Excerpt from Butler Alumnal Quarterly, Vol. 8: April, 1919-January, 1920
Hence society must depend upon precedent that it may run as smoothly as possible and that the conservatism of human nature, that great factor of life, be maintained. In long periods of dura tion, however... , precedents are obliterated and superseded by alter ing conditions, but they are so used or amended that the transition seems to be and often is a natural evolution, causing no abrupt change in the peaceful current of events.
It is not always so, however. There come periods of revolutionary activity in society, the in¿uence of new discoveries, the perception of new truths or new bearings of Old truths, eruptions of nature that create new thoughts which change habits quickly and upset fixed conceptions. The most apparent cause is the con¿ict of war, physical force. In some such experiences precedents are wiped out, leaving no vestige. New conditions appear for which history finds no counterpart and society has nothing to fall back on. It must then take the initiative and originate its own methods of settlement, devise a new way of living. At such periods humanity is usually dazed for a time; it is like a colony of bees when the hive is tumbled over. It loses its bearings in the face of the untried.
When the war now ending began, many felt that civilization was done for and all precedents were destroyed. This was not strange. For one thing the world had come to believe that war between any of the great powers was an impossibility because they were too enlightened and the cost would be too great to pay. Further that war was barbaric and its day had gone, as had that of private warfare, or the duel. Civilization forbade it. People who believed the world was committed to the reign of law were as certain of this as is the man who, trusting to the protection of the police.
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