Readers of the Ministry will be interested in a report of the recent Student Volunteer Movement convention held in Buffalo, December 30 to January 3. Two of the convention addresses were worthy of special consideration. The first, by Kirby Page, editor of The World Tomorrow, was entitled, "A Critical Analysis of Western Civilization," and the other, by Prof. Ralph Harlow, of Smith College, dealt with noncombatancy and disarmament.
It was a matter of surprise to me to observe how closely men of other faiths are watching the trend of affairs, and are stirred by the developments of the present day. The Saviour warned us to watch. Watching closely for the fulfillment of prophecy is undoubtedly what Jesus referred to as the command was given in connection with the signs of His coming. Matt. 25:13. Too many watchmen depend on others to do the watching for them. They take what others pass to them instead of digging out facts for themselves. It has been truly said that there are many echoes in the world, but few voices.
Kirby Page outlined the flow of wealth into the hands of the few, while the multitude are in penury and suffering for the necessities of life.
"The contrast between plenty and poverty is one of the marked characteristics of our present society. Due to the unparalleled scientific and technological progress of the past century, industry is now able to produce goods in vastly greater quantities than can be sold. Every branch of industry is equipped to produce from two to ten times as many goods as can profitably be disposed of, with the result that we have overproduction all along the line. On the farm, as well as in the city, improved machinery has made available an output far in excess of the purchasing ability of the world market. Warehouses are therefore bursting with goods and granaries are overflowing with food.
"Control of land, natural resources, and the tools of production, has enabled a small minority to accumulate wealth on a scale that was not dreamed of even by kings in past generations."
In dealing with the preparations and agitation for another war, he used the following forceful language:
"At this critical period, when the fires of international fear and hatred are burning furiously, the militarists of the various countries are pouring oil on the flames by campaigns of military preparedness. Everywhere efforts are being made to militarize the public mind by singing the old songs: war is inevitable; preparedness for war is the best guaranty of peace; treaties of peace and international agencies of justice are futile unless backed by armed force. Through the press, on the platform, over the radio, through the movie and other available devices, a vigorous effort is being made to convince the public that only in armaments can security and justice be maintained. In the United States two years' military training is required of all students in some ninety colleges and universities and in some twenty-five high schools. Approximately 145,000 American students are taking courses in military training and are being indoctrinated with the theory of armed preparedness."
Mr. Page urged Christians to take a definite stand against participating in further war of any sort. He stated that The World Tomorrow, of which he is editor, took a poll of clergymen on peace and war, and found that 10,427 ministers took a definite stand against either supporting or participating in any future war. He cited an editorial in the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Journal, which reads:
"It is a matter of great surprise to find so many supposedly intelligent American citizens willing to preach treason against their country by advising against national defense. It is interesting, if not pleasant, to contemplate the number of telegraph poles that would be adorned by white cravats, re-enforced by hempen neckties, should another war be declared—which, may Heaven forfend—to test the 'loyalty' of these antipatriots. . . . The event of a war and the active participation of the clergy against national defense, to which so many have pledged themselves, would give us a brand-new national sport: gunning for clergymen."
Prof. Ralph Harlow, of Smith College, in his talk on disarmament and noncombatancy, aroused the most pronounced enthusiasm among the 2,500 college students present at the convention. He urged all Christians to refuse to take any part in future wars, even if it resulted in their execution. He declared that "governments called for their bodies and took their souls." The idea of standing for noncombatancy swept the convention. Cards were passed out asking for an expression on the subject. The results were 100 to 1 in favor of resisting conscription or engaging in legalized bloodshed.
From other sources it became apparent that while militarism is invading colleges and captivating both men and women for its purposes, a rapidly rising tide of sentiment is developing that opposes taking any part in future armed conflict.
In closing his address, Mr. Page uttered the following solemn words:
"The odds are heavily against us. The visible evidence furnishes numerous reasons for apprehension concerning the future. The prospects for the days just ahead are exceedingly gloomy. Two possible courses of action are open to all of us as we stand confronted with terrifying threats to our civilization. We may yield to despair and decide to eat, drink, and be merry for a few delirious months or years. On the other hand, we may regard the terrible odds against us as a challenge, an opportunity, and a privilege."
The outstanding sections of Mr. Page's address appear in the Review of February 4. Our evangelists will find excellent material in that article to use in their discourses on present-day issues.
Washington, D. C.