New Ideals of Peace
Miss Jane Addams.
We sometimes forget when we belittle war and its glittering paraphernalia that after all it represents a series of ideas and emotions which have been very dear to men from the beginning of time. In the same way that the historic church, striving in vain to express in solid form the noblest aspirations of the human heart, has called to her aid music, the cathedral, the procession, the ecclesiastical vestment, -- so War, desiring to impress the human mind with the courage of the soldier, his readiness to die, his willingness to surrender all to patriotism, has called to its aid music, the march and the gold-bedecked uniform. All through the centuries whether men were driven in tribes by the pangs of hunger to find land and food outside of their territory, or whether they were impelled by the dynastic ambition of their rulers, by religious enthusiasm or by imperial vanity they have clothed warfare in high-sounding language and it has always had behind it noble emotions and fine endeavor at least on the part of the men actually engaged in it. [page 2]
If we would for a moment dream that we may abolish war by supplementing these historic emotions by others more beneficent, by turning into newer channels the waters which have flowed so long in these heroic ways, then we must put ourselves to it to discover and substitute ideas, to let loose other emotions, to find incentives which shall seem as strenuous, as heroic, as noble and as well worth while as those which have sustained this long struggle of warfare.
Living as we do in an industrial age, it would seem reasonable to look for these substitutes first in the long history of industrial progress. A rapid historic review makes it quite clear that when human life was still in the tribal stage the men of the tribe went forth in numbers in order to secure the raw material for food and shelter and they brought the trophy of the chase back into the tribe, that the women there might transform it into available form; the flesh of the wild creature into proper food and the pelt into clothing. In this early life women performed as positive a service as men did, but owing to a difference in kind, women were trained in patience and endurance, men in heroic and sudden action. Woman's part in this life, broadly speaking, was industrial, as man's was military, but the distinction was made more marked by the fact that the industrial activity was performed more and more in family isolation, while men who went forth to hunt, to pillage and to fight, found their success ever more dependent upon numbers. Men thus early learned to act together, to incite themselves by war cries or by the calls of the chase, to lean upon each other for defense and achievement. While women only occasionally came together in a mutual task, men were constantly driven into an inter-relation and quite naturally and inevitably they developed the beginnings of the army. Finally its very size became an exhilaration, the bigger the army the more sure they were that their cause was just and victory secure.
This broad division between the work of women and men has held throughout the centuries, women's work tending to center in the home, and man's work, even after he organized industry and commerce, still being carried on in groups. Although man pits one group against another in this later organization, and the spirit of competition is but the thinly-disguised spirit [page 3] of war, he still clings to the army, for it represents to him at once his most primitive and most stirring life.
But during the past one hundred years woman's traditional activity has changed its form and her family isolation has been rudely broken in upon. Her historic activities are carried on in great factories, so that if women would continue their old business of turning raw material into food for human consumption, and fashioning fibers and wool into garments, it must be done in inter-relation with hundreds of other people. If women would perform their tasks as efficiently under the factory system of industry as they did formerly under the domestic system of industry they must learn to work in large groups as they learned formerly to work in family isolation.
I think it was Ruskin who used to say that if the first cannon which was fired in the next British war should demolish all the china in every English woman's china-closet, England would never have another war. Let us say that if the first cannon to be fired in the next war should bring to the heart of every woman throughout the two nations involved, the consciousness that it was going to kill thousands of little children either because they were to be deprived of their fathers and of their homes, as they have been in South Africa, or for a dozen other causes, there would not be another war. Of course if women visualized the results of war as they might visualize the destruction of china, there would not be another war. We fail to bring about the end of war simply because our imaginations are feeble. They are so inadequate that they lag behind even the industrial organization of the moment. The poets and the musicians who might help us by an inspirational interpretation of industry also fail us and we do not rise to the occasion which the organization of industry at the present moment offers to women. For the first time in the history of the world women have the opportunity of carrying on their legitimate work in groups and definite inter-relations, not only with each other but with all society. What might not happen if women realized that the ancient family affection, that desire to protect and rear little children which they have expressed so long in isolation, might now be socialized and be brought to bear as a moral force on the current industrial organization. Personally I do not believe that the glamour of war will ever pass to the side of construction and conservation, that it will ever be [page 4] possible to make industry seem as heroic as war has seemed unless we can do something of this sort. Why do we not do it? Do the habits of isolation still cling to women? Do women fail to move forward together because they have lacked the training in comradeship and forward march that the army has afforded to men, or because they have failed to consider these deeper things of life in their social aspects? It may be that they are still content, as they have always been, to look at life from the purely domestic point of view and when industry has changed from the domestic system to the factory system that they are morally totally unprepared to make the corresponding social advance.
Mrs. Nathan has referred to a conference of diplomatic representatives held in Berne last September when fourteen nations agreed that within their borders women should not be permitted to engage in manufacture during the night hours. These diplomatic representatives on that occasion at least dropped the affairs of warfare and statecraft and considered the affairs of industry in their international relation. In doing this they entered into the realm which has traditionally and historically belonged to women. They contended that the health of women gave way under night work, that if long continued it was certain to interfere with their maternal duties and with the vigor of their children, and they were considering the human side of industry when they contemplated the loss to the nation in the sacrifice of child life and of normal domesticity. But although those subjects have always been the concern of women, it is quite safe to assert that women had little part in the calling of this conference, or in carrying it forward. The affairs of the industrial world are largely outside of woman's interest and knowledge, and yet we know that these great industrial processes will not go on properly if they are unregulated and uncared for, that women in failing to ameliorate them, to guide them, to do the things which they have always done are failing simply because industry has suddenly taken a large form. It is no longer domestic, but has become collective. Because we are dull and untaught we are failing to bring into industry that concern for the weak which may express itself through sacrifice and courage, that defense and comradeship which might unite groups of workers into spiritual bonds and lift up industrial progress into a tremendous national [page 5] motive for work and efficiency. When structural iron workers build a bridge, almost exactly the same percentage of them are wounded and killed as of men who engage in battle, but as yet we utterly fail to regard them as an example of industrial heroism, and they fall not as heroes, but as victims.
When men and women meet together to consider seriously what may be done to advance the cause of Peace one longs to make this suggestion, that we pour into industry something of that comradeship which has so long belonged to war, something of that glamour which Tolstoy declares adheres in the drum itself, so that when men hear a certain beat they leave everything to follow the call. Cannot we formulate a call for industrial service? Cannot we predict that woman's traditional work will go forward worthy of its domestic beginnings, that the wolfish eagerness of the chase and of the battlefield shall be mitigated by the [defense] of the weak and the education of the young? War, the old enemy of industry and of the home, many of us believe is passing out of society. It may leave us sordid and materialistic or its passing may prove the challenge to a finer and more humane endeavor than war could possibly arouse.