Blessings in Disguise


By Lulu MacClure Clarke, St. Louis.

The horrors of this almost world-wide war cannot be overestimated. Nausea and shock, indignation and pity, have well-nigh consumed us. Wherein lies any good, we say, in a conflict inexcusable, malevolent and devastating?

We bear not only the gifts, but the burden of all the ages. We have reached a point where we feel that burden must be shifted, or ideal

ized or abolished. Harmony and growth must characterize all the things that the modern intelligence and modern conscience are willing to retain. Our last five decades are eminent in four respects, viz.: (1) Woman’s development along industrial and political lines; (2) humanitarian enterprises; (3) the desire for universal peace; (4) a more general and increasing democracy. The struggle for each of these has cost money, blood and tears. Each had unquestioned value. Each was inevitable. Be yond these, we had no hope, no ideal, no dream; for, granted these, all things else fine and splendid were an individual matter, with none to hinder and all to help.

“Death,” said Frohman, standing at the rail as the Lusitania went down, “death is the Great Adventure!” These hundreds of thousands mangled victims of countless atrocities have adventured forth to a better condition than they, or we, could secure for them, and, dying. they have brought to life in us sympathy and Justice, Brotherhood and Comprehension. In the long run-the Scheme Divine-are these things not more than blood and bone?

Has not the torture of man and beast aroused the world to the fact, as nothing else could do, that needless suffering is a wicked thing? We have prayed endlessly for Peace, Has not this cataclysm sickened the world with war and all that pertains thereto? We have bought with a price-Arbitration. Man said that woman had strength of neither mind nor body to do any of the things for which she had educated her. self and wished to do. He fought her entry into politics, the professions, the trades. War came. She took up successfully municipal management, factory control, police duty, banks, horseshoeing, street car conducting, motor driving, carpentry and everything else she had occasion to do. She insisted upon and received a man’s wage. In Denmark full suffrage had been granted her. Her battle is practically won. Self-reliant, self-respecting, she will never return to the old industrial and political bondage, nor will the newer, better man wish her to do so.

Eugenics, race suicide, child labor, everything that pertains to better race-building, has been ignored as a woman’s fad. War’s devastation, the slaughter, juvenile privation and the coming back of the physically worthless to reproduce the race has aroused the world as nothing else could, to the woman’s cry, “The child must be well born,” “We die,” say those in the trenches, “but the race, and a better race, lives.” Alcoholism, with its attendant physical evils, its crime and heartbreak, was abolished in Russia-because of the war–at one stroke of the pen. In England and France, for the same reason, it has been greatly lessened and practically abolished.

But underneath all this, the hardness and belligerency, the injustice to won an and child, the selfishness, the sordidness, lies the basic cause-an unfair social arrangement which the war has begun-and, I believe, successfully to overthrow.

We wanted work for the unemployed. We wanted the full value of our toil. We wanted the full public ownership of transportation, telegraph and telephone, coal mines and what not. We were told that it was impossible, unjust, absurd; but when war broke out, promptly the governments proceeded to do all these things. What any government can do for its citizens in time of war it can also do for its citizens in time of peace. Through a military necessity, the worker has been shown that private ownership in public utilities is neither necessary nor right. He has been shown that it can be overturned quickly, easily, with no social upheaval of any sort or kind. It is a lesson he will not soon forget. Well nourished, secure, with mind alert and hearts aglow, as free men and free women, we rise to face the coming dawn, and for ourselves and for the continental dead, we say in consecration and in gratitude, “No man liveth unto himself and no man dieth unto himself.”