timely advice from Ernest Hemingway

Back in 1945, when America was fresh from its victory over the axis powers, Ernest Hemingway offered the following advice, which went mostly unheeded. This is from Carlos Baker’s Ernest Hemingway: a Life Story, page 453.

“Now that the wars are over and the dead are dead,” he wrote [in an introduction to an anthology called A Treasury for the Free World], “we have come… into that more difficult time when it is a man’s duty to understand his world.” In war, men needed “obedience, the acceptance of discipline, intelligent courage, and resolution.” In peace, their duty was “to disagree, to protest, even to revolt and rebel” while still working always “toward finding a way for all men to live together on this earth.” The United States had come out of the war as the strongest of the powers. It was important that she did not also become the most hated. Among other achievements, American armed forces had probably “killed more civilians of other countries than all our enemies did in all the famous massacres we so deplore.” The atomic bomb was the sling and the pebble which could destroy all the giants, including ourselves. We must avoid any trace of the mentality of the Fascist bully. Nor should we fall into the fatal errors of hypocrisy, sanctimoniousness, or vengeance. Instead we must educate ourselves to appreciate the “rights, privileges, and duties of all other countries.”

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