« AnteriorContinuar »
thus far by preserving the integrity of the states, leaving each to the government and regulation of its own affairs in its own way.
Uniformity! Beware of it. Uniformity is stagnation, whether in man or nature, in philosophy or in religion. Life is variety. Death is uniform, because uniformity is death. There is no uniformity in the politics of the same organization. Just now there are more sorts of democracy than there are democrats; and yet, with diversity staring them in the face, numbers of good men and women come before you with quivering voice and tearful eyes, reciting nameless horrors which a distorted imagination convinces them are menacing their children and yours. They clamor for federal authority to enact uniform legislation to be rigidly applied to thirty-five millions of people distributed over a continent of infinitely varied resources, varied climate, and varied population. I fear they will never perceive that the remedy is worse than the disease, were the latter many times worse than they believe it to be.
If we credit a small percentage of rumor and assertion, men and women are also being exploited by hard-boiled employers. Why not bureaus for them as well, and others to care for the ills and to soothe the woes of the Jews, the gentiles, the Catholics, and the unbelievers? Why not? Our sovereign government, as Mr. Lovejoy describes it, should play no favorites in this policy of universal regulation. Are not our women as precious as our children? The Negro justly complains that the constitutional amendments designed for his social and political equality are flouted and ignored. Let us create a bureau and give it jurisdiction, under the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments, over the person and politics of the Negro. Are we not theoretically free and equal? And if a bureau will convert theory into fact for white children, surely it can do as much for the black men.
In all seriousness, let me ask, When will the tides of legislative invasion and control of individual conduct cease? Not, I fear, until people, goaded beyond endurance, turn upon their reforming tormentors, demand a halt, and then enforce it. We are gorged with nostrums, experimental legislation, welfare legislation, mandatory legislation, prohibitory legislation, regulatory legislation, bureaus, commissions, and boards; invasions here, and invasions there, until law has become synonymous with tyranny in its most searching and sinister forms.
Voltaire said that every lover of liberty seems determined to destroy her. It is as true now as ever. If we would preserve its remaining fragments, we would do well to recall and observe the precept of the Hebrew prophet: "Stand upon the old paths, walk in the ancient ways, observe them well, and be not driven unto change."
RESOLVED THAT THE PROPOSED TWENTIETH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES SHOULD BE RATIFIED
Owen R. Lovejoy
There are just a few points to touch upon. I had hoped Senator Thomas, somewhere in his address, would tell us what kind of protection he thought the working child should have. I was disappointed that he seemed to avoid doing so. But at least he has favored us with his position on this whole question. If I understand him, he does not believe in any kind of child labor legislation whatever. He does not believe in compulsory school attendance laws. He deplores the efforts that have been made to protect children against exploitation. I can hardly believe that Senator Thomas is so ignorant of the efforts made in recent years in this and other countries as not to know that the condition of working children is far superior today to what it was in the old days in England, or in that stronghold of labor legislation today, Massachusetts. I think that what he said was for oratorical effect.
Those of you who are familiar with efforts to improve conditions of working children know that anyone who has any interest in the matter distinguishes between child labor and children's work. If the Senator knows anything about the activities of the National Child Labor Committee, he knows that its membership is made up of Americans of average common sense, many of them prominent business men, many prominent business women, and that they have always made it clear that what we seek to do is so to safeguard the surroundings of children during their early, helpless years that when they get to the point where they may reasonably bear their share of the burden of life, they may go into life's work with their eyes open instead of being blindly chucked into the first job that offers. I must flatly contradict the Senator's statement that children do not want to work. But there is a real difference between working and being worked. I have yet to find my first adult who did not want to work when he was a boy, provided the work was interesting. And if children are ignorant enough, the worse the conditions the more tenaciously they cling to their jobs. It is a matter of information, that is all. We have constantly to distinguish between children's work and child labor.
If I interpret the Senator correctly, he believes that the old days were better, when children were allowed to work all night at the ages of ten and twelve years, when little boys worked nine hours at a stretch cleaning coal, when in the textile industry in the New England states as well as in southern states, they worked at practically any age from eight years up for as many hours a day as the factory ran. I do not believe the Senator believes those industrial conditions were better than the present, nor that he believes there is such a difference in the make-up of human beings in the various sections of the country that it
can be right that while in one state a child has a chance to go through the elementary grades before he goes to work, another child in another state is allowed to go to work at eight years old without being able to read. That is the condition which exists. I cannot think the Senator stands for it.
Those who are for this amendment are charged with attempting to nationalize the children of this country. That was good! I thoroughly enjoyed the picture the Senator painted of what is going to happen-that bureau in Washington which will require at least three millions of dollars and four hundred thousand agents to carry on. But he has understated it, according to some of the associations opposing the amendment. They have said it would require a federal agent for every home and every farm in America. What are these agents going to do? They are going to take every child as soon as it is born, snatch it from its mother's breast, take it to Washington, put it in the national kindergarten, and keep it from doing any kind of work till it has passed its eighteenth birthday not allowing it to do any kind of work, even work with its brains!
In Massachusetts we found that a great many people had gone to the dictionary and discovered that labor means any kind of exertion, physical or mental, and they told the people that if this amendment was ratified no persons in the United States would be permitted even to think until they had passed their eighteenth birthday. And their reasoning indicated that many above eighteen thought the law had already passed and were setting a good example before the children.
