The Progressive Party Acclaims Theodore Roosevelt 1
THE MOMENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT appeared on stage, a sea of red bandanas erupted from the ten thousand people who filled the Chicago Coliseum. It was one o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, August 6, 1912. TR stood smiling, waving, and shaking hands for fifty-eight minutes before the demonstrations, the songs, and the cheering died down enough for him to finally step forward and speak.
The National Progressive Party Convention was the fourth convention of this unusual election year. The socialists had named their presidential candidate in May, the Republicans in June, and the Democrats at the beginning of July. A few hours after losing the Republican nomination to President Taft on Saturday, June 22, Roosevelt and his supporters had met in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and started a new political party.
“The victory shall be ours,” he told them. “We fight in honorable fashion for the good of mankind; fearless for the future; unheeding of our individual fates; with unflinching hearts and undimmed eyes; we stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!”
“Never before had Roosevelt used such evangelical language, or dared to present himself as a holy warrior,” Edmund Morris writes in his 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the Colonel. “Intentionally or not, he invested progressivism with a divine aura.”
There can be no effect without a cause, for as long as there is an effect there must be a cause. 2
I shall content myself today with recording just one of the Master’s addresses. He delivered this talk in the afternoon in home of Mr and Mrs Parsons. The audience was greatly moved and a wonderful spirit of sincerity spread throughout the gathering. The following is the transcription of His address as well as the questions and answers on the immortality of the soul.
He is God! We must first prove that there is no annihilation in creation. Annihilation is only the decomposition of elements. For example, all these things we see in existence are made up of elements; that is, single atoms have combined and have formed infinite patterns. Every combination produces an entity. For example, through the combination of certain elements this flower has come into existence. Its annihilation means only the decomposition of this combination, it does not mean the destruction of the individual atoms or principal elements because these remain and will not be destroyed. When we say that this flower is destroyed we mean that its combination is decomposed but the principal elements remain; only their combination is destroyed.
In the same way, man has come into existence as the result of the combination of certain elements. Although his death is the disintegration of these elements, the elements are not annihilated. Therefore, life consists of the combination of elements and death of their dissolution or transference from one state to another. The transference of the vegetable to the animal world is the death of the former. Draw your own conclusions from this. Similarly, the transference of man from this world of matter and the dissolution of his elements constitute human death. Thus, it should be known that for existence there is no death. At most there is a transfer from one state to another. As the soul of man is not the result of composition and does not come into being through the affinity of molecular elements, it is not subject to disintegration. If it were, then we would say the soul has died. But because it is not composed, therefore it cannot be decomposed. And it is clear that even the basic elements are not subject to decomposition as they are not a compound composition. No doubt remains regarding this matter.
Second, the transference of the body from one condition to another brings about no change or alteration in the soul. For instance, the body is young but it grows old, while the soul remains unaffected; the body becomes weak but the soul does not; the body becomes diseased or paralyzed but the soul remains unchanged. It has often come to pass that one of the limbs of the body has been amputated; the soul, however, remains the same and is not affected at all. Therefore, it is clear that the changes experienced by the body do not affect the soul. As long as it is unchanged, it will remain eternal. The pivot of mortality is change and alteration.
Third, in the world of sleep, man’s body is powerless and his faculties inactive. The eye does not see, the ear does not hear, the body does not move; but the soul sees, hears, moves and discovers realities. Therefore, it is proven that the soul is not destroyed with the death of the body; it does not perish after the death of the body; it does not sleep when the body is asleep; rather, it has perception, it discovers, it flies and it travels.
Fourth, the body is here but the soul is present in the East or the West. While in the West, it puts the affairs of the East in order; while in the East, it explores the affairs of the West. It manages and regulates the momentous affairs of the world. The body is in one single place but the soul is present in various places and countries. It discovers America while in Spain. Thus, the soul has a control and influence which the body has not. The body cannot see but the soul can see and has perception. Therefore, it follows that its existence is not dependent on the body.
Fifth, no effect occurs without a cause. It is impossible for a cause to be non-existent when its light and radiance are manifest, for fire not to exist when its heat is sensed, for light not to exist when illumined objects are witnessed, mind not to exist when the power of thought is present. Briefly, there can be no effect without a cause, for as long as there is an effect there must be a cause. Therefore, though Christ appeared one thousand nine hundred and twelve years ago, His signs still exist today and His sovereignty and influence are manifest. Is it possible for that divine Spirit to be non-existent and these great signs still to be present? Therefore it is established that the Cause of these signs is He Who is the source of eternal light and everlasting bounties.
Sixth, everything can have only one shape, whether it be triangular, square or pentagonal. An object cannot have different shapes at the same time. For instance, this carpet is rectangular; is it possible that it can have a circular shape as well? It cannot. That is possible only if it loses its first form and takes a new one. Nevertheless, while it is impossible for an object to possess diverse forms at one and the same time, the spirit of man possesses all forms and has manifold shapes simultaneously. It has no need to change from one form to another. As it is beyond change and forms, it is non-material and eternal.
Seventh, when a man looks at creation, he sees two things: that which is perceptible to the senses and that which is abstract. The things that are perceptible to the senses, such as vegetables, minerals and animals, that can be seen by the eyes, heard by the ears, smelled, touched or tasted, are subject to change. But rational powers are not perceived by the physical senses. The power of the mind and knowledge are intellectual realities and are not subject to change or alteration. The eye cannot see them; the ear cannot hear them. It is impossible that knowledge, which is an intellectual reality, be changed into ignorance. The soul, too, is one of the intellectual realities: it is unalterable and is not subject to annihilation.
A person who is endowed with perception has spirituality and heavenly attributes; he can recognize that the human soul has never been subject to annihilation and will never become so. He sees that all created beings are in harmony with the spirit and are under its influence. He knows himself to be eternal, everlasting, constant, imperishable and encompassed by the lights of God, the Lord of glory. For he has spiritual susceptibilities and is affected by conscience and spiritual impulses. He is not limited by rational constraints or human emotions and sentiments. However, the man who has no perception or inner sight finds himself always dejected and lifeless; every time he thinks of death, he is afraid, because he considers himself to be mortal.
Blessed souls are not of this category. They sense that they are eternal, luminous and imperishable like the disciples of Christ. It is for this reason that at the time of death or martyrdom Bahá’ís rejoice, because they know there is no death or annihilation for them. At most, the body disintegrates but the soul exists in the divine world and has everlasting life.
The audience was deeply moved by this address and all expressed their satisfaction and became devoted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
- Menon, Jonathan. “The Progressive Party Acclaims Theodore Roosevelt.” 239 Days in America, 7 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/07/the-progressive-party-acclaims-theodore-roosevelt/. [return]
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=6#section136 [return]