The Golden age. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1906-1915, May 10, 1906, Page 12, Image 12
12 THE PATHOS OT PAGANISM We are not to consider the sins of the heathen peoples, such as cannibalism, untruthfulness, slav ery and immorality, but certain pathetic facts that should appeal to men and women everywhere who are lovers of their kind. We do not assert that there are not certain excellencies to be found among the heathn, for oriental peoples are polite and pa tient, are wont to persevere in the face of hostile conditions, and could teach us much in the way of reverence for age and respect for law. And yet, there are certain circumstances connected with their home life and their spirtual needs which are ex ceedingly pathetic, and cry out for the proper con sideration of mankind. The most obvious are their loveless homes, and unhappy child-life. The home is the foundation of the social order, and when the foundation is not what it ought to be, that which is built upon it can not be. And the false religions of the heathen world have struck at the homes of the people. It is to be seen first of all in the very prepara tions which are made for the building of the home. Parent-betrothal is practically universal in non- Christian countries. The contracting parties to the marriage have nothing to say as to who shall be the partner for life. The result is inevtable; the home is a loveless one. In one country especially this system leads to a terrible result. We refer to India, and the result referred to is the institution that is known as child widowhood. Children are betrothed in infancy, and multitudes are actually married before they are five years of age. If or any reason, the little girl, be trothed or married at that tender age, should suffer the loss of the boy who is destined for her husband, her life immediately becomes one of untold misery. She is turned over‘to the tender mercies of the mother of her intended husband, and her life be comes one of unspeakably pathetic sufferings. Her very touch is pollution. She lives under a curse. Now, when it is remembered that every fifth woman in India is a widow, doomed from the most tender ages to all the rigors of lives of outcasts, this be comes one of the most pathetic facts in our modern life. For all the world is akin in this century. Unhappy Child Life. But the cruelty against these children is the most pathetic part of this picture. In China children are sold into slavery, and daughters into lives of shame. Infant-murder is a feature of the life of every non-Christian land save the land of the Mo hammedans. (And there it is almost a calamity that it does not exist, so degraded are the people. To travel through Palestine is to see everywhere hopeless faces of childhood, and the degradation of womanhood.) In one province of China it is esti mated that 40 per cent, of the girl babies are mur dered every year. In another province the estimate is from 30 to 70 per cent. Throughout China the average is put at 39 per cent. A missionary writes that when he went to Amoy there was a pond in the center of the city known as 1 ‘The Babies Pond,” into which little babies were thrown to be drowned. There were always several bodies of little babies floating on its green, slimy waters, and passers-by looked on without surprise or emotion. It is inter esting to know that the influence of Christianity has banished that ghastly sight. There are tens of thousands of infant girls who are killed every year in China alone. The same is true of India, and ex ists in even more horrible proportions in the Pacific islands and Africa. Neglect of Sick Children. When a child sickens, we are told that the par ents care for it as long as there is any chance of saving its life. When remedies fail, the situation changes. Stripped, the child is laid naked upon the floor just inside the outside door, The elders sit The Golden Age for May 10, 1906. By JUNIUS W. MILLARD. around and watch the issue. If it lives, it is their true child; if not, it never was their child, and the body is thrown into the street. In Pekin, one never sees a child’s funeral, but every morning early a large covered wagon, drawn by two oxen, passes along, piled to the brim with the bodies of dead children, sometimes a hundred at once, thrown into the wagon like garbage. Unwashed, unkempt, unhappy, such is the life of the child in the lands without Christ, 0 my brothers! And for these children, let their very sorrows plead. If a child’s wretchedness in a single city appeals to the sympathy of the world, how much more should the sufferings of these million of wretched ones plead with the sympathetic heart of the wide world? Tn China we have child slavery, in India child widowhood, and everywhere child exposure and murder. The cry of these innocents ascends to the God of the ages from every heathen land, crying out, “How long’, 0 Lord God, shall these iniquities endure?” Another pathetic circumstance, which is closely akin to what has already been written, is the wanton disregard of human life. The heathen world is the strong man’s world where the weakest goes to the wall, and no hand is held out to the wasted, and the poor are ever unpitied. How could it be other wise in an environment which has produced canni balism, slavery, human sacrifices, torture and the degradation of woman? Heathenism builds no asy lums for the insane, no hospitals for the sick, no almshouses for the poor, but in its brutal selfishness allows the weaker ones of the earth to go down into hopelessness and misery. China will see a thous and men perish with less emotion than America would see a dozen. In India life is squandered as if it were a worthless thing. And this would