It is also an attitude expressed by other characters especially when there is a move to allow a non European to become a member of the exclusive European Club. Those with power and privilege are often resistant to any changes that might reduce this.
As Orwell is publishing "Burmese Days" Niebuhr is making social comment as well on these lines.
He talks about human anxiety playing a role in human action. Anxiety about what might happen to you can lead to actions that are not always good. He also says that those who want to challenge social injustice and change the world for the better should expect opposition from those who might lose out as a result. In order to get change some form of confrontation may well be necessary as those with power are not just going to hand it over. In "Moral Man and Immoral Society " published in 1932 he observed:
" the white race in America will not admit the Negro to equal rights if it is not forced to do so". 1
It seems that the question of prejudice and equal rights is just as much an issue today as when Orwell and Niebuhr were writing back in the 1930's. Many across the world have been appalled at the death of George Floyd and protested in various ways against the injustice and prejudice they see and feel.
If Niebuhr is right then opposing such injustice and prejudice will bring its own opposition and even confrontation of some sort.
We might feel that there is not much we can do about all of this; we might feel that our actions are like a grain of sand on the seashore, easily washed away by the prevailing tide. This might be true but it could also be true that from such grains castles of hope are built.
Today we pray for all those
across the world who are suffering
from injustice of any sort.
We pray that your spirit of
love will work in the hearts
of all people, so that all people
can live in dignity with respect
for each other.
We thank you for the diversity
of culture and life across Your world.
Help us to rejoice and celebrate this.
In those times when we fall short
in showing Your love, forgive us
and open our eyes afresh to the truth
that we are all created in Your image.
1. Niebuhr R, Moral Man and Immoral Society ( Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press 1932) 253