Moral Force

By Terence MacSwiney

From "A History of Ireland and Her People" by Eleanor Hull, 1931

"A man of moral force is he, who, seeing a thing to be right and essential, and claiming his allegiance, stands for it as for the truth, unheeding any consequence. It is not that he is a wild person, utterly reckless of all mad possibilities, filled with a madder hope, and indifferent to any havoc that may ensue. No, but it is a first principle of his, that a true thing is a good thing, and from a good thing rightly pursued can follow no bad consequence. And he faces every possible development with conscience at rest--it may be with trepidation for his own courage in some great ordeal, but for the nobility of the cause and the beauty of the result that must ensue, always with serene faith. And soon the trepidation for himself passes, for a great cause always makes great men, and many who set out in hesitation die heroes. This it is that explains the strange and wonderful buoyancy of men, standing for great ideals, so little understood of others of weaker mould. The soldier of freedom knows he is forward in the battle of Truth, he knows his victory will make for a world beautiful, that if he must inflict or endure pain, it is for the regeneration of those who suffer, the emancipation of those in chains, the exaltation of those who die, and the security and happiness of generations yet unborn. For the strength that will support a man through every phase of this struggle a strong and courageous mind is the primary need--in a word, Moral Force. A man who will be brave only if tramping with a legion will fail in courage if called to stand in the breach alone. And it must be clear to all that till Ireland ran again summon her banded armies there will be abundant need for men who will stand the single test. 'Tis the bravest test, the noblest test, and 'tis the test that offers the surest and greatest victory. For one armed man cannot resist a multitude, nor one army conquer countless legions; but not all the armies of all the Empires of earth can crush the spirit of one true man. And that one man will prevail."

(Principles of Freedom)--TERENCE MACSWINEY.

"The freedom of a nation carries with it the responsibility that it be no menace to the freedom of another nation. The freedom of all makes for the security of all. If there are tyrannies on earth one nation cannot set things right, but it is still bound so to order its own affairs as to be consistent with universal freedom and friendship. Strange as it may seem, separation from England will alone make for final friendship with England. No one is so foolish as to wish to be for ever at war with England. It is unthinkable. Now the most beautiful motive for freedom is vindicated. Our liberty stands to benefit the enemy instead of injuring him. If we want to injure him, we should remain as we are--a menace to him. The opportunity will come but it would hardly make us happy. This but makes clear the need of the human race. Freedom rightly considered is not a mere setting up of a number of independent units. It makes for harmony among nations and good fellowship on earth. Our enemies are brothers from whom we are estranged."

(Principles of Freedom)--TERENCE MACSWINEY.