THE MICHIGAN DAILY
rioted from the Daily Express, London, England, 11th Feb. 1963
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ONCE UPON A TIME in a far country where many.rulers. Some
were good, some not so good. They ruled for years and years
and years. They had ruled so long that people forgot how they
came to rule. Some said they had been chosen; others that
they had chosen themselves; others that they had just happened-
like small-pox or the weather.
They took turns to rule. Sometimes they wore red britches, some-
times yellow, sometimes blue. Sometimes they wore kilts of many
colours to show they believed in a bit of everything, were tolerant,
imperturbable and with the shrewdness that says little in many words
because words are cheap (except in paid advertisement) and they
had little to say.
But the colour of britches made small difference to people, be-
cause rulers agreed that money was the main thing, that cash was
more important than conscience and that a nation with big bellies
and big bombs was secure and content.
One ruler muttered to another, "Give every man a thousand
pounds, a TV set, and a mistress-then they'll be happy."
So as time went on they built a society where men had more
money, machines, mistresses than before-but not everyone was happy.
A MAN LIVED IN THAT FAR COUNTRY. He was so old that some
said he had been born centuries before, with a heart so fresh that he
seemed always young. He was. angular and inconvenient. He said
that what went on beneath britches was more important than their
colour. He believed in absolute standards of honesty, purity, unselfish-
ness, and love. He said right was right, wrong was wrong, that a grey
outlook on morality was the mark of old Nick. He stood on a tub and
shouted, "Men must choose to be governed by God or they condemn
themselves-and others-to be ruled by tyrants. We need to have the
country governed by men governed by God."
Crowds gathered. Many began to listen to the man. Some rulers
understood him. They stood at his side come thunder, come sunshine,
and humbly, hopefully played their part in remaking the world. Our
children will rise up and call such blessed.
One far-sighted ruler, the Earl of Athlone, wrote in a letter to
The Times, "The choice is Moral Re-Armament or national decay."
Another, the fourth Marquess of Salisbury, said in the House of Lords,
"The cause of the world's state is not economic. It is moral. It is
there where the evil lies. What you want are God-guided personalities,
which make God-guided nationalities, to make a new world." Another,
Ben Tillett, who had led the dockers in their fight for social justice,
said, "You have a great international movement. Use it. It is the hope
of tomorrow. It will bring back sanity, to the world."
Some squatted on the fence. They were too cautious to be against
the man, but too fearful to be for him.
Other rulers got angry. They thought that men like that who
-become popular have to be squashed or squared. One ruler with a big
brain and bank balance said at a Cabinet meeting, "This is dangerous.
We cannot have two governments in this country." By which he
meant that if rulers like himself started to be governed by God, it
would bring change to private as well as public life. He was right.
A proclamation was made-"You never had so much of what
you wanted." All people shouted and clapped their hands. But the
man on his tub said, "This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly,
that said in her heart, 'I can do as I like. God is out of date. There
is nobody as good or wise as me.' If this goes on much longer she
will become a place for beasts and everyone that passes by will hiss
and wag his head."
Some of the rulers chuckled and said, "Got him!" They spread
the word around that the man was no patriot, but someone who
fouled his nest and attacked his country. Some people, who believed
anything they heard from the Establishment and loved human praise
and popularity more than God's will and way, began to throw mud
and stones at the man. He kept cheerful and remarked, "I am more
of a patriot than they. I want to clean up mess, not pretend foul is
fair. Impurity is not patriotism. And when rulers talk about United
Europe and United Nations and United S.A. and United S.S.R. and
United K., how can you love and unite the world if you do not love
your own country and Commonwealth enough to unite them first?
Men like this preach unity and create division.".
This was plain and hard. So a posse of rulers came secretly to
the man carrying a bag of gold and a big stick. They said, "Look here,
man. It's a great work you are doing. But it's too American. It's not
the way we do things here. Leave out the world absolute from your
standards. Tone it down a bit. Do it like some churchy folk. Then
we will praise you, give you money, even put your name in the New
Year's Honours- List." They shook the bag of gold in front of him till
coins jingled. The man sat on his tub writing in a book, saying nothing.
"What -are you thinking about?" asked one ruler.
"Thinking what asses you are to suggest I am American," an-
swered the man.
"But what are you doing?" asked another ruler.
"Listening to God and writing down what He tells me," said the
"It's not the sort of thing we do," said the rulers.
The man read to them what he had written-"They will not face
the cost of their compromise. Unless men change, nations will continue
to tread their historic path to violence and destruction. Rulers should
set the pace of change. Unless Cabinets learn to change men, their
policies will fail. We call this a Christian nation. But instead of
measuring our lives by Christ's absolute standards, we cut Him down
to suit our convenience."
"Blasphemy!" yelled a ruler who for years had boasted of his
agnosticism and had eleven divorces so far in his family.
Another ruler shook the big stick at the man and said, "If we
can't bribe you, we'll bully you."
"Bully-and be damned," said the man.
"Don't swear," said one of the rulers whose mind and mouth were
like the bottom of a birdcage.
"That was not an oath. It was a prediction," answered the man.
