Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol 1, No. 12 June 22, 1938
Women of the Streets
Women of the Streets.
Approximately once every three weeks, on arriving in the City, one is accosted by belligerent painted women smiling lurid artificial smiles and ratting tin boxes plastered with labels.
One observes people, wearing hideous pieces of colored paper in their buttonholes, striding past these women with smug, complacent, respectable looks on their faces, while others lacking this Badge of Honour, creep furtively past them, or even cross the street to avoid these insistent Women of the Streets. The women might be lepers, rattling a box instead of ringing a bell.
But it's only a Street Day. The Lazaruses are only "workers"; the furtive ones are only the poor.
The extraordinary institution of Charity is as anomalous and yet as filmy engrave on the minds of the people as Capitalism, the system which is the father of Charity. We are faced with the stark fact of [unclear: Po[gap — reason: illegible]erty] we feel that we have "done our bit" by putting a shilling in a box or sending a bundle of cast-off clothes to the City Mission. The masses believe that the problems of the world could be solved it everyone subscribed generously to systems of blackmail such as Street Days.
Immediate relief of poverty is estimable but utterly inadequate; it's like staving off toothache with a deadening drug.
There must be something more.
There must be conscious and unselfish mass effort to eradicate the root causes of Poverty, to reform the system responsible for it and to awaken the masses to their responsibilities.
And unless a man is prepared to assist in this effort, he is merely a coward and a hypocrite when he drops his shilling in the box.
But it'll still go on. To be blackmailed by a box-rattler is so conveniently respectable.
The poetry of my life has become the poetry of construction.