Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Work of Quaker Friends in Reconstruction in France, 1919

From The Guilfordian, published by Guilford College, N.C., Feb. 19, 1919

The Work of Friends at Verdun. . . William Harvey Talks on Reconstruction in France

On the evening of February 14, William B. Harvey briefly stated a phase of Quakerism one application of which leads to the opposition to war. As in the days of George Fox, all the official declarations of Friends now state that all activities of life will be enriched to just that degree in which it is lived in accordance with the spirit of Christ. The one conflict of lasting import is between those whose way of life, depending on materialistic religion, results in an un-Christian civilization, and those whose manner of living ordered by faith in the potential power of Spiritual forces, shapes a Christian social order.

Opposition to war, though one of the minor applications of Quaker belief, has recently attracted much attention. This interest is partly due to the fact that loyalty to Quaker principles at this period has two important results.

In supporting the conscientious objectors, we have established a status for Friends of future generations. Liberty of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom of speech have been obtained. This in itself is a work which has upheld the very essentials of democracy.

Secondly, the Friends have upheld a great ideal. Had Quakers surrendered because of the pressure of public opinion, the outlook would indeed be dark. As the cause of slavery and prohibition would never have triumphed unless an unpopular minority had held to the ideal when the world was not ready for it,” so faith that life will be swayed by love and generosity will never sway the masses, unless the Quaker minority hold fast to their ideals.

Having emphasized the fact that loyalty to our spiritual ideals is the greatest service Friends can render, William Harvey spoke briefly of the new opportunities for work in France.

During their stay in France our Quaker boys have worked with the civilian population. Hundreds of families were assisted during the periods of evacuation. Household furniture, cripples, and babies were saved at such times.

Much has been done in medical work. Maternity hospitals have been maintained; 600 little children are cared for in one place. In one hospital are 500 insane and crippled. Dr. Babbit has performed 1,000 surgical operations.

In building and in agriculture the unit has done much. 200 portable houses have been built. 1,000 tons of grain have been threshed. Machines have been reclaimed from junk heaps, 180 mowing machines, as well as many ploughs, have been used much by our boys.

In the future greater opportunities will be ours. To reclaim the land near Verdun, to rebuild 41 villages, and to care for 2,500 families for whose maintenance $750,000 will be needed—these are some of our opportunities.

For these calls we must dedicate anew our young men and our financial resources. Now when sacrifice is commonplace, we would be failures indeed if our religious principles do not drive us to this material expression of good will.

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