Cultural Association




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N. Roerich on the Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace :





     Heartiest salutations to all assembled in the name of the Banner of Peace, in the name of reverence to all cultural treasures!
     I have already expressed my admiration for the noble project of M. Camille Tulpinck to convene a Conference in Bruges to spread and enforce in life our Peace Pact. M. Tulpinck will undoubtedly acquaint the honored assembly with some of the considerations, which I have outlined in my communications to him.
     Now, I should like to address all present and in this salutation, to bear witness to the enthusiasm already transmitted to us from countries throughout the world for this cause. To me, this Conference appears as the foundation of that long-anticipated League of Culture. This League will sustain the universal consciousness in its realization that true evolution is constructed only upon the foundations of Knowledge and Beauty.
     Only the values of culture will solve the most complex problems of life. Only in the name of the treasures of culture, may humanity prevail. At the very root of this concept, so sacred to us, is enfolded the entire veneration of Light, the true service to Bliss. For it is precisely the concept of culture that must be regarded, not as sterile abstraction but as the virility of creativeness; it lives, nourished by the indefatigable achievements of life, of enlightened labor and of creation. Not for our own sakes because we are already mindful of it, but for the sake of those growing generations to come, let us repeat again and again that during the proudest epochs of human history, a renaissance and efflorescence were achieved where the tradition of reverence for culture grew. And we know that this tradition cannot be strengthened instantaneously. It must be tended daily by the benediction of light. For even the worthiest garden withers in darkness and in drought.
     Hence the Banner of Peace is indispensable for us, not only in the hour of war but perhaps, even more, as a necessity each day, when unmarked by the roar of cannons, irrevocable errors are committed against culture.
     Of universal significance are the cultural spiritual values of mankind; and an equally peace-imparting unification is effected by the cordial handclasp in the name of the glorious treasures of all generations.
     In our wide program, the multifold ways of how to care for Culture are to be discussed. Multifold also will be the useful suggestions, we shall undoubtedly hear, all so needed in this universal movement. And the question which concerns us is only how best and in what order to apply them. We shall also hear of a Universal Day of Culture, when simultaneously in all schools and educational institutions, a day shall be consecrated to the full appreciation of all national and universal treasures of culture. We shall discuss which monuments of culture and which cultural collections shall be protected by the Banner of Peace. We shall discuss a universal inventory of all treasures of human genius. We shall discuss the entire complex of protective measures for Beauty and Knowledge, which must verily become the responsibility of all rational humanity, introducing firm foundations into life. There will certainly also be discussed the organizing of special Committees in all countries, the representatives of which have already expressed, or are prepared to express their endorsement of this cultural work. The organization of such a Committee has already begun in America. In our first Annals, which we have had the pleasure to offer to this Assembly, are outlined the measures which have thus far been fulfilled by us for this Pact. We are of course certain that not only will the Annals indicate the development of the Peace Pact, but that another edition will be issued, dedicated to all questions pertaining to the universal inventory of cultural treasures.
     Beginning with this Fall, on the basis of the sympathies and approval of the Pact by organizations numbering millions of members, we are inaugurating a Fund for the Banner of Peace. A special meeting dedicated to the Banner of Peace in our Museum in New York, proved once again what powerful sympathies fortify our idea. One must also mark that some institutions have already flown the Banner of Peace above their treasures, thus confirming the urgency of this decision. It is necessary to emphasize that all these actions must proceed along one channel. The concept of Culture must arouse in us also the consonant concept of unity. We are tired of destruction and of common misunderstanding. Only Culture, only the all-unifying conception of Beauty and Knowledge, can restore the pan-human language to us. This is not a dream! It is founded upon my experience during forty-two years of activity in the domain of Culture—Art and Science. And in unison we may pronounce an irrevocable oath, that we shall never abandon the defense of culture and the League of Culture, neither we, nor our associates. Nor can we be deluded, for our experiences in the domains of art and knowledge have filled us with an unquenchable enthusiasm. Not only one nation, nor one class is with us, but multitudes, for, above all, the human heart is open to the Beauty of creativeness.
     From the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, in the name of all-embracing and all-conquering Beauty of creativeness, in its vastest conception, I greet you! I greet the friends-devotees of Culture. And this Union in the Beautiful will multiply our strength, it will imbue our thoughts with harmony and with its impelling power as a Beautiful Necessity will attract to us multitudes of co-workers for culture.
     The conception of Culture belongs among the invincible synthesizing concepts. Only ignorance can be hostile to Culture; and wherever it reveals itself, we must regret it. However, we must remember how slowly even the most evident ideas enter the consciousness. Let us remember that even the Banner of the Red Cross, which has since rendered incalculable service to humanity, at first was received with derision, mistrust and ridicule. Similar were the cases also with numerous examples of the most useful discoveries and innovations. But these deplorable facts serve to imbue us with conviction of the necessity and vitality of the Banner of Peace and League of Culture.
     After all, what we propose in nowise belittles anyone or anything, it does not involve complicated measures, but is feasible through very simple means. Certainly, great works cannot be carried through instantaneously—long and indefatigable labor is needed. And for this we are prepared. But fire is ignited instantaneously, thus let this sacred fire, the fire of the Chalice of Ascent, unite us all without delay to join and unfurl in friendship the Banner of Peace, the Banner of Culture.