Winter 2003
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Never Forget
A view from within
Alma Matters
Memīries Sweet
Riff Ram
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TCU Magazine "Class Notes"  

What year WAS that?

Our flash into the past this issue is an excerpt from an essay found in a Horned Frog yearbook. We'll let you to guess what year first, then turn the page upside down to find out if you were right.

The Age of Commercialism

If one were asked to characterize in a phrase the time in which we live, no more fitting could be given than that of the age of commercialism. With a wonderful increase in material comforts, a like advance in the mechanical comforts and intellectual sciences, and a marvelous activity in religion, the world finds itself confronted to-day with a problem whose wrong solution means the decay of comfort, the decline of art, and the death of devotion.

The spirit of commercialism is everywhere manifest. Our country, the world's model of self-government, has in its business life and ideals followed the unworthy example of its Old World neighbors. We speak with pride of our advanced civilization and free institutions, but is it not true, were we only honest enough to admit it, that a power and a spirit of deadly menace are dominating the real character of our national life?

Is it not a lamentable fact that our national principles are losing their prestige, and the sovereignty of government is being supplanted by a specter of silver and gold wielded by the tyrannical hand of commercialism? "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Although our forefathers have given us a priceless heritage, and the smiles of a benign Providence have ever attended the newest and grandest of nations, are we to assume that these blessings will exist perpetually, whether or not we nurture and protect them? We as a nation are destined yet to struggle, for there is an enemy already within our borders whose love of conquest exceeds that of Alexander or Napoleon. That enemy is the preserve, distorted spirit, commercialism.

Can we deny that the conflict is now on? Look around us, and we see everywhere signs of its ravage and desolation. This spirit of commercialism, darker than a demon from the bottomless pit, delights in waste and revelry. It roams the streets of our cities, seeking whom it may destroy. It takes the last penny from the pauper, casts it into the vault where billions are hoarded, and sends its victims on, destitute and starving. It takes man's body and enslaves it; his mind and shatters it. It takes his soul and leaves him a human machine without the possibility of development or desire for a hereafter. It has crazed the American citizen till he rushes headlong and fearless into the woes in which this spirit revels like a tiger with the first taste of human blood. Yea! It has made our people money-made.

If there is a problem before the American people that demands the best efforts of men, it is that of commercialism.We need men, and need them at once, fearless, brave, strong, bold men, country-loving, humanity-serving, self-sacrificing, "God smitten men," who will place their bodies on the alter that from their sacrifices incense may arise to God to invoke His blessing and deliverance.

We need young men in our colleges with the highest and most noble purposes in life, who are "pursuing the higher branches with one hand upon the printed page and the other upon the other upon the great throbbing pulse of the world, with one ear turned to the instructor's voice and the other bent to hear the cry of humanity."

The crisis is at hand. The destiny of America is the issue of our action. We must intelligently and courageously face the situation and curl hurl our gage of battle into the ranks of our foe. If we prove false, our country will take its place in the unchangeable past, where generations to come will uncover the ruins of our once splendid heritage and read the mournful story of our disgraceful end, wrought by the greed of gain in an age when the spirit of commercialism palsied the hand of integrity and silenced forever the voice of our national honor.

Published in the 1906 Horned Frog, this piece was written by W.O. Dallas, who won second place in the Sate Oratorical Contest on April 20, 1906.