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Peace Testimony

Dick Shepherd 1935
Who Stands For Peace?

It is the habit of statesmen today to lead their peoples as generals lead their armies - from behind. They no longer enunciate principles, or outline policies, which they invite men and women of like mind to support; their skill lies in ascertaining the greatest wish, the greatest fear, or the greatest prejudice of the greatest number, and building a "platform" round it.

One consequence of this is that Governments are usually less intelligent than the more intelligent sections of the electorate. Another is that, as a general rule, elections are not fought upon any issue of real importance, but upon vague and windy generalizations or picturesque catchphrases.

It is thus possible for profound changes in thought and feeling to occur within a nation, and yet find no expression in the policy of its rulers.

I believe that this is true of the attitude of the people of this country to war and war preparations and the diplomacy which is based on the threat of force. Politicians either knew nothing of foreign affairs themselves, or are convinced that the electors aren't interested in them, and they must give the public what it wants, so they content themselves with paying lip-service to peace in an occasional peroration, while they leave the experts to their job of getting ready for the next war.

There is no way of altering that, of achieving a real peace policy, unless those who are opposed to war become vocal and declare the faith that is in them. In other words, we must make a nuisance of ourselves.

It was for this reason that, in October 1934, I addressed a letter to the Press of this country in which men who shared my views on the subject of peace and war were invited to communicate with me.

"Up to now," I wrote, "the peace movement has received its main support from women, but it seems high time that men should throw their weight into the scales against war."

I expressly disclaimed any intention of forming a new organization, and I made it clear that I was acting as an individual, and not on behalf of any Pacifist body or of the Church. But, I said, "It seems essential to discover whether or not it be true, as we are told, that the majority of thoughtful men in this country are now convinced that war of every kind, or for any cause, is not only a denial of Christianity, but a crime against humanity, which is no longer to be permitted by civilised people."

The response to that letter was overwhelming, and very many of thousands of men signed the following pledge:

"I renounce War and never again, directly or indirectly, will I support or sanction another."

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