Peace on Earth, December 1913

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JANE ADDAMS         [image of Jane Addams]      PEACE ON EARTH

At this time of the year, when the message of "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men" is ringing throughout Christendom, it is well to ask ourselves how far universal peace has been achieved among the nations of the earth, and what is actually being done to realize the golden prophecies made so many years ago.

It is especially fitting, this Christmas of 1913, that we should consider Peace and Good Will in its international aspects, because only a few months ago a great palace was opened at The Hague to stand forevermore to all the world as a tangible pledge of a well-planned and continuous effort to substitute an appeal to arbitration for the traditional recourse to warfare. The imposing ceremonies at the opening of the wonderful palace dedicated to universal peace bore testimony that it is constantly becoming clearer to a larger number of people that the world after all is not ruled by armies nor even by men, but by ideas -- that only intangible principles will claim the allegiance of free men.

Great Questions Have Been Settled by Arbitration

Most of us are ready to acknowledge that we are lamentably ignorant of what has already been done to substitute arbitration for warfare. The average citizen still thinks that the settlement of international difficulties by arbitration is something so new and theoretical as safely to be called "impractical," and that the idea may be put to one side as too visionary to concern the man of affairs. He does not know that during the last century alone, since 1815, two hundred and sixty important cases of international difference have been successfully arbitrated; for while rumors of war, its preparation and hideous accomplishment fill the newspapers for weeks, a case of arbitration ordinarily receives but little notice. The most casual newspaper reader, however, will be able to recall the Newfoundland Fisheries dispute which was compromised by The Hague Court in 1910, after a few weeks' deliberation, although diplomacy had struggled with it in vain for a century, and without adjustment the continually recurring difficulties might easily have led to war between England and America. But the average citizen does not now recall that in that same year, 1910, a conference was held in Washington in which the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, Congressmen and Governors participated, urging that an International Court be established for the judicial settlement of international disputes, which should go a step farther than even the Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

The Washington conference held that the time had come for the creation of an international court composed of men who are judges by profession, well versed in international law, which should be concerned not so much with conciliation or the mere settlement of difficulties as with international equity and justice. Such a court would seek gradually to build up a code of international law founded upon "just practices" of nations toward each other.

To Administer a Law Supreme Over All Nations

Because of her experience America would be the natural leader in the formation of such a court, as the Supreme Court of the United States was the first court in history to decide differences between sovereign States. When it was founded the thirteen States insisted that there must be thirteen judges in order properly to represent the interests of each State; quite as many people now insist that the new international court must have a judge from each nation. America, however, is able to demonstrate that at the present moment nine judges properly represent the national interests of forty-eight States, and doubtless in time the test of the international character of a court will be not that it has been established by all the nations whose affairs may come before it, but that it administers a law which is supreme over all the nations.

The objection that there is no international police to enforce the conditions of such a court scarcely seems valid, for quite as public opinion is sufficient to enforce the decisions of the United States Supreme Court, so the nation, having submitted a question to the international court, would scarcely fail to abide by its decision. The very existence of the court, the very codification of the body of international law, would bring about a changed state of mind. There is no doubt that the mere existence of The Hague tribunal has tended to make war hard, that it has induced the nations to search their hearts before they ventured to open hostilities.

But this wise effort to establish an international court is not the only manifestation of the movement toward a world-wide peace. The Interparliamentary Union, composed of hundreds of members and ex-members of the great parliaments of the world, which has been in existence for almost a decade, meets annually to discuss legal matters common to all countries. This International Union might easily be made a quasi-popular branch of an international legislature, as an embryo upper house already exists in The Hague Conference. "The Parliament of the World" prefigured by Tennyson would thus gradually develop in response to genuine need, which is the soundest possible origin for any institution.

The International Aspects of Commerce

Of course these various efforts to settle international difficulties without warfare are but the results of a steady growth of international sentiment which manifests itself in many ways. Perhaps the most striking manifestation among our own contemporaries is the international outlook resulting from "a world market" and the ever-increasing interdependence of commercial relations. Quite recently a leading citizen in Chicago told me that his business interests in Russia had never recovered from the profound disturbance caused by the war with Japan, and that conservative business men could no longer stand for such stupendous folly; although nothing would have astounded this man more than to have been told that he was reflecting the attitude of the Pacifists, his very words suggested the theme of Norman Angell's recent book, with its powerful presentation of the folly and illusion of war.

There is an entire literature on the subject of the international aspects of commerce written by such men as Thomas F. [Woodlock], former editor of the "Wall Street Journal," and George [Paish], editor of the "London Statist," men who could hardly be accused of "sentimentality." The following titles are taken at random: "The International Banking and its Important Influence on International Unity," "Finance and Commerce, Their Relation to International Good Will," "International Investments and International Unity."

During President's Taft's negotiations of the universal arbitration treaty with Great Britain and France one hundred and eighty Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce in the leading cities of the United States, Great Britain and France sent resolutions approving the action and urging its consummation.

