Emma Ray Riggs McKay was in England with her husband, Elder David O. McKay, when an invitation came from the International Council of Women to represent the Relief Society at a joint meeting of the World Alliance for Promoting Friendship through the Churches, The World’s Young Woman’s Christian Association, and the World’s Christian Temperance Union, on the subject of preventing war.
Sister McKay submitted this report of the conference to the Relief Society.
This was intended as a call to women all over the world to realize their power to remove the causes of war and to realize as well their personal responsibility in this matter.
The marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, who presided over this conference and who has attended many women’s conventions, declared that she “knows no convention that has reached the high standard that this convention had reached.”
The list of speakers included forty-eight eminent men and women from foreign lands. Among them were … [list omitted]
The hall was decorated with the flags of all nations, each one attached to a background of blue – the dark blue representing the international idea. Above the flag was the word, “Pax,” and above that was the “Dove of Peace.” These flags stood all around the walls of the room and against the pillars as well. They were very impressive.
Much stress was laid upon the necessity of a better understanding among nations and upon suggestive ways and means whereby this may be accomplished. Some of the most important ways and means are these:
1st. “The interchange of students is one of the greatest means of preventing war,” and in order that there may be interchange of many students, there should be a reduction of railway fare, passports made less expensive, living expenses reduced, and certificates and diplomas standardized.
2nd. There should be an interchange of post-graduates and international club houses where post-graduates may live, as, e.g., the Crosby House in London. The financial question is here again the difficulty.
3rd. There should be interchange of teachers and professors of universities. This requires no money except traveling expenses because the teachers volunteer for one year. There are at present one hundred Canadian teachers in London.
4th. “We must acquire an international mind” that we may understand the language, customs, and religions of other peoples. “Ignorance of others brings arrogance and dislike, and dislike causes war.” We must study individualities for the good of the whole.
5th. “Junior Red Cross with its international correspondence and Junior magazines is one of the greatest assets of peace we have.”
6th. “Peace can be established only on the basis of social justice.”
7th. “The minds of people must be adjusted. There are misunderstandings due to economic causes, attainments of raw materials, investments, etc. Since people live in about the same way everywhere, there should be a standardization of living.”
8th. “Drink is an international danger. Drink does not make for peace. We are going to stop war not by talking peace but by living peace. More money can be made by making grapes into raisins than by turning them into wine. Taverns in Great Britain are frequented by four thousand men a week. In twenty-five years the drink bills of the world would pay all the debts of the world.”
9th. there should be an international plan whereby women might be helped all over the world especially in regard to the problem of their employment during the responsibility of mother hood. “All women want courage, happiness and safety.”
10th. An international public health policy is necessary.
11th. “The failure of any nation to adopt humane conditions of labor is an obstacle in the way of other nations which desire to improve conditions in their own countries.”
12th. “International agreement is needed against opium and drugs. In 1808, India and China decided to stop raising opium. India has kept its word. China did for a while but has now reverted to the raising of opium.” There is need of a higher sense of honor among governments.
13th. “Treaties or agreements or obligations should be made known to the people where they are made and should be revised periodically.”
14th. “The cost of armaments is the direct cause of war. Sixty per cent of our money is paid out for war services. The very existence of armament brings war.” It is said that every war office on the globe is, however reluctantly, preparing for the next world war, and that, while the war regime lasts, any international complication may precipitate it. It was further stated that the next world war will be appalling, immeasurably more destructive and more horrible than the last, paralyzing our civilization for perhaps centuries to come.
15th. “Prevention must be based on spiritual conception. Christianity is not a failure. Christianity has never been tried. Christianity as it has been used is like a man fighting in battle with one hand behind his back.” We must walk in the light of the Lord, live up to the standards of the Christian church and be a community actuated by the idea of mutual service.”
“Women may prevent war if they look into the causes of it, and in decency, kindness and honor put forth an effort to remove them. To know these causes, more light must be thrown upon legislation. Governments are inhuman and do many iniquities in the dark. Light should penetrate the dark places. If women were told more, they would understand more and accomplish more.”
“Women must travel to get an intimate knowledge of the rivalries and jealousies of people. Young women should use their university training for commerce, trade and finance to help settle economic disputes.”
“Mothers must think peace, talk peace, and teach peace to their children by not buying guns, cannons, soldiers and other war playthings, but playthings that will encourage thoughts of peace. There is virtue in thinking good things, there is degradation in thinking evil things.”
“Women must stand up for an international court of justice and join hands to erect the stronghold of peace.”
I have given this brief summary merely to give an idea of the trend of the subjects treated at the thirteen sessions of the convention. Later, I hope to send you a verbatim copy of the addresses given. I attended every session but one, conference at Birmingham preventing me from being present at the public meeting. I enjoyed every meeting. The addresses were excellent, uplifting and highly instructive.
With one thing I am more deeply impressed than ever; and that is the potency and power of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to deal successfully with the great problems presented for solution by these leaders of world organizations. A number of them we have already solved or are solving them. Take for example the interchange of study and interchange of peoples. What better opportunity for studying languages, customs and ideas of peoples can be found than that afforded by our missionary system! Our young men go to all parts of the world. They harbor no prejudices, they hate no people, they have no selfish ends to serve. They go in love and thereby engender love.
So we might apply our social system free from class distinction; and our economic system, so full of opportunities and avenues for mutual service. Really, the only real solution of the problems in the minds of many of the speakers lies in the acceptance of nations and individuals of the Christ principles.
As one of the speakers said, “We must think peace, speak peace, and teach peace, to our children. We must fire the children with the belief in the greatness of their destiny, in being the generation that will cause wars to cease, by making effective the principles of the Sermon on the Mount, between nations as between individuals.”
[Emma Ray [Riggs] McKay, “Conference on Prevention of Causes of War,” The Relief Society Magazine, April 1924, 409-413]