First World War: March 1915 magazine editorial

“In case anyone should suppose from this that we, from the editorial chair, regard the effects of the war on others, as well as ourselves, with something akin to tolerant cynicism, we would draw attention to the amount of really excellent work that is being done. Halfpenny newspapers may talk about shirkers, and misguided women may distribute white feathers, but for our own part we are genuinely amazed at the way in which everyone, from the greatest to the least, has shouldered the burden, each one taking upon himself that which appeared to him most necessary to be borne. At the moment we would like to draw special attention to the work of the Emergency Committee for the Assistance of Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians in Distress (convened by the Religious Society of Friends to aid innocent “Alien Enemies” in Great Britain rendered destitute by the war). It is not easy to find ways for reconstructing human society whilst war is still waging, but there can be no doubt at all that this Committee, which is assisted by several Old Scholars, is counteracting, as far as its scope and its means permit, the spirit of race hatred which has grown so terribly in the last six months. Even those who believe that every member of the German and Austrian Empires comes into the world with a double dose of original sin, if there really are such, must perceive the necessity of showing such benighted people that there is a sense of pity even in Englishmen; moreover, one direct result of the work of this committee has been the starting of a reciprocal committee to guard the distressed men and women of our own country in Germany and Austria-Hungary. But it is not for these reasons alone that we would commend the work; if it did not benefit any Englishman in the eyes of any German it would still be a work of purest Christ-like pity. The vast majority of those whose claims are considered are far less responsible for the present condition than you, O reader ! and than ourselves. Are they all to suffer, the guiltless with the guilty? And are we, then, so guiltless that we are their lawful judges? This, no less than many other things that our fellow Old Scholars are doing in these days, some of them working in secret, so that none of us know it, is a true work of love and of reconciliation. This is the way of hope.”

From ‘Bootham’ magazine, March 1915

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