He told us every government uses all the power it possesses; that we are in a bad way, with all our bureaus. It is a curious fact that the people responsible for the establishment of bureaus in the federal government never complained until we tried to get a little bit of a bureau to look after children who could not look after themselves. Now the promoters of the adult bureaus have become alarmed because some people want a bureau for children. The Senator said we ought to have a bureau for Jews, and a bureau for women! Today the women are citizens of the United States, participating citizens, and so are the Jews, and, in some parts of the country, Negroes. Theoretically, they have the right to participate in our citizenship, in the making of our laws, in the establishing of our institutions. Does not the child exist in an entirely different category? I agree with the Senator that all our responsibilities as citizens should be considered locally first, that we ought to get all reforms first through our cities, and only go to the state house when it is impossible to make improvement in the city, and only to Washington when it is impossible in the state. The child does not exist politically, but is the ward of the state, and when the Senator objects to the cost of its protection we call his attention to the fact that the government gives its citizens a rebate of $400 on their income tax for every child under eighteen years of age. Has he, or any of his constituents of the National Manufacturers Association, protested against that?
It has probably not escaped any of our listeners that through the splendid
spirit and eloquence of my distinguished opponent two or three facts have been brought out. One is that the child labor problem in this country is belittled by him-there isn't any-and if there is, it's a good thing. Second, that the government is bad and getting worse all the time; third, that our citizens are becoming ignorant and lawbreaking and vicious, and we are on the way to the demnition bow-wows. I do not see how he can be cheerful about it all. He must be an incorrigible optimist! When he tells you that every state has a good child labor law, he simply states what is not so-unless you are prepared to agree with him that the best child labor law is no law.
I read that speech of President Coolidge with interest, and I read some things in it which the Senator did not have time to read tonight, but which have been called to the attention of the American people by the New York World. For instance, President Coolidge says that if questions which the states will not fairly settle on their own account shall have to be settled for them by the federal government, it will be only because some states will have refused to discharge their obvious duties. I prefer to stand in this respect with President Coolidge. In the application of this particular problem I do not believe that any state line is any more sacred than a county line. Because a child happens to live in Colorado, or Nebraska, or New York, or Georgia, it does not follow that the United States and its citizens have no interest, or right to an interest, in him. I believe in this indestructible Union, made so because of common purposes, common ideals, and a common destiny, and I am convinced that if any section of the country, whether state, county, city, ward, or home, becomes lawless and unwilling to give proper protection to those who live within its bounds, the necessity rests upon the American commonwealth to see that that sore spot is healed, not for itself alone, but for the health of the whole body.
THE RELIGION OF HUMAN HELPFULNESS
Rev. John Howard Melish, Trinity Episcopal Church, Brooklyn
Come ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.-Matt. 25:34.
The mineral kingdom has existed from the foundation of the world. The vegetable kingdom, drawing its life from the rocks and the sun, the air and the water, has existed from the foundation of the world. The animal kingdom, depending in the last analysis upon the vegetable kingdom, goes back to the beginning of life upon this planet. Vitally related to all these kingdoms, his bones of the very substance of the rocks, his bodily organs similar to those of the animals, even his brain not unlike the brain of humbler creatures, there came in the course of evolution the kingdom of man. The human kingdom, like the
mineral, the vegetable, and the animal kingdoms, has been prepared from the foundation of the world.
Man is the inheritor of all three kingdoms. He is born to the scepter; but, like a royal heir apparent, he must grow up to it. And how slowly man has entered into his kingdoms! Throughout all the years that he has fought cold and hunger there was an unlimited wealth of coal beneath his feet, but he never discovered it until yesterday; the fertile ground was able to grow fifty bushels of wheat where it has grown one, but man did not know how to cooperate with it until today; water in vast quantities falls upon the earth and runs down to the sea, giving super-power of inestimable strength-its full use is the task of tomorrow; electricity was all-persuasive, ready to turn night into day, flash messages around the world, and perform every task; but man went on in darkness and put the heavy burdens upon the beasts or his fellows whom he enslaved. Man is just beginning to enter into his kingdom. We moderns talk about progress and pride ourselves on our achievements in the conquest of nature. And well we may, for in the past century we have made more advance than in all the preceding centuries. But from the viewpoint of the race, the progress has been humiliatingly late and painfully slow; and in the higher realms of our kingly inheritance we have only begun to wield the scepter and wear the
The kingdom into which man is still to come, and which now is eagerly awaiting its heir and master, is the kingdom of man himself. This kingdom is like a great modern factory which is owned and run by large-minded men. Their first task, of course, is to finance the enterprise, build the works, and assemble the machinery; their next task is to organize their producing and selling force. Only when these tasks are completed can they undertake the supreme adventure of industrial life. This is to create the spirit of good will which, entering all, from president to scrub woman, makes of a factory a home of liberty and democracy. So our task as men and women, inheritors of the kingdom of man, now that we have in a measure entered into those other kingdoms of coal and electricity and mechanical inventions, is to come into the human kingdom. We are to humanize society. We are to socialize the world. We are to bring humanity under the scepter of the intellect and the heart. We are to have our nobler selves control our lower selves, even as we are to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
In the fulfilment of this great adventure religion has a part to play. What is its contribution to the humanizing of the world? Does it help man in the conquest of the earth? Does it inspire or strengthen him to gain the mastery over the brute in humanity and in nature? Does it furnish any truth, any knowledge, any power, any consolation, any inspiring vision which man needs and without which his task may end in failure? Let us bring the mind of Christ to bear upon this venture of humanizing the world.