New Methods of Procedure, July 12, 1926


New Methods of Procedure.

Miss Jane Addams: I should like to begin my speech this evening with a quotation from a paper published in Dublin more than ten years ago. I want to quote the words of a great Irish pacifist known to pacifists all the world over. His name is Sheehy Skeffington. Mr. Skeffington wrote on the 22nd of May, when the great war was in full swing:

"I advocate no mere slavish acceptance of injustice. I am, and always will be, a fighter, but I want to see the age-long fight against injustice clothe itself in new forms suited to a new age. I want to see the world no longer [hypnotized], no longer blind to the horrors of [organized] murder."

The Women's International League believes with Mr. Skeffington that people are not obliged to choose between violence and passive acceptance of unjust conditions for themselves or for others, but that moral courage and active good will, will achieve more than violence. We believe that new methods, free from physical violence, must be worked out for ending struggle.

I should like to draw your attention to the different groups of people in various parts of the world who are working out this new method.

I went around the world a few years ago and one of the places that stands out in my memory is India. A great effort is being made there to obtain self-determination. But the two groups who [page 2] are working for it have absolutely put aside the use of arms and violence. One group calls itself the Constitutionalists. They are doing what they can to secure legislative privileges in the way of office holding and to gradually fit themselves for the technique of government.

I was given a party by the Social Workers' Club. I expected to see the usual people associated with social work. But instead I found a room full of fifteen hundred young men. They were preparing themselves for the type of government they believed India ought to have. They wanted to know about child welfare stations, about unemployment doles and all the governmental experiments to aid mankind which we are trying in America and elsewhere.

Then there is another great movement in India, the one led by Gandhi. His advice to India is to raise its own simple clothing as well as its own simple food. He stands for an independent life outside the western civilization. His teaching may be right or it may be wrong but it is not a mere sentimental thing with him. . . .

But this is only one aspect of Gandhi's preaching. His great doctrine is that of passive resistance. To resist with soul force instead of brute force. He maintains that only by passive resistance has India any chance of competing with the Western civilization. . . .

I also recall vividly my visit to China. We had a meeting of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the young Chinese who presided in Peking was a native preacher. He had been converted to Christianity. This young man said: "After all Christianity is an Eastern religion; produced in the East, taken over to the West, and now it has been brought back to the East. And the East asks this question of you: 'We have accepted the West's doctrines, but we have no technique as to what to do in time of strife. We have thirty-two provinces and in each there is a military governor hoping eventually to make himself the ruler of China. These governors are fighting each other and they are living on the people. What technique have you worked out for circumstances such as these?'"

What could I say, I who represented for the moment the civilization of the West? I could only say we had no technique as we ourselves resorted to arms. But now I can say to you in the West that there are small groups in China trying to work out a technique of non-violence, so that the doctrine of good will, the [page 3] melting influence of human love, may be brought to bear on vexed situations. . . .

This theory of running the world without violence is being tried out; it is no dream, it is an actual living concern for many thousands of people in many parts of the world. I believe the East is going to get there first. The most intellectual attempts are being made in India and China and if we are not careful, the Western civilization will pass away from us to the new countries in the East who are working out this new technique. . . .

I wish to say in closing we have never had a more cordial welcome than here in Ireland. We have never felt that people were more alive to our interests and though we do not expect you to agree with all we say, we do know you have given us a most delightful hearing and that we will go away from Dublin feeling we have left behind us very warm friends who will follow on in the work for some of the great ideas of world peace which were first enunciated by your own people.