Billions are Spent Annually for Standing Armies

In addition to the damage done by war to legitimate commerce the advocates of international peace further claim that it is very bad business for the nations of the world to expend annually $2,500,000,000 in the maintenance of standing armies and in preparations for war. That a young and peaceful nation like our own should spend more than sixty-seven [percent] of its entire annual Federal revenue on armaments and war debts is surely appalling. The cost of building one battleship is $10,000,000, more than all that the cities, States or nation spend on the fight against tuberculosis, although there are 130,000 deaths from this disease alone in the United States every year, and 470,000 more deaths from other preventable diseases.

It has been estimated that since the debt incurred in the Boer War it has been impossible for England to make adequate expenditures for the betterment of life in behalf of millions of her people. Slowly, however, the English Parliament itself is beginning to see that the disgrace of government is not in the absence of military glory, but in the continued existence of remedial social evils. To quote the words of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer: "The stain on the national flag is just as deep if that flag floats over slum-bred children and ill-paid, ill-fed, ill-housed men and women as if it were to droop in defeat on the field of battle." Such ringing words may encourage us to believe that we shall soon have a new standard of values as between the interests of the people and the pomp and glory of war.

The newspapers which have so often in the past been responsible for the manufacturing of war sentiment are beginning to turn the searchlight upon the activities of private special interests whose dividends depend on the expenditure of public money for military and naval expansion; while other newspapers which defend this ever-increasing expenditure and help it along by "war scares" are being known as "the armor-plate press."

Government by "Leadership and Judgment"

Very similar to the national sentiment engendered by expanding commerce is that brought about by the constant stream of immigration which has characterized the last fifty years. The army of men who land on American soil every year come not for war, but for industry. Although many of these men return home again the very fact that they have helped develop the resources of America in the factories and mines and railroads gives them a sense of proprietorship which they will always keep although they may never cross the Atlantic again.

It has been said that the inventions of the Nineteenth Century made men neighbors, and the results of these inventions in transportation and communication in the Twentieth Century are fast making them brothers. The very problems of this interdependent life tend to international discussion and regulation.

An international white-slave treaty was signed by various European powers in Paris in 1904, that young girls might be protected from international exploitation as each country had endeavored to protect them at home. More recently still the representatives of twelve great nations, meeting in Switzerland, agreed that none of them would employ women in industry at night and that laws prohibiting night work for women should be rigidly enforced within their borders.

All such agreements point to the conclusion that the world is slowly returning to the Greek conception of government, that it is founded upon "leadership and judgment," which, after all, seems sounder than that dictum of the Latins which has so long survived in the Western world that "government is the actual power to command."

World-Wide Social and Political Reforms

There is always a constant manifestation of internationalism in the social and political reforms which are world-wide. Great ideas seize the human imagination, pulling as by a mighty undertow the best feelings and thought of the times in one direction. It does not require a social philosopher to draw attention to the fact that our age is characterized by an international attempt to enter into government on the part of those hitherto without the franchise. This desire, although opposed to their philosophy, has reached even Mohammedan countries; Turkey recently adopted a constitution, and Persia is at present working toward one; India, in spite of its caste system, is formulating its demands, and Russia, Portugal and China have recently established them.

The same movement may be traced among women all over the world, who are claiming and receiving a place in representative government. We may cite Finland, where women are sitting in the National Parliament; Sweden, where they recently procured the full franchise; New Zealand and Australia, where they have exercised it for a quarter of a century, and the discussion of it as an immediate possibility in France and Belgium, or its actual accomplishment for a few women in China and for four million women in the United States.

At the great World's Fair in St. Louis, held at the time Russia and Japan were at war with each other, at one of the evening conferences a young Japanese scientist was introduced to the audience with the statement that he had that day shaken hands with a Russian scholar congratulating him upon a paper read upon their mutual specialty. The chairman further added that he ventured to state that nowhere else on that day the world around had any other Japanese shaken hands with any other Russian. When the young Japanese, somewhat disconcerted by this introduction, arose to address the audience, he said that he had not for a moment forgotten his loyalty to the Mikado, and he was sure that the Russian had not forgotten the Czar, but for that one moment of enthusiasm they had met in that "larger kingdom of the mind."

A Christianity Which Shall Embrace All Nations

After all it is in that "larger kingdom of the mind" that the spirit of internationalism first developed and has always flourished. The artists during the stormiest period of the feudal ages always carried "the truce of God" with them. Giotto entered through the breached walls of Florence that he might paint allegorical pictures of the blessings of peace in the town hall, because he moved on an international plane high above petty warfare, and as an artist strove to establish order and beauty even in the midst of destruction.

This international spirit has also long characterized the men devoted to science, to letters and to philosophy, but above all those men and institutions who were concerned with religion. The dream of a universal church, of a Christianity which should embrace all the nations of the earth whom God "hath made of one blood for to dwell on all the face of the earth" must continue to lure "the men of God" of each generation, until the Christmas message has attained a most glorious consummation.

Jane Addams [signed]