Wasteful War

War is waste. The history of the ages proves this, but it has always been a favorite maxim of the men who have reached out for world domination that war can be made to pay. The theory has been that war can be managed so as to prove a good business proposition; that it can be entered upon as an investment, presenting some risks, of course, but if artfully begun and artfully stopped, sure to bring substantial returns. If this theory had emerged triumphant from the world war, the lesson that war is waste would not have been learned and a long step toward international moral idiocy would have been taken. It would have seemed proven that one nation can destroy the life of another and thereby gain more life for itself; that one man can destroy his neighbor's house and wife, his manservant and his maidservant, his ox and his ass, and anything that is his neighbor's and thus grow rich. Back of these various projects of world domination lies the secret belief that one nation can kill, disorganize, plunder, deface, and deceive, without suffering from this wholesale animality. Experience invariably disproves this supposition, but mankind seems never to tire of making the experiment. On page 127 of "Miscellaneous Writings" Mrs. Eddy says: "The inevitable condition whereby to become blessed, is to bless others: but here, you must so know yourself, under God's direction, that you will do His will even though your pearls be downtrodden. Ofttimes the rod is His means of grace; then it must be ours,—we cannot avoid wielding it if we reflect Him. Wise sayings and garrulous talk may fall to the ground, rather than on the ear or heart of the hearer; but a tender sentiment felt, or a kind word spoken, at the right moment, is never wasted."

The predatory theory demands the offensive, calls male brutality virility and the defensive nation feminine. It is no compliment to any nation to say that it has reduced war to a science, or that it is always on a war footing; for this implies that the nation in question thinks war and lives war in times of peace. It is characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon nations that they are never ready for war. This is proof that they do not establish their national lives upon a war basis but form their governments upon the ideals of peace.

The fallacy that one nation can live at the expense of another needs to be banished also from commerce. The most elementary considerations prove that the exchange of good things cannot flourish when one party to the exchange is being abused by the other. Every trader knows that he must not destroy the purchasing power of his customer, and that a continuance in taking an unfair advantage of the customer produces this very result. In profitable trade there must be reciprocal advantage; a one-sided commerce soon becomes no commerce at all. The very people who cry loudest for trade restrictions, in the hope of some selfish advantage, are the first to denounce these restrictions when they have produced their inevitable consequence in restricting the productive and exchange ability of their customers.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

"Am I my brother's keeper?"
May 10, 1919

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.