Saturday athletic teams representing two of the greatest American and English universities enjoyed an afternoon of friendly rivalry in track and field events at the Stadium. There are pacificists in this country who make great rejoicing every time there is such a contest, an international debate, an exchange professorship, or a worldwide congress of scientists, as if every group that contained citizens from two different nations was a link in the chain to hold back the dogs of war. The newspapers know this and pepper their columns with items about good-will flights and good-will conventions.
Before the ghastly mistake of 1914-1918 men knew their brothers in other countries almost as well as they do today. There were exchange professors, grants for study abroad, Olympic games since 1896, and gatherings of savants, clerymen, laity, and diplomats to discuss concerns ranging from postal rates to tuberculosis. Men in the trenches had even grimmer human contacts. Yet if the bureaucracies were to decide for war, the nations would respond, and it would be the students who would occupy the trenches hacking at each other. An Oxford Union man would command a bombing squadron, American students who signed the Brown Daily Herald pledge to renounce war would man the machine guns, and athletes who shook hands over the net would be hurling grenades at each other over barbed wire. The roll of Harvard dead as it stands in the Memorial Chapel will testify to this.
Because bitter experience of a generation is not inherited, patriotism will live on. Individuals cannot resist the call of martial trumpets. Patriotism cannot be outlawed, but war can through the patient efforts of skillful unselfish diplomats using the facts of economic interdependance for their operations.