International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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3rd International Vegetarian Congress 1893
Chicago, USA

from the Vegetarian Messenger, Manchester, July 1893, pp.260-262:

VEGETARIANISM AND PEACE
By William E. A. Axon.
(An Address delivered at the Temple Church, Philadelphia, May 31, 1893)

It is an appropriate thing that the lovers of peace should seek to interest the mothers of our race in that holy cause. The "Mother's Day for Peace" is an annual occasion established in different parts of the world for some twenty years, through the efforts of Mrs. E. M. Southey, of London, Julia Ward Howe, of Boston, and the Peace Societies, that mothers may appeal for disarmament and arbitration in place of the military system that their sons shall no longer be food for powder; homes desecrated, taxation increased; and the horrors of war repeated. They demand a higher civilisation, and a truer religion of peace and goodwill. I heartily sympathise with this aim. All Europe maintains an armed truce that any day may flame out into open war. England is the only country that maintains a standing army without conscription, a point on which there is much misconception. I have been asked if it is true that in the district schools of my country for every scholar between fifteen and nineteen who enlists in the army the teacher receives a premium of five dollars from the State. My answer is we have no district schools, our compulsory education ends at twelve, and no teacher of any educational institution receives payment for inducing boys to enlist in the army. But the very fact that we can fill the regiments with volunteers shows that peace principles have still much progress to make. On the continent the war spirit exacts from every man three of the most useful years of his life. The theological student, the merchant, the clerk, the artisan, are alike taken from the preparation for the duties of life, and from the exercise of the arts of peace, and trained in the deadly fashions of human slaughter.

All this is sad, but there is a gleam of light and hope in the fact that in recent years some great and grave international questions have been settled by the arbitration of law and reason instead of by the arbitration of the sword. In the dispute now pending between Great Britain and the United States it has been said that whilst the American and the English are represented, one important interest is without representation. The seals have no advocate. This leads me to remind you that Vegetarians are peace people, who do not even restrict their sympathies to the human race. Not only bond and free, Greek and barbarian, Hebrew and Gentile are within the share of their goodwill, but all the bright and beautiful life that exists on the earth. Let us aim at restricting the destruction of life within the narrowest limits. Now there is fully offered a hecatomb of needless and mischievous slaughter. Bright and innocent life is sacrificed, and thousands of creatures perish to gratify the whims of fashion, the vagaries of appetite, and the thoughtlessness of cruelty. Will not mothers, when they teach their children lessons of peace and of kindness to animals remember this also, and give some consideration also to the plea put forward by Vegetarianism for the mothers of the non-human races.

When will the reign of peace come? Not until mothers realise the responsibilities and the possibilities of their influence. The history of the past is a long panorama of bloodshed, nation after nation, race after race, have risen and have perished by the sword. Mothers have seen their sons torn away from the home life and led to a ghastly death on the battle field or in the hospital. Mothers have had to mourn their sons, and sisters have lamented for their brothers. There has been the weeping of the wife and of the orphans for the husband and father lying stark and dead beneath the blue sky on some hard-fought field of slaughter. The ambition of conquerors has lead to the desolation of myriad homes. The mistakes of statesmen and the misunderstandings of politicians have been paid for by the blood and treasure of the people. So it will continue until the influence of woman is cast into the scale of right, until mothers teach their children the glory of peace and horror of war; until sisters and wives bring the influences of kindly pity into the breasts of their brothers and husbands.

Here again we see the connection between Vegetarianism and peace, those who refrain from the slaughter of animals are at least more likely to refrain from the slaughter of man than those to whom the idea of killing is already familiar and not repugnant. The lesser in this case includes the greater.

The world will not go well until woman takes her true position as the teacher of mercy and inspirer of pity. Then we shall we bind in one link of kindly sympathy all the creatures, human and non-human, to whom the gift and the joy of life has been given. May that time come speedily when the reign of peace shall be universal, and the earth shall see the realisation of that vision of Isaiah of the Holy Mountain, wherein they neither hurt nor destroy, but where all innocent life is secure, and where all life is innocent.