The Spectator

Christmas after our darkest hour (1940)

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Below is The Spectator’s leading article from Christmas 1940, which you can find on our fully-digitised archive.

We have reached the second Christmas of the war, and we are keeping it with what heart we may. No confidence in the rightness of our cause is lacking, nor has doubt emerged about the ultimate issue of the struggle. What penetrates men’s souls today is not concern for their personal fate, or even for their country’s, but a sense, borne in on them with sombre force as this festival comes round, of the tragedy of the conflict in which millions of human beings are still locked on the day when the message of peace and good will to all mankind should be sounding from every pulpit and rung out by the bells of every steeple.

All that is part of the eternal problem of evil, taking immense and terrible shape before our eyes. We can no more profess to plumb the mystery of it than generations of thinkers in the past who have admitted that when all is said there remains a residuum of mystery still. But evil in the world comes of evil men and evil deeds, and we have no choice but to be resisting that evil today. 

We entered the war sixteen months ago with consciences clear, and except that our efforts have been too slack we have little to reproach ourselves with as we survey its course from September of last year till today. We fought to further no national ambition and pursuing no interest but that of self-protection. We have sacrificed much in the endeavour to defend weaker nations, and if we did not succeed in that their cause remains ours still and their restoration to freedom and independence will be a basic condition of the final settlement. Our war aims may not have been formulated in detail, but the principles we are fighting for are plain to all, and there is no item or aspect of them that discredits us.

Evil in the world comes of evil men and evil deeds, and we have no choice but to be resisting that evil today

This Christmas finds us in a different temper from last.

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