Address Delivered by the Secretary of State (Hull) at Washington, May 6, 1934, [Extracts]

There are innumerable demands both new and important which in this crisis rest upon the educational agencies of the Nation. The late war was supposed to have been waged to make the world safe for democracy. It is paradoxical to observe that since the war political systems on which representative or popular government has rested have been toppling over in every part of the world, while dictatorships have sprung up overnight in their stead. Nations everywhere are steadily narrowing their vision, their policies, and their program. Each is undertaking more and more to visualize only itself to live by itself, and to arm conceivably to defend itself against any and all aggressors. Individual cooperation to promote community interests and community welfare is indispensable to human progress. International cooperation to promote understanding, friendship, and vast and varied reciprocal benefits and conditions of peace is equally indispensable to the progress of civilization. These international relationships have been practically abandoned.

Most standards of conduct, both individual and international, have been seriously neglected and impaired. In its chief fundamental respects, civilization since the war has been on the decline. The entire political, economic, social, and moral affairs of most parts of the world are unquestionably in a more or less chaotic condition. They present an unprecedented challenge, especially to the parents, the schools, and the churches.

There are more opportunities for the present young generation than is generally believed. It would be folly, however, for all to fail to recognize that the world is living more in an iron than in the so-called "golden age". The youth may as well realize that they face a world of stress and responsibilities far more difficult and complex than any during recent generations. More of study and of time and of effort will be required of those who lead and plan than is generally imagined. The task must be approached with vision, energy, and resolution, and in many respects with a pioneering and self-sacrificing spirit.
The United States is in a position to render valuable service to the world in the existing exigency. In my judgment, this Nation will continue as in recent months to offer wise, sound, and efficient leadership with suitable programs for political, economic, social, and moral rehabilitation. If in this we should later fail, to whom would our and other countries look to perform this indispensable role? We must revive some of the spirit of hardihood and determination which sustained those who came to this continent, conquered the wilderness, and erected our marvelous free institutions. It becomes all-important to this end that the Nation restore its humanitarian, moral, and spiritual values. I repeat that we are not living amidst conditions where an easy, soft, and flabby existence is possible, as it has seemed at times in the recent past.

Today numerous nations are feverishly arming. They are taxing all of their citizens beyond the limit of ability to pay, and in many ways developing a military spirit which, regardless of present motives of self-defense, may probably lead to war, unless past human experience is to be reversed. Every Christian nation owes it to itself and to humanity to preach and promote understanding, friendship, and peace.

While there are no signs of immediate war anywhere, it is true that seriously volcanic conditions exist in many parts of the world. Peace stabilization is all-important at this stage. It would be both a blunder and a crime for civilized peoples to fail much longer to take notice of present dangerous tendencies which negative every idea of friendliness and of the spirit of the good neighbor.

Economic structures of most countries have been hopelessly undermined and must be restored under sound methods. The American people in this respect must realize that the World War destroyed hundreds of billions of physical wealth; that following the war the people in every country seemingly became obsessed with the one idea of materialism. To get rich or to secure money by the most direct method, regardless of ethics or law or decency, and to spend it for purposes of luxury, amusement, and pastime, became the all-absorbing passion. The result was the wildest runaway experience in the inflation of credit and securities in all human experience. From a combination of policies and methods, either short-sighted or narrow or selfish, the processes of exchange and distribution broke down, and the general world collapse of 1929 resulted. Conditions more or less chaotic have since characterized nearly all phases of affairs of both individuals and nations. Normal thinking and sane practical acting have been almost the exception rather than the rule. There is still a striking lack of enthusiasm for the restoration of those high standards of morals, of good fellowship, and of friendship which normally prevail and should prevail between both individuals and countries.

Let no one, however, become unduly pessimistic. The civilization of the present age, in my judgment, is amply capable of meeting the unprecedented challenge which existing conditions offer, and which must be successfully met unless the world is to be threatened with another period of long night-such as the Dark Ages. My appeal, therefore, is for every individual to awaken and come to a realization of the problems and difficulties facing all alike, and of the necessity for real sacrifices of time and service on the part of the individual in aiding his Government to effect a solution. I know we shall succeed in this epochal task, and that the educational institutions of our country can be relied upon to play their full part.

[20] Message was delivered on April 29, 1934

Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, pp. 216-218.

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