Editorial: War and business (4-19-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 19, 1941)


By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Women’s lives have already been changed by national military activity. Mothers have said farewell to sons, girls have kissed sweethearts goodbye, and many wives are left to tend the home fires alone.

But other women who have no husbands, sons or sweethearts also find existence altered. Suddenly, a fresh energy spurs them on. They sew, knit, nurse the sick, toil for good causes, and are aware of a new happiness within them. It is the sort of happiness that can come to the individual even in times of deepest bewilderment and misery – the happiness of serving others.

Many lonely, bored, neurotic women have found a new anodyne for their aches, both physical and mental. It is interesting to see them plunge into tasks, patriotic or charitable, which yesterday would have left them unmoved and idle.

War always does this to people. It gives us the feeling of usefulness, of importance, helping us to forget our own minor woes in the universal misery.

Does it not seem strange that, after the emergencies pass, we so often fail to remember this truth? For we quickly lose both the desire to serve and the happiness it brings us. And how sad this is for us and for the world!

Because a nation at peace needs exactly the same measure of self-sacrifice from its citizens, and sometimes wars are the result of a slump in our energies. After the excitement is over, a good many men and women cease to be concerned in humanitarian causes. We forget the poor and unfortunate in our neighborhood and our land. Back we go to our airless putterings, our chase after amusement, our picayunish ambitions and petty bickerings.

It has been proved endlessly that life takes on a new meaning when we use part of it in the service of others – and we hope American women, many of whom have unlimited leisure, will remember the fact when this war is over.

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