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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Personal Volume

Needs of peace. The ideal state. Address ... at the Unitarian Church ... Dec. 15, 1918

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Needs of Peace

The Ideal State

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Address by Sir Robert Stout.

At the Unitarian Church on Sunday night. December 15th. 1918. Sir Robert Stout (Chief [unclear: Justice]) delivered an address on "The Needs of Peace." He said:

We have witnessed during the past four years the greatest war that the world has ever seen. History does not record any war in which there have been such vast armies in conflict, such diverse war machines, and such numerous arms of defence. Many wars have lasted longer, but in no war have the casualties been so large, and the destruction of property so enormous. The record of brutal atrocities which have been committed in hardly credible when we consider the effort for civilisation which have been made during the past five hundred years. Civilised usages and humanitarian rules have been thrown aside, and treaties and agreements have been broken. It is well accredited that more than one million Armenians, men, women and children, have been murdered; that many thousands of Serbian non-combatants, men, women and children, have been massacred; and that unnameable brutalities have been committed on the Belgians, on the French, on the Poles, on the Serbians, and on the Lithuanians. Can we ever forget how many Allied prisoners in Germany and Austria have been put to death through ill-treatment; how hospital ships and hospitals on land have been attacked; how non-combatant ships like the Lusitania have been tor- page 4 pedoed, and innocent women and children muredered? We need not dwell on individual instances of brutality such as the murders of Nurse Cavell and Captain Frvatt. The story of this war surpasses the stories of all pastpast wars, in its record of the premeditated murder of non-combatants. No wonder that the conduct of the Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, Turks, and Bulgarians has been characterised as barbarous, and their people as barbarians. There is no doubt about the lamentable facts. Impartial Commissions, after careful and prolonged investigations, have verified the frightful atrocities with which our enemies have been charged.

Science and Religion.

The question has been raised, what has been the cause of this terrible outburst of barbarity? It is not my intention to-night to trace the cause; but as it has been attributed to the spread of scientific thought, or what by a dyslogistic or name-calling phrase is termed "materialism," we must not overlook certain facts. In the first place, we must be on our guard in assuming, when dealing with the cause of an event, that the mere succession of events implies a casual connection between those events. The old fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc is not uncommon. There has been a wonderful development of scientific-knowledge in the past sixty years. In the same period there has also been amongst educated people an abandonment of many religious dogmas. We must not, however, assume that because some old beliefs have been given up, and because science has shown that they are without evidence, and unverifiable, that therefore we have descended to a state of barbarism. To test such an a legagation, we would have to find out what are the beliefs of the present day barbarians. There is no evidenee that the Kaiser and his generals are not Christians and believers in all the dogmas of Christianity. Some are Protestants, some are page 5 Roman Catholics, and some are Greek Catholics. We know that in all the nations of Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria, religions education of the young is insisted upon. In Germany, which is the most barbaric of all these nations, the teaching of the orthodox Christian beliefs is compulsory. Nor is this barbarity that we have witnessed a new phase of German life. We know what happened a few years ago in China. The nations of Germany, France, United States of America, Russia, England and Japan made war on china, and what is the record of their conduct? The most barbarous of all China's enemies was the German army. Nor was this surprising when it is remembered that the commands given by the Kaiser to the soliders before starting from were that were to imitate the doings of the Huns, as recorded in history. They were to take no pr[unclear: i]soners and exhibit no mercy. Impartial Englishmen have told us of the conduct of these armies in China, and it is admitted that the most humane of all the armies was the Japanese. Japan is not a Christian nation.

I shall state two further facts in this connection. We have heard and read of ecclesiastics depicting the dangers of civilisation dependent on secular education, or, as they call it, "Godless schools." How do those nations stand who have had secular education? In this war how have the French soldiers behaved, and how have our New Zealand lads acquitted themselves? This is how one of the most eminent Scotfish clergymen spoke of the New Zealanders—I quote from a letter of the Very Rev. Dr. John Kelman, of Edinburgh.; He said: "I have been along with our fighting troops, have seen them before going into battle, and spoke with some of the gallant men who survived some of the most awful tasks of the war, and I can assure you that no part of my whole experience of the army has impressed me more than the charaeter, loyalty and page 6 power of the New Zealand troops."

