget that this earthly life itself has a further goal (for that would mean treating this life as what it is not–treating a road as a destination–and that too would be folly).” (p. 30)
“If a man tries to kill me, I have a right to resist him; if a man tries to kill some other person, I have a duty to resist him. . . . Evil must be resisted or the world becomes chaos. But here comes the appallingly difficult Christian paradox. The worst of criminals, the most brutal of aggressors, remains, in Christ’s sense, our neighbor. We have to resist him, if he violates the laws of God to the harm of other people. We may even have to kill him–by judicial means if he is a private criminal, in battle if he is in the army of the aggressor. But we must not cease to love him, for all men are our neighbours.” (pp. 38-39)
Sheed contrasted four of Hitler’s views with those of the Christian:
Hitler (1): “I will create a violently active, intrepid, brutal youth before whom the world will shrink back.” (p. 45)
Sheed: “Just as our consideration of man’s nature shows that man wrongs himself is he acts brutally, so it shows that he is wronged if he is treated brutally. To exult in being the kind of man ‘before whom the world will shrink back’ is to show a total unawareness of the likeness of nature between the man who acts the brute and the man he wants to see shrinking before him. In fact, all men were made by God. How dare any man made by God maltreat some other man made by God? Yet this, too, is true: the damage the brute-man does to the victim is not as great as the damage he does to himself. For he has lied in his own soul.” (p. 46)
“(2) Hitler teaches that there is no moral authority higher than the Nation and no Moral Law except what the Nation wills for its own good.”
Sheed: “God has already made the man before Hitler can get at him; so Hitler can only do with him what can be done with that kind of being. He cannot make man. Though he can, of course, destroy him.” (pp. 47-48)
(3) “Hitler teaches that the individual has no rights whatever against the Nation.”
Sheed: “Society exists solely to help man to be more completely man.” (p. 48)
(4) “Hitler teaches that the German people is superior to all other peoples, and has a right to dominate them.”
Sheed: “To arrive at what man is, which has been our object all through, we simply considered man: not rich man, white man, civilized man, Aryan man or German man. All those adjectives are simply adjectives. None of them alters the meaning of the word ‘man.’ The nature of man and the rights of man are already established before we consider whatever may be added by being rich, white, civilized, Aryan or German. And whatever we have found to be true of the nature of man and the goal of man, and the values and the rights of man flowing from that nature and that goal, applies equally to the poor man, the Negro, the savage, the Jew, and all races whatsoever. Man is a worldwide pehonomen.” (p. 51)
Sheed then offered a series of tests “which may be applied to any human arrangement to see whether it is in accord with the nature of man, that is with reality.”
“(1) Does it acknowledge the moral law as something superior to itself, something by which it is willing to be tested, something which must not ever be infringed? . . . (p. 55)
(2) Does it treat Men as Men? That is, is it aware of the nature of Man and of rights rooted in that nature, which no one can infringe and which the whole effort of society is bent towards supplying? . . . (p. 56)
(3) Does it provide the fullest development for men as men? . . . Does it give men, as far as possible, the responsibility for handling their own lives, and thus the opportunity to develop responsibility and initiative–to develop, in fact, as men?
Sheed postscripts his book with a short consideration of how the further study of man is necessary “for the construction of Social Systems.” (p. 62)
Sheed then ends with “another consideration” —
“The closest study of Man and of the Social Techniques is still not enough. There is no space here to discuss Religion; but a Society will not be well-run, however skilled its members, unless their relation to God is right. Just as we could not have existed without God, so we cannot accomplish anything in His universe without Him. If the world is to be remade, He must be the principal agent in its remaking; and we shall win Him to that by living in accordance with His will and by praying to Him. One prayer expresses it perfectly:
Send forth Thy Spirit and our hearts shall be created
And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. (p. 62-63)
© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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