But are we making all this effort for no other end that to defeat Fascism? That’s what the men here keep asking. I myself hope it will produce a much fuller victory. Aren’t we struggling for a better way of life? I want to see a better future, and I’m not the only one. If we must get rid of Fascism, then we must clean up a lot of the other old evils too. Unemployment, low living standards and want. You say you’ve heard all that before –you yourself may not have gone through these things and the miseries which follow them, and they maybe don’t mean a lot to you. But even if they don’t, you can’t escape their consequences –no one can. As long as things like that remain, there will be discontent and strife and a breeding ground for war. If we remove them, I’m convinced that we’ll take a long step towards an enduring peace. I don’t mean that we’ll banish the danger of war merely by ensuring a better living standard to everyone –the problem is greater than that. But the wellbeing of every man and woman would be an essential part of the foundations of peace.
In this country the things we need most are good housing, education and the right to work for a decent living-wage. A good home means rooms with enough space to bring up healthy children. At the same time it should mean a system which would help the occupier to become the owner whenever he has paid the house value in rent. Then it might be possible for every man to have a material stake in his own country. Then there’s education –that means a bit to me personally. I just had an elementary education which means I left school with only a stage of my education completed. I was lucky in having my mother to guide me, but wasn’t this leaving my later education too much to chance? Shouldn’t a boy be guided through the most difficult years by carrying on his schooling a bit longer? I’m assuming of course that there would be a better system of security so the extra schooling wouldn’t be a burden on the child’s parents. Then there’s the right to work. I know what it means to be without a job. If you haven’t one, you feel you’re useless –on the dust-heap. I’m certain that every individual has a right to the self-respect and wellbeing that he can only get from steady employment. Health depends on the other things really, the good home, the right to a job. I believe they would do more for people’s health than the most efficient medical services. They are the foundation of your mind’s health as well as your body’s, and they’re the first essentials of social security.
But –as I see it –social security is only likely to last if it’s security on an international scale. We’ve talked about this a bit here in the yard and we realise that there’s a great community of nations outside our own borders, but their troubles are bound to affect us too. Now, if all nations would share the good things the earth produces, and if they’d give their peoples a fair chance to use these things, then we’d lay the foundations of a better life. Nowadays, the world is so small that no nation can live just to itself and escape the consequences of other people’s quarrels, and so I feel we’ve got to have international cooperation. I know this cooperation would mean the sacrifice of old ideas. It would mean the finding of a new standard of truth all over the world –truth which won’t be based on narrow ideas of race or religion or politics, but only on man’s right to live a complete life.
I know, mind you, that this isn’t the whole picture of a better life. I’ve spoken about material needs, but we need a faith too. But if there is a question of what comes first, the material foundation or the faith, I’m bound to say from my personal experience, let us have the material foundation right now –it’s the fertile soil for a living faith to flourish on. I’m certain people can’t feel and think in the right way if they’re living day after day in wrong conditions. Maybe you don’t agree with me –that’s just how I see it.
Isn’t it time to learn from the past, and break with the things of the past which don’t deserve to exist? The good things of the past will survive on their merits alone. For me, or for people like me in the future, there will always be the open country. War can’t stop the trees from budding, or birds from singing, or spoil the beauty of a sunrise over Loch Lomond. But all that beauty will be of no use unless there is peace and confidence in the hearts of those who see it.