It is unnecessary to refer further to the absurd charge that materialism is the cause of German barbarity. Have we not read the pronouncement of German Protestant divinity professors, the sermons of German Evangelical clergyman who dauded the German offensive, and had no adverse criticism of German atrocities; and have we not perused the request of the great and noble Cardinal Mercier to his fellow Catholic Bishops in Germany to pronounce against the barbarity with which the Belgian people were treated? They did not respond to Cardinal Mercier's request, and so far as I know, no Bavarian. Prussian or Austrian, Prince, general or military leader has been expelled from the Catholic Church for the barbarities they permitted the German troops to commit. We know that French, English and American Catholics have fought with their Protestant brethren against German barbarity, but both Protestant and Catholic Germans and Austrians have committed untold crimes against humanity. It cannot be said that the Kaiser and his generals were not professed believers in the Christian dogms, and punctilious in their observance of Christian ordinances. Their belief, had not been much influenced by the new thought that is abroad in the world.

Pressing Needs.

Leaving, however, the causes of the barbarities in this is great war, let us consider some of the needs of peace. The first of those needs is that justice should be taught that wrong-doing not pay, There must be restitution, and there must, be retribution. What from these are to take, we must leave to the wise and humane statesmen who will sit round the table at the Peace Conference. There are pressing needs that we have as a people to consider. Our people have suffered greviously. Our nation needs restoration and re-building, though our task in this respect is easy page 7 compared with the task in front of France, of Belgium, of Serbia, of Roumania, and even of the United Kingdom. Alas! alas! we cannot restore our brave dead to life: they have died for us.

These are our martyrs, and their blood the seed
Of nobler futures. "Twas for us they died,
Keep we their memory green.

This be their epitaph, "Traveller, South or West,
Go, say at home we heard the trumpet call.
And answered. Now bebside the sea we rest,
Our end was happy if our country thrives,
Much was demanded, Lo! our store was small,
That which we had, we gave—it was our lives."

Let us resolve that the great and willing sacrifices they made were not in vain, but that they will lead to the establishment of a more noble nation, to a much higher and more humane social life.

We may class the Needs of Peace under three heads. Our Dominion has lost heavily in human life and financially, but perhaps we are better off than any other part of our Empire. So far as our loss of brave women and men are concerned, they cannot be replaced, and their loss must be borne with resignation.

Dealing with our finances, we find that our funded debt has enormously increased, and, unlike some other portions of our debt, it has been increased for works that will give us no direct return. Heavier taxation is in front of us, and we must meet our new burdens in the only way they can be met by honest people, namely, by hard work, thrift and enterprise. If we do not proceed in this way to meet our liabilities, page 8 we shall suffer much privation. We must expect that after a while the prices of our exports will fall, and this may entail the reduction of wages. Of course the fall in prices will mean that the cost of living will be less, but our capital for production will be restricted, and it may mean that living may have to be reduced to a lower standard. Everyone must deplore even the suggestion of such a thing, and the only way to keep the standard high is to resolve not to expend our means for that which profiteth not.

Efficiency of Labour.

Labour, it is often said, is the basis of wealth; it is the foundation on which prosperity must be built, but without saving and thrift there can be not stable prosperity. To make labour efficient, three things are needed; a higher physical life, a higher intellectual life, and a higher social or ethical life. Let us briefly examine these three needs. A sick person, we all admit, cannot be an efficient worker. We must therefore regard public health, as our highest concern. Have we considered the many things required to obtain and maintain public health? A few may be enumerated. We need clean cities and clean dwellings, sunlight and pure air. These cannot be obtained if we have narrow streets and no open spaces and no gardens, and if we tolerate slums and crowded tenemente. Wide streets are sunlight. The height of buildings should be limited. It is true, so far as Wellington is concerned, that we have a great advantage. We have a huge reserve seven miles wide in our harbour which cannot be built upon, and our southerlies bring health-giving ozone from the Southern Ocean. But those who laid out our city had not the ideas we have now about garden cities, with wide streets and beauty spots. Our cities and dwellings, too, must be kept narrow streets must be widened and in- page 9 sanitary dwellings demolished. No one class or party can be blamed for our present conditions. The blame rests on the community as a whole.

It is a pity, however, that forty years ago we were not alert, enough, and had not vision enough to lay the foundations of our city on broader lines. May I add a personal note? It is over 44 years ago since I pointed out to the Wellington people the need of wider streets, and how they might be secured. We must have more and better dwelling houses, and greater amenities for our people. Much has been done in this respect since I first knew Wellington, now about 45 years ago, but much has yet to be done. In tact no one who saw Wellington 45 years ago could have imagined that so many improvements would have been made in this time. We must march forward, considering what will tend to make our people physically strong.

