Toward Internationalism, January 7, 1916

REEL 47_1315.jpg
REEL 47_1316.jpg



Madam chairman, ladies of the Pan American Congress, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to be here if only on the last day of this congress, because all over the United States it has been watched by women as well as men with a very great deal of interest. The congress seems to many of us particularly appropriate at this moment when so many of the countries of the world are divided one from the other, and I am sure it will have great significance as a formal effort at the best type of internationalism. I have lived for a long time, as some of you may know, in a foreign quarter of Chicago. The people who are our neighbors come from almost every country in Europe, and a few of them from South American countries as well. I talked only last night with a woman who had lived almost all of her days in Brazil. These immigrants, as we call them, who have lived all over the world, find it quite possible to make friends with each other. They find it quite possible after a few months, and better still after a few years, to understand each other and to live together, not only in amenity, but with mutual interest and mutual undertakings, and it seems to those of us who know Chicago in these quarters, which is not in the least unlike all of the great cities of America, whether they are in North America or in South America, that it represents what is going to happen from the mingling of many people who become international through this perfectly natural and spontaneous process.

Now, you know the eighteenth century philosophers and the nineteenth century poets dreamed of internationalism as rather a formal undertaking. People would say, "Come together, let us be international," and then they would pass resolutions and found a constitution, and so forth and so on. But the latter part of the nineteenth century, and above all the twentieth century, has approached it much more empirically, much more pragmatically; I should say, much more from the point of view of human experience and mutual [page 2] interests. And if this can be done by simple peasants from Germany and Italy, Slavs and Latins, Anglo-Saxons and whoever you please -- if they can achieve this internationalism -- then certainly it can be done by other people living in these various countries.

We have an opportunity such as never faced the world before, simply because of the tremendous possibilities of communication, and the wonderful advantages of travel, and all of the other things which people never had until our generation; and if we do not utilize these things to found human internationalism from experience and understanding rather than that formal thing which comes from philosophy, and get results, then it seems to me that we will have lost the one opportunity, the great opportunity which has been put into our hands.

We know, of course, that from the beginning of time this understanding of peoples, of natural intercourse, of social life versus political life, has largely been in the hands of women; and therefore it is an obligation which women have in this generation as peculiarly their own.

And so we have watched this women's division of the Pan American Congress with a great deal of interest, and we believe that we will all go to our homes in this country and in the other countries which are represented here, with a new type of internationalism in our minds; the type which is founded upon genuine understanding, which is better affection and goodwill, and I was going to say, and respect, which cannot be wrought up out of mere reading or out of mere good resolves. I think when we were little or young we depended much more on good resolves than we do as we grow older. As we grow older we depend upon something which is a little more scientific, do we not? founded a little more on human experience, and we have a little less confidence in what we determined to do from the outset. It is this that is the internationalism which I believe this distinguished company here represents, and toward which you have been working during the last fortnight. May I congratulate you, and regret that I was unable to have a larger part in your proceedings.

Item Relations


Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>