FREDUM is the term given in the ancient laws of the Franks to the fine imposed for the violation of peace. In other words, this fine is the "cost of peace" or "price of peace." Together with other fines such as the price of man or the price of blood (wergild) or the price of vengeance (fehde), the price of peace takes on a special significance.
The people who considered it necessary to safeguard by law a peaceful state of life were reaching out for ethical legal codes. It would not be a bad idea if, nowadays amidst the numerous branches of international, criminal, and civil laws, the basic question of the violation of peaceful conditions were remembered. Such a law could remind people in everyday life of the significance of many considerations pertaining to peace. Everyone wants peace. But many definitely do not wish to approach it by peaceful means. Yet peace cannot be built on the foundation of abasement, belittling, or self-glorification.
Indeed, in all aspects of life the concept of human dignity should always be venerated and upheld. People should not only be conscious of, but they should learn to love the concepts of dignity, honor, and heroic attainment. These qualities should not be abstract, belonging only to the stage or the pages of a novel. They should be revealed in all the details of daily life. They should be vital, because only that which lives is convincing.
We hear many a time that the concepts of honor and dignity are considered nowadays to be already outworn. And around the word honor there infallibly seem to hover duels, bloody fights, and mutual assaults. Yet what has honor in common with a bloody duel? Human consciousness should of course outgrow the "price of blood." A righteous judgment need not be based on walking upon red-hot iron. It is absolutely impermissible to combine ever living concepts with medieval conventionalities.
It is quite possible that timid thinking is afraid to include in contemporary life many concepts which are, as it were, tainted by superstition and various prejudices. But could human dignity and honor be regarded as prejudices? Similarly, every defense of peace will be neither the sign of fear or of superstition. In every manifestation of this noble striving there will already be expressed that love of peace that is ordained in all fundamental laws.
Withdrawal from peace and all violations of peaceful conditions certainly already contradict human constructiveness. If a man is, as Plato says, a "politikon zoon," then in such a social structure veneration for all peaceful relationships should be contained first of all. This is not impotent pacificism but a courageous and conscious defense of dignity, be it around the hearth, a clan, or the state. How could the idea of the defense of dignity be non-peaceful ? One can visualize peacefully guarding or standing vigil in the name of peace, but at the heart of such a vigil there should essentially live the idea of peace. This lofty peace will not be like an ill-wishing neighbor, on the contrary, it will be a good neighbor, who honestly knows his boundaries.
Conquest has truly become a medieval concept. One may convince a man in the name of honor, reason, or the heart, but every violent conquest will forever remain on explicit pages of mankind's history.
Persuasion in the name of honor and dignity is possible when a man is truly a "social being," and not a wild beast. But to arrive at such a seemingly simple deduction one has to exercise patience and tolerance to the greatest extent. No one requires self-humiliation, for it was ordained since ancient times that "self-humiliation is worse than pride." Of course, no concept of peace and honor can be established on superstition or hypocrisy. If someone heralds peace while at the same time sharpening a dagger in his heart, this will not be peace but hypocrisy.
In a Byzantine kainourgion the majestic emblem of the nikopoia was surrounded by inscriptions of prayers of parents for their children and of children for their parents. Thus, the most sacred and heartiest was brought into cold official halls. From the history of Byzantium we know that such inscriptions remained dead conventionalities. In their formality they could not inspire or convince anyone, and the complete downfall of the Byzantine Empire only proves that the dead word has nothing in common with life.
Innumerable hypocritical inscriptions left their traces on the face of Earth. Precisely these signs of hypocrisy turned many people away from the true understanding of such sacred fundamentals as peace, honor, and dignity. He who knows how to affirm honor would have the right to speak of real peace. Without honor and honesty what kind of peace is possible?
The "fine for the violation of a peaceful state of life" — this is an extremely precise and universal statement. It includes not only the violation of public peace as foreseen by police regulations, but can cover a much wider and more essential field.
When we speak about the protection of cultural treasures, this will also constitute a struggle against the violation of peaceful conditions of life. When someone puts a lawful restraint upon cruelty, this also will be solicitude for the same peaceful condition. When people speak about the elimination of everything harmful to enlightened human existence, this also will be the defense of the same sacred and beautiful peace, the striving for which still lives in the depth of human hearts.
Innumerable sayings about peace exist in the covenants and laws of the East. From the most remote, most ancient times there stand before our eyes the radiant images of great lawgivers — born peacemakers. And in the classical world one can point out many strivings to the same ideal. Not without reason have we now remembered the fredum of the old laws of the Franks. The period preceding the Middle Ages always was considered the darkest epoch. But even from this epoch, together with the "price of blood," came forth solicitude for the defense of peaceful conditions.
In one of our former letters we spoke of peace for the whole world. For the realization of such a broad and lofty concept one must abide by a multitude of peaceful conditions, the violation of which, even from the viewpoint of primitive laws, would be considered a crime. Let us not be misled by the idea that such peaceful conditions are regulated only by international conferences. They exist in all our relationships. Therefore let us be a hundredfold solicitous toward each other. Let us realize the necessity of tolerance and patience. If we should mutually reiterate these foundations an endless number of times, it would not be in vain. From obeisance to these peaceful laws there is regenerated a concept of honor and dignity. These concepts can never be considered survivals, but will remain forever as the basis of a wise and enlightened life.
The true preservation of peaceful conditions will attract success of which so much is said and which is so little safeguarded. Nothing is easier than to break a vessel. But even if it is glued together, it will still remain forever a damaged object. Therefore, in inexhaustible creativity make beautiful and sound vessels. Adorn them with the best thoughts, and dedicate them in your innermost heart to the great peace of the whole world.
June 7, 1935