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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 9. June 5, 1952

What's Happened To Our Conciences?

What's Happened To Our Conciences?

A Writer in "Canta" (Canterbury College students paper) last year suggested a parallel between Korea today and Spain 1936-39. Then and there as now in Korea, a people was made it guinea-pig for methods of war calculated to he later spread to a world scale. I shall leave it to others to compare Hitler's "Blitzkrieg" with MacArthur's "Total Interdiction" described in Thompson's nightmare book "Cry Korea." All I wish to do is draw a contrast between the reaction of students to world affairs in two periods separated by only a dozen or fifteen years.

In 1936 the student mind was excited. There had been a big slump which kicked the back-side of complacency, and the gradual encroachments of fascist terror were met with immediate and enthusiastic indignation. Besides this, the chaes of the west, contrasted with the then little-censorred news-flood from the Soviet Union helped turn the student mind leftward. "Salient of 1938-39, and odd articles in "Spike" of the period, Illustrate this point very forcibly. Students were really worried about how their brothers were faring in war-torn Spain, and how learning was treated by the rival forces of Fascism and democracy—which include communism in those days.

In 1950-52 there is a student generation which cannot remember the stump, and which went through school in the days of the war. Its conscience seems to have been brutalised, and its consciousness stifled. Truly, there is some concern for principle among one section of the students. Resolutions of recent Congresses, and last year's s.g.m. on the Emergency Regulation!, indicates the continued existence of a spark.

Yet where is the preliminary ripple of a great tide such as the Limes demand? flow many lift their noses out of a Latin book to think about Malan's vicious racialism, recent heresy-huntings in United States colleges, or the moral Justification for German and Japanese rearmament? Apparently the divorcement in our times of theory from practice is so great that not even our Political Science students can draw con temporary conclusions and raise some sort of block voice. Things are moving far faster than they were in the days of Spain, but what poets are writing about subjects not directly connected with their genitalia? Is there not a crying need for a new-Day Lewises?

There is a sheer disinterest. It even invades tutorials in the Arts faculty. Response to a suggestion that might be expected to lift the roof, is a shrug or the shoulders: "So what?"

Exactly the same response comes from an attempt to interest people in the possibility that germ warfare may be being used in Korea, or that the jellied petrol bomb in use against civil populations is a bad thing. What's happened to our conscience? Don't we care anymore if the students of another country have their lives cut short in agony, or turned into a chaotic desert?

Above all have we forgotten the Donne quotation, so popular in Spanish war days: "No man is an island entire of itself. Each man is a piece of the continent. . . . Therefore, seek not to know for whom the bell lolls. It Tolls for Thee."