Drink and Smoking.

Our youths should be in the open air, and in the sunlight, as much as possible. They should be encouraged to play outdoor games and to lead an out-door life. They must learn that indulgence in alcohol or tobacco or other drugs tends to physical degeneration, and not to the strengthening of their powers. This indulgence in the drug habit must be given up if we are to maintain a healthy race. The liquor question is prominently before our people, and the point of view regarding alcohol has completely changed during the past twenty years. Alcohol is of no use but an injury to a healthy person, and is rarely required by one who is sick. How long, I wonder, is the alcohol habit to be allowed to injure our race? There is another evil that is increasing amongst our young people—the smoking of cigarettes. I have on several occasions in my walks from my house to my chambers counted the number of youths. I have seen smoking, and I have been ap- page 10 palled at the number. In one day I noticed eighty per cent of youths dressed in khaki smoking cigarettes, and on several days I have noticed a majority of those going to offices and shops puffing away at cigarettes and pipes. It is a habit that is most harmful. Elbert Hubbard—and no one was more favourable to youths having amusement and fun—denounced the cigarette habit, and I quote a sentence or two from his very important pamphlet, "The Cigarettist." He said:—"Cigarette smokers art often active, alert, competent men. They are quick to see an opportunity, ready to take advantage of it, appreciative, sympathetic, kind. But when you see such a one, he is in his prime, at his best; his star is at the zenith., not on the horizon or at nadir. Never again will he be as much of a man as he is now. His future lies behind. He is not growing into a better man. He is not in the line of evolution. If you want a man who will train on, flee the cigarettist as you would a pestilence. He will surely disappoint you. And the better and brighter your young man, the faster his descent to Avernus.

Cigarette-smoking is all right until the habit begins foreclosure proceedings, then Reelzebub himself (prince of lawyers) cannot vacate them—you go to the devil's auction."

Do we appreciate the vast number of cigarettes on which duty is paid for home consumption every year? For nine months of 1918 there were 616, 413lb weight of [unclear: cigarettes enteren] for home consumption—the number would be approximately 380,000,000; and for the whole year, if there was the same rate of consumption, there would be about 500,000,000 500,000,000. With duty added the cost of tobacco per annum, including cigarettes, etc., is about one and a quarter million pounds, and if we add to that vast amount importers' profits, and expenses, and retailers' profits and charges. I should think another quarter of a mil- page 11 lion would be a moderate estimate, and that would meun a sum of £1,500,000 spent on tobacco.

The annual cost of alcohol is about four millions: all this is waste and tends to inefficiency. Dr. Kellog, in a lecture recently deli vered in New York before the National Associations of Life Underwriters stated that the mortality of moderate drinkers is double that of abstainers, and that the records of the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company, covering a period of 60 years, show that the mortality of smokers is 57.6 Per cent. greater than that of non-smokers. From a mere economic point of view we cannot afford the waste that is going on in the use of alcohol and tobacco in this country. It is now about £5,000,000. Even if indulgence in these two drugs were not harmful, their use is indefensible, for they do not make our people efficient and they are a waste of money. Neithet alcohol nor tobaccois a necessity. An incident in Sir Isaac Newton 's life might be recalled in this connection: who, when he was asked why he never smoked, replied, "I am unwilling to make to myself any necessities."

Open-Air Life.

We must encourage our young men to seek amusement in other directions. There should be numerous open spaces tor gaames, and there should be public gardens, rending-rooms, art galleries, boating sheds, bathing places, and naturalist societies—everything that will tend to the upbringing healthy people and the giving to our young people sensible and reasonable amusement in the open air. What are the habits of some of our youths? Many get up in the morning just in time to get their breakfast; and are not out of doors before breakfast. As soon as they have breakfast they start for shop or office or work and on the way three-fourths of them will be seen smoking cigarettes. Even at work some of them are allowed to smoks. In going to, and coming from lunch, there is more smoking, and page 12 on leaving business in the evening there is recourse again to the cigarette. After dinner there is smoking again, and perhaps if there is no visit to a picture theatre, the worship of the goddess Nicotine will continue. Very few ever open a book they do not take a hand in any out-of-door game. What do they know of the life-giving forces of fresh air and of sunlight? If they want to live a healthy and rational life they should get up early in the morning certainly not later than six o'clock in the summer and seven in the winter. They should get outside as soon as possible for a swim or a walk, or engage in some naturalist work, taking an interest in plant-life or in entomology, and spend some time in reading. One night every week they ought certainly to spend other suggestions that might be made for the improvement of their physical health. Let us never forget that as the Prime Minister of England has said you cannot have an Al nation with a C3 population.

