Must Be Waged
An Interview with Albert Einstein
Robert Merrill Bartlett
"Do you believe that
we can change human nature?" I asked.
"No," he replied, "I
think not. Human nature remains more or less the same. But we
can guide human nature into new habits. That has been done throughout
history. Enlightenment and discipline do lead us into better ways."
"Shall we ever be able
to abolish war?" I persisted.
"Yes," he answered, "I believe we can. I feel
sure that we will. We must educate to do it. Our hope is in youthwho
can be given emancipated views of life."
"ls religion a necessary factor in this program of education?"
"Religion can be made
the basis of character instruction for youth. It should be the
means with which to create more intelligent attitudes. You ask
me if I believe in a purpose back of life? Every scientist wonders
at the mystery of existence and senses a creative force in the
law and beauty of the universe, but I cannot define that force
as an anthropomorphic God such as many religious people believe
in. Everyone has been given an endowment," he went on, "which
he must strive to develop in the service of mankind. This cannot
be brought to completion through the threat of a God who will
punish man for sin, but only by challenging the best in human
nature. To bring beauty and brotherhood into life is the chief
end of man and the highest happiness."
"Whom do you consider
the most significant leader in the world today?" I asked.
"I doubt if there has
been a true moral leader of world-wide influence since Tolstoy.
He remains in many ways the foremost prophet of our time."
Dr. Einstein paid tribute
to Albert Schweitzer, the Alsatian doctor who has built his remarkable
hospital in the jungle of Africa, as "a great figure who bids
for the moral leadership of the world. But there is no one today
with Tolstoy's deep insight and moral force. I admire Gandhi greatly
but I believe there are two weaknesses in his program. Nonresistance
is the most intelligent way to face difficulty, but it can be
practiced only under ideal conditions. Nonresistance practiced
in India against the English may be feasible but it could not
be carried out against the Nazi party in Germany today. Then,
Gandhi makes a mistake in trying to abolish the machine from modern
civilization. It is here and it must be dealt with."
"You have made a real
sacrifice in taking issue with the Nazi government and leaving
Germany. Would you take the same steps again?" I queried.
Dr. Einstein replied
quietly, "I have made no sacrifice. I have done nothing but what
a thinking man would do. I feel that it is not a matter of intellectual
complexity. There are certain stands that one must take on big
issues. I claim no credit. I could have taken no other course."
We walked out into
the blossoming garden. He drew a deep breath of the fragrant air
and exclaimed, "Ah, nature!" The contagious smile was still on
his face. "I am very happy with my new home in friendly America
and in the liberal atmosphere of Princeton," he commented. As
I thanked him for the privilege of the interview, I said, "I hope
that I may hear you lecture sometime." He laughed. "Lecture? I
don't know enough to go around giving lectures or to write books.
I sit some days in my study for three hours with a sheet of paper
before me and during that time write down just a few little figures
of some sort. No, I will never know enough to lecture or write
I said goodbye, leaving
the father of relativity standing in humility before his "fourth