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Patriotism of Peace is Greater than That of War. (Address. 1915.)

A considerable number of wars are made possible because the majority of mankind are still living on the plane of their belligerent instincts. We often imperil the welfare of our families; we often imperil the welfare of the cities and villages in which we live, and we often imperil our own happiness, because we seem to have been endowed with a disposition to fight. The members of this committee, consequently, must have an exhaustive patience in attempting to bring man and women into that attitude whereby they are willing and recognize those finder and more beautiful emotions and sentiments that make for peace and righteousness.

I would not emphasize this matter of the belligerent instincts in man were it not for the fact that in almost every state of the union, there has grown up the feeling that the white race has the divine right to the earth. Thank God, I haven't that feeling; and so far as I have any influence or power, I hope to teach man that God Almighty must have had some wise object in creating different races, with innate differences and yet intending us all to partake of the richest bounties of the earth and live together in peace and joy for the righteous ends of life.

On Decoration Day in my home city I spoke to the Grand Army of the Republic and their friends. While reading the enlistments in preparing this address, I was astonished to find that in the great civil war the vast majority of most armies, especially of the North were made of men twenty-one years of age or under twenty-one. What does this mean? It means that war is a sacrifice of youth. And today I need not tell an intelligent audience that the riches of all of the nations of the earth consist in youth, consist in their preservation, development and training in the arts of peace.

We are not in politics (using the term in its popular sense) today, we are beyond that, I trust. I feel it is the duty of every man regardless of his politics, if he believes in the philosophy that is expounded by this committee, to command men, who, in spite of public clamor, still are able to remain steadfast in their convictions. Our efforts in Mexico have attracted not only the attention of this country, but the attention of other countries; and I want to stand here (and I would stand here just the same if I were a Progressive, a Republican, a Socialist, or a Prohibitionist, as I do being a Democrat) and say that in my judgment and in my hope, the cold, calm, thoughtful, righteous methods that have been adopted by the president of the United States in order to work out peace in Mexico are commended by the world.

I firmly believe, and am happy in the belief, that in the days to come, one of the garlands beautiful that will grace the memory of Woodrow Wilson, is the policy he is carrying out to bring about to establish with all nations the kind of peace that has been advocated here this afternoon. I would say the same thing of any other ruler. God help any president, whatever his politics, and whatever nation he represents, who believes that one of his highest duties is to conserve and preserve the youth of his land through the agencies of love.

It is exceedingly difficult to be patriotic in times of peace. That is when men are really tried, when the test of conscience comes. When arms clash and cannons roar, our impulses and instincts guide us; but when we are at peace, when we are able to look with clear vision, it requires a high degree of heroism to be patriotic. I therefore feel the importance of emphasizing what may be called the patriotism of peace. For thousands of years men have heard about the patriotism of war. Now is the time to consider the patriotism of pace.

We have not seen the end of war. I am not a pessimist; nor am I an optimist. I do the best I can to see things as they are. I realize that the last controversy over dollars and cents, over trade, over international relations, has not yet come; but by and by, I am hoping and praying we shall solve these problems without the shedding of human blood. That, I trust, is a part of the mission of this conference. We cannot get men and women to join us, to work with us, by simply appealing to reason. You must touch the human heart, you must appeal to the higher emotions and the higher aspirations of men and move them as with a song. An immense amount of ammunition has been wasted in our attempt to move men through the use of cold logic. I may attempt, in a controversy with a man to use logic to the best of my ability, but he may thoughtlessly or intentionally utter one expression which brings from me a brutal blow. I do not know whether I make my meaning clear or not, but I beg of all peace conferences to make appeals to the emotions, the hearts and sentiments of men. I do not like to hear critics say this is mere sentiment.

I am glad that the Almighty God has so organized the world that all men can understand "thank you;" that all men can understand "good morning;" that all men can understand courtesy; that all men can understand the blush of a flower; in a word that all men and women can understand kindness and love.

In 1915 we are to celebrate one hundred years of peace. We should so celebrate that we shall arouse in youth across the water and in our own country, the patriotism of peace.

Source: Newton, Roy, editor. Life and Works of Woodbridge N. Ferris. (Big Rapids, Michigan: n.p., 1960), 243-247.