Intellectual, Needs.

I come now to a second need, namely, a higher intellectual life. That can only be obtained by study—by a love of books. A course of study in the leading literary works that have been published in England and America would help to broaden the mind, and profitably occupy the time of our young men and women. No doubt we have many good students in our Universities, and no doubt we have many good students who have never been in a University College, but they are few—they are in the minority. Workers' Educational Association are now started, and these, it is hoped, will be continued and extended. We also need better and many more reading-rooms. We ought also to encourage and increase the membership of our young men's clubs, where there should be rooms set apart for reading, as well as for games in bad weather, like chess and draughts, and cards, provided there is page 13 no gambling. Encouragement should also be given to debating classes and to lectures. Our young men should be encouraged to put their thoughts on questions of the day in writing. We need still greater development in our educational machinery, and in deeper study for more light on literary and scientific subjects. If we are to be a great people we must have further intellectual development. We must remember that in the past as in the present the leading nations or peoples are those who have excelled in mental and industrial training.

The third need of peace is a higher social or ethical life. There has been a great development in humanism amongst the British race during the last fifty years, and humanism is well devloped amongst ourselves. One has only to consider how our Dominion has rallied to the aid of those who went to the war; what gifts have been freely given; what work they accomplished, and how the poorest amongst us were a generous if not more generous, than the rich; and during the fateful [unclear: epidem.] we have had we have seen thrilling examples of the same humanism, and of true heroism. We have found our people working together, caring nothing for differences of nationality, or of religion, or of beliefs. All have joined to help those who needed assistance, and the poorest were as ready as the wealthy to lend their aid. Humanism has brought amongest us a new force which can be still further developed. Many partitions have been erected amongst us that keep us apart; class partitions, theological partitions, party partitions, but when the need comes for some great human effort for human life, for human happiness, we are glad to notice that thosethose partitions have broken down. They have been so broken down during the past four years of sore trial and suffering. May this habit continue to grow!

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Settlement of Disputes.

For the sake of humanity and of peace we need to have all our disputes settled by judicial tribunals. The most thoughtful, the most enlightened and the most civilised of the human race see that the only chance of preventing war is to have great tribunals to settle disputes between nations. In all civilised communities disputes, between individuals are settled by judicial tribunals, and all industrial disputes, as well as other disputes amongest ourselves, will have to be settled in this way. Strikes ought to be unknown; lock-outs ought to be unknown. If there is any dispute between employer and employee an Arbitration Court ought to settle it. We must also realise that we must consider the rights of our neighbour as well as our own affairs, and unless we have love and consideration for our fellows we have not succeeded in attaining a high social life. This is one of the needs of the future. We must have a humanist religion. It in not to be expected that people can get rid of their past beliefs and past associations; but I do not see why all religionists—by whatever name they are called—should not unite to gain this great object of having an ethical and social life that will no longer tolerate crime, harshness, cruelty, or domination, and which will insist that every dispute between citizens must be settled according to rational and humanist principles. That is what is meant by Peace, and it is one of the most pressing needs of all nations. The way of evolution does not come by Bolshevrk practices, no r by war; revolution is war, and often the worst kind of warfare. If we attain these needs I have mentioned, we shall have gone far towards the attainment of a new and ideal state, whose people will have a religion according to the definition given by a recent writer, who, when asked what religion is, replied: "To love justice and mercy, to pity the suffering, to [unclear: consist] page 15 the weak, to forget wrongs and remember benefits, to love the truth and liberty, to cherish wife and child and friend, to make a happy home, to love the beautiful in art and in Nature, to cultivate the mind, to be brave and cheerful and to make others happy, to fill life with the splendour of generous acts and the warmth of loving words, to discard error and destroy prejudice, to receive new truths with gladness, and to cultivate hope; to do the best that can be done, and then be resigned. That is religion."