Carrie Chapman Catt

This Changing World - Dec. 3, 1930

Carrie Chapman Catt
December 03, 1930
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Philosophers have found a new phrase which they like better than any other - it sounds so wise and scholarly - this changing phrase. They tell us that men are no longer thinking the same thoughts nor doing the same things as were their habits before the Great War. They are changing the old into a new world and filling it with new thoughts and things.

They point to very ancient history when they claim men of highest development could only manage to adopt on the average one new idea in a thousand years. Even so, the process was painful and was invariably accompanied by the incidents of assassination, murder, exile, war confiscation of property, destruction of towns and cities, fire and brimstone.

The time cane when men thought faster and here and there clever nations actually achieved a new idea about every five hundred years. Long after, an enterprising nation like ours, well stuffed with education and enlightenment, often hurried a new idea through all its necessary stages at the rate of one to a century. For example, it required a hundred years of very hard work and much eloquence to stop the importation of slaves and another hundred years, including a Civil War, was needed to free them. From the time when the American Colonies first tried to prevent the sale of rum to savage Indians down to modern prohibition lies two hundred years. It look 150 years to get woman suffrage sufficiently discussed to persuade statesmen that it might safely be put into the constitution. Even the story of the tariff would fill a century's record.

We may boast of our speed and logic in settling knotty questions, but one distinguished scholar gives our nation a sharp thrust when he says that we meet the nation's problems frankly "but with the mental equipment of adolescence."

So it happened that after the great was the first step onward in making over the old world into the new was the determination to put war out of it. Thousands of men and women ranged themselves on the side of the new idea and thousands more said that was always had been and, therefore, always would be. For eleven years these two groups, in forums, conferences, schools, classes, lectures, and round tables, have discussed the war and peace problem up and down, back and forth, and the statesmen of the great nations have led the world forward along dependable trails toward peace.

In 1925 another Conference, among many, took place in Washington. It was different from all the others. Nine dignified women sat in a row upon the platform and each was the president of a national organization with an enormous membership. Yet no one of these nine organizations was a peace society. Each had a distinct aim of its own, but, together, these organizations had agreed to call scholars, experts, and philosophers to tell them the story of war and to find, if possible, a common program leading to peace. In that first convention of 1925 two hundred and fifty-seven causes of actual wars were listed, a condition well-nigh overwhelming. Following conferences brought expected but more optimistic facts.

No sensible person now believes that modern wars have causes; everyone knows that, instead, they have excuses; wars go on because nations have the habit and the precedent.

The Women's Conference on the Cause and Cure of War have learned three things and learned them very well.

  1. The 257 causes of war found in 1925 have been reduced to one. That one is the competition of the war systems of nations. That caused the Great War and will cause the next war, if there is one.
  2. All possible cures of war have likewise been reduced to one: the demobilization of the war institution, not by ruthless destruction, but, bit by bit, as fast and as far as it may be replaced by a well constructed successfully operating peace institution. War, then, is reduced to one cause, one cure.
  3. The work yet to be accomplished before there will be a warless world is the demobilization of the war system and the mobilization of a substituted peace system. It sounds simple. A few year ago no one in the world recognized any one of these three points as truths. Now thousands of men and women know these are unconvertible, fixed facts. Truths spread; what a few know today, many others know tomorrow. "The man who says a thing can't be done is liable to wake up shortly and find somebody doing it."

Certainly within the past ten years more constructive progress has been made toward permanent peace than in all the fifty millions of years preceding it. A League of Nations, with most of the world's states in its membership, has pledged itself to find a way to abolish war. A World Court, first suggested by our own nation at the Hague Conference in 1899, and again in 1907, has been established with fifty nation members. The Briand-Kellogg Pact has been ratified by most of the nations of the world, all agreeing to renounce war and to settle disputes arising with another nation by peaceful methods. Treaties of arbitration have been signed by the dozen until a virtual compact binding all the nations of the world together has been affected. Thus peace machinery, brave and constructive, has been created and, like a fence around the institution of war, holds it fast. On the other hand, the demobilization of war machinery is under way.

Yet, nowhere have men ceased marching, flying, building ships, making munitions, inventing new equipment, and everywhere taxpayers note that despite all the peace conferences, the burdensome cost of war rises each year. Prof. Latane says that the cost of maintaining the League of Nations for one year is the equal of the cost of one submarine, the cost of maintaining the World Court is equal to about half a submarine. Senator Borah, commenting upon these figures, said that Great Britain and the United States lead the world in two things -- in talking about peace and in expanding money for armament.

A funny man wrote a funny skit. "Gee, you ought to live in fresh water awhile," said the salmon to the whale. "What's fresh water?" asked the whale. "It's free from salt," answered the salmon. "Salt? What's salt?" asked the whale. "It's what the ocean is full of" quoth the salmon. "What's the ocean?" queried the whale. The whale, you see, had no means of comparison because he had never been anywhere. He didn't even know he was a whale.

So the peace man and the war man may debate in the same silly way until the war man becomes a peace man and the changing world becomes fixed as a peace world.

In January, 1931, the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War will hold its Sixth Conference in Washington. The cooperating organizations now number eleven:

American Association of University Women
Council of women for Home Missions
Federation of Women's Boards of Foreign Missions of North America
General Federation of Women's Clubs
National Board of the Young Women's Christian Associations
National Council of Jewish Women
National League of Women Voters
National Woman's Christian Temperance Union
National Women's Trade Union League
National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs
National Women's Conference of American Ethical Union

What will they do? They will learn how to give the strongest possible argument for every acceptable step forward toward construct- [unreadable] proposal. They will form a body of well-informed, enlightened peace makers and from this center, like rays of the sun, truth will radiate until the whole sky is emblazoned with its light. Women are enlisted in the business of changing the world from old to new. They are pretty certain that this is one thing they are here for. They are spreading fast and far the new philosophy. Man peace makers will preach, but women peace makers will to make no pause until the old system has given way to the new and ours has become a warless world. We are not yet fixing the date, but it will not be far distant.

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