The following pages are the outgrowth of an attempt to write a brief history of the efforts for peace made by a small group of women in the United States during the European War, and of their connection with the women of other countries, as together they became organized into the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Such a history would of course be meaningless, unless it portrayed the scruples and convictions upon which these efforts were based.
During the writing of it, however, I found myself so increasingly reluctant to interpret the motives of other people that at length I confined all analysis of motives to my own. As my reactions were in no wise unusual, I can only hope that the autobiographical portrayal of them may prove to be fairly typical and interpretative of many like-minded people who, as the great war progressed, gradually found themselves the protagonists of that most unpopular of all causes — peace in time of war.
I was occasionally reminded of a dictum found on the cover of a long since extinct magazine entitled “The Arena,” which read somewhat in this wise: “We do not possess our ideas, they possess us, and force us into the arena to fight for them.” It would be more fitting for our group to say “to be martyred for them,” but candor compels the confession that no such dignified fate was permitted us. Our portion was the odium accorded those who, because they are not allowed to state their own cause, suffer constantly from inimical misrepresentation and are often placed in the position of seeming to defend what is a mere travesty of their convictions.
We realize, therefore, that even the kindest of readers must perforce still look at our group through the distorting spectacles he was made to wear during the long period of war propaganda.
As the writing progressed I entitled the book “Peace and Bread in Time of War.” Not because the first two words were the touching slogan of war-weary Russian peasants, but because peace and bread had become inseparably connected in my mind.
I shall consider myself fortunate if I am able to convey to the reader the inevitability of the relationship.