be true of us today, had not One come to teach us that the whole world itself is not enough to recompense for the loss of a single human life. We have learn ed the worth of humanity by looking at it through the eyes of God. But it is a pathetic thing to see lives of men and women and children, not only ren dered wretchedly miserable, but even wantonly disregarded and thrown away, in heathen lands. But the pathos of the situation is not thoroughly seen until we see the great and terrible burdens from which the heathen world is altogether unable to free itself. The Burden of Poverty. See especially the great burden of poverty. The average income of the people of India is from six to eight dollars per annum. Fifty millions are always upon the verge of starvation, and forty millions of them go through life on insufficient food. In times of famine, millions die. In China from three to four millions die annually of hunger. In Africa the poverty of the people is intense. And all this poverty is different from the poverty among us, for the people have no hope of help from the more favored ones, for they have no pity be cause they have no proper regard for human life. Actual starvation is always in sight, and life be comes a bitter struggle to keep death from the door. The cause of this poverty is not far to seek. Be cause of their ignorance, the people have no mas tery over nature, no inventive genius, no economic enterprise. Much of it is due to their laziness and their great pride, but fully one-half of it is due to their priestcraft and superstititon, and is connected with their religious practices. The only cure is to be sought in the introduction of modern civilization, which rests upon Christianity. This will bring a ray of hope to the hopeless. It will not banish poverty, but it will introduce reme dial forces and raise up new ideals, and arouse the people to new endeavor, and hold out a helping hand to the despairing, and will thus become the great saving power among the heathen, There is an air of sociological hopefulness in the very atmos phere of a truly Christian land, and the religion of Jesus, aiming directly at the regeneration of the in dividual, indirectly results in the regeneration of society itself. A most interesting gift was received a few years ago in London as a subscription to the fund of Lord Mayor for the Indian famine suffer ers. This was $4,000, which had been sent by ii - habitants of the Fiji Islands, who were all canni bals when Queen Victoria ascended the throne. They had been reconstructed by their acceptance of Christianity into a constituent part of our modern world, with sympathy for their fellow-men. Pagan Superstitions. Another terrible burden is the burden of pain, suffering and illness. Heathenism shows no intelli gent sympathy toward the sick. In India they used to expose such sufferers upon the bank of the Ganges, until the banks of the river were a pan orama of horror. In all these lands sickness is sup posed to be the work of demons, hence a sick per son is the object of loathing and terror. They are often turned out of the house, and in many cases are carried from door to door. The people have no knowledge of the nature of disease, or of the methods of cure. They are poorly fed, and but rarely visited. Often the priests, wizards or as trologers attempt to cure disease by driving out the demons by the beatings of gongs. Desperate cases of illness and contagious diseases are left without attention. The blind and deformed must shift for themselves. Often, the sick and aged are cruelly killed. Missionary R. T. Bryan, of China, while on a visit to America a few years ago, told me of a man in Chi na who had fallen down a precipice, breaking his leg and horribly gashing his head and arm. One had dragged him to a place by the roadside, at the very door of the temple of the goddess of mercy, and there he had lain for three days, suffering indescribable agony under the very eyes of the priests, with thou sands of people passing constantly. At the end of this time, maggots had formed in his wounds, and during all this time he had had neither food nor drink. When Mr. Bryan first saw him, the priest was looking at him ,and was about to pass on, when Mr. Bryan asked him why he, a priest of the goddess of mercy, did not do something for the poor man, and the priest answered that he had no time to waste upon him. Mr. Bryan hired a man to take the man away and wash his wounds, but the next day he died. But the greatest burden of all is sin. They all rec ognize something wrong, and in innumerable ways try to rid themselves of their great burden, only to fail. It is infinitely pathetic to see them going to their temples to pray to their idols, and fondly hop ing that those deaf pieces of stone have heard their petitions. Their slavery to fear is something awful. But in spite of prayer-wheels, and votive offerings, incantations, and exorcism, their burden of sin re .mains. But the most pathetic thing of all is that they have a dim consciousness of God, and try to search after him, but are unable to find him. They have gods many, temples for them to inhabit; but the true God they do not know. They are feeling after God, if haply they may find him. They have not beard Jesus say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Ah, but when they do find God, how happy it makes them! The Boxers came to a young China man, and said, “If you will deny the Christians’ God, we will not kill you.” He replied, “God knows that I know him. It would do no good to deny him.” And they killed him with this confes sion upon his lips. Some, in this great soul searching, do find him. It rests with ug to give this saving knowledge to them all.