So the posse of rulers went about and about collecting gossip
like garbage. They heard some say the man was rich and that his
money came mysteriously from foreign Capitalists. (This did not
worry the man because both points were false, and anyway he thought
the best thing any Capitalist, foreign or otherwise, could do with
money was to give it to him to help his work.)
Enemies told Labour the man was pro-boss and Management
that he was pro-Labour. They told snobs he was common and the
common man that he was a snob. They said in America that he was
Communist, in Britain that he was anti-Communist; in India that
he was a war-monger, in Britain that he was pacifist; in Africa that
he was pro-British, in Britain that he was pro-African; in Japan,
Burma, Pakistan and other non-Christian countries that he was too
Christian, in Britain (where nominal Christianity is still socially
acceptable) that he was not Christian enough.
Many were confused by this. So these rulers, becoming restless
in wrath, went to the man, hoping he would have become what they
called "gentlemanly and reasonable," by which they meant keeping
quiet, upsetting nobody and doing things the way they wanted.
He was whistling when they arrived,. sitting on his tub. They
asked whether they had made him feel uncomfortable with gossip. He
looked at them for a time, then said, "You seem to be more uncom-
fortable about. it than I am. Half the lies they tell about the Irish aren't
true anyway." Then he showed them the report of a Colonel in Military
Intelligence who after studying tales that had been spread, wrote,
"Nothing but a potentially vast moral and spiritual reformation of
global proportions could possibly be honoured by antagonisms so
venomous and contradictory in character, and so world-wide in scope."
A ruler said, "Don't talk to us about moral and spiritual stuff."
Then he called the man a bad name. He shouted, "You're nothing but
a Square." Some people began laughing and hooting.
But the wise old man replied, "Is it worse to be a Square than a
Sod?" All were silent and listened.
"Whatd o vn mean by that?" asked the rulers.
"But that's not Christian. That's the Old Testament," yelled the
"Very well. The first Chapter of Romans will do," answered the
So the rulers went away and read the Bible, which had more
sturdiness and bite than they chose to enjoy, then came back to him.
One said, "Intolerance! Do you want to put men in prison for some-
thing they cannot help?"
Another said, "People like that are so brilliant, so charming, so
intelligent. Most of our friends are that way!
Another said, "Fascist! Do you want to persecute sinners?"
The man looked at them and said, "I will not persecute or con-
demn anybody. I want to give them an answer. I want it for their sake
as well as ours. So many of them are sad, sour, cruel. They could be
free. Many who live crooked do not think straight in public or private
affairs. Dirt is dirt. Neither prison nor praise answer dirt. Dirty men
can be clean. Dirty men for years have been telling lies which fools
like you have swallowed. Many of those who smear and attack the
moral rearmament of our country are bad security risks. Anybody who
practices moral rearmament will recognize a bad security risk when
they meet one."
Then he stood up straight and shouted, "Fools! Don't you under-
stand that those who try to kill the character of Moral Re-Armament
whether they know it or not are killing the character of the country."
There was silence, except for a noise like pebles washed by
waves, which was the grinding of teeth by some rulers.
Then one, who had boasted for years of the dirt which secretly
shamed him, said, "Do you really think dirt can be cured and
The man said, "Read I John 1, verse 7 and 1 Corinthians 6,
As the rulers went away once more to look it up, one said with
a sneer to another, "This fellow wants to see Britain become the
country of the Book again."
Another, who had won a fortune on the pools or Stock Exchange
or some such thing, said with a laugh (because underneath it all many
rulers had begun to respect the man and said so in the privacy of their
bedchambers), "I'd sooner have the country of the bookie."
The man overheard and shouted after them, "Fine. Provided you
bet whole life on the right thing." And he added, "You'll never, never
never get men and nations to unite nowadays without an ideology to
"Don't know what that long word means," said one ruler.
"Don't like it," said another.
So they read the verses in the Bible and afterwards took counsel
together. Millions of people, in docks, mills, fields, ships and homes all
over the world had begun to heed the challenge of the man. It was like
a rising tide, the spirit of God walking on the waters. Millions began
to understand something of what the man for ages had been at-and
loved what they knew.
Some critics said, "It's serious. We must silence him." So they
went back and crammed the man in his tub.
As they began to gag him, the man said, "It won't work, you
know. I'll still be here. The answer is not to put a gag in my mouth,
but to take the blinkers off your eyes." They grinned because they did
not know that sin blinds, binds, deadens and multiplies. They did not
see their own blinkers.
They sat on the tub, with the man inside, and told people to keep
clear of him because he was so 'controversial.
They declared that while everything said by folk like themselves
was news, the man's words were propaganda. One honest pressman
dared to ask: "You mean that anything negative about this bunch is
news, anything positive is propaganda?"
The rulers locked the pressman in the Tower of London for a
month or two, so he could value freedom more highly, then let him out
when he promised to keep quiet about the wise old man and his friends
-and gave him a raise in pay.
But the man's voice would not be stilled. He spoke more loudly,
gagged, from the tub than the men who were sitting on it, in their
This is what, amid the gathering storm and crash of civilization,
"Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide.
Then it is the brave man chooses,
While the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue
Of the faith they had denied."
The multitude, white, black, brown, yellow, East, West, were
They mean to have a new world, and begin to understand it must
be built out of new people.
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