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Exhaustion Mistaken for Peace

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation

Nellie McClung, In Times Like These (U of Toronto Press, 1972) 18-19.

"In the first days of panic, pessimism broke out among us, and we cried in our despair that our civilization had failed, that Christianity had broken down, and that God had forgotten the world. It seemed like it at first. But now a wiser and better vision has come to us, and we know that Christianity has not failed, for it is not fair to impute failure to something which has never been tried. Civilization has failed. Art, music, and culture have failed, and we know now that underneath the thin veneer of civilization, unregenerate man is still a savage; and we see now, what some have never seen before, that unless a civilization is built upon love, and mutual trust, it must always end in disaster, such as this. Up to August fourth, we often said that war was impossible between Christian nations. We still say so, but we know more now than we did then. We know now that there are no Christian nations.

Oh, yes. I know the story. It was a beautiful story and a beautiful picture. The black prince of Abyssinia asked the young Queen of England what was the secret of England's glory and she pointed to the 'open Bible.'

The dear Queen of sainted memory was wrong. She judged her nation by the standard of her own pure heart. England did not draw her policy from the open Bible when in 1840 she forced the opium traffic on the Chinese. England does not draw her policy from the open Bible when she takes revenues from the liquor traffic, which works such irreparable ruin to countless thousands of her people. England does not draw her policy from the open Bible when she denies her women the rights of citizens, when women are refused degrees after passing examinations, when lower pay is given women for the same work than if it were done by men. Would this be tolerated if it were really so that we were a Christian nation? God abominates a false balance, and delights in a just weight.

No, the principles of Christ have not yet been applied to nations. We have only Christian people. You will see that in a second, if you look at the disparity that there is between our conceptions of individual duty and national duty. Take the case of the heathen—the people whom we in our large-handed, superior way call the heathen. Individually we believe it is our duty to send missionaries to them to convert them into Christians. Nationally we send armies upon them (if necessary) and convert them into customers! Individually we say: 'We will send you our religion.' Nationally: 'We will send you goods, and we'll make you take them—we need the money!' Think of the bitter irony of a boat leaving a Christian port loaded with missionaries upstairs and rum below, both bound for the same place and for the same people—both for the heathen 'with our comp'ts.'

Individually we know it is wrong to rob anyone. Yet the state robs freely, openly, and unashamed, by unjust taxation, by the legalized liquor traffic, by imposing unjust laws upon at least one half of the people. We wonder at the disparity between our individual ideals and the national ideal, but when you remember that the national ideals have been formed by one half of the world—and not the more spiritual half—it is not so surprising. Our national policy is the result of male statecraft".

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