Editorial: 'Beyond Our Power' (10-7-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 7, 1940)

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

If women could only act upon all their splendid instincts! If, by some miracle, we might force our will through the barriers of hatred which now hold so many people in an iron grip! Daily I wish it were possible. And especially when letters come from those who ardently desire to see some great work pushed. Today such a letter arrived from Columbus, Ohio. Let me quote a passage:

A movement is underway to get the women of America so aroused that they will break through any barriers in order to send food to the starving children of Europe. We have the food. It is going to waste in government storehouses. No woman wants any child to starve, whether it is French, Belgian, English, or German. Will you do all you can to arouse sympathy for this movement?

What can be said to such an appeal? For it is a sincere and noble plea, and one to which every mother’s heart subscribes. But barring the sentimental way stands common sense. The truth must be spoken, though it is often unpleasant.

Fine as the plan is, it does not seem feasible. How will it be possible to accomplish the gigantic task of feeding Europe? Aroused American sentiment will release the food held by our government, it is suggested. But that food belongs to someone. It must be bought by the European nations or given to them outright.

Next arises an obvious question. If the government can give food to foreign children, why can’t our hungry ones at home be fed by the same method? And what is to be done about the millions starving in China, Japan and Russia? Can our generosity cover all the territory?

A beautiful character, the great Englishwoman Muriel Lester, is sponsor for this plan. She assumes that if boats carrying food were bombed, because part of it is meant for their own children, the German people would rebel against Hitler. But would the German people know anything about it? Do we have any assurance whatsoever that the supplies would get to those for whom they are intended?

Ah, friends, these problems are so immense we falter before them. We must do what we can, but some things are beyond our power. If women could act upon their splendid instincts, this ghastly horrible war would never have begun. We are like Mary before the Cross. We can only weep and suffer; we cannot stop the Crucifixion.