THE DIET OF GOLD
March 10, 1917.
very influences that now tend to disrupt this country will later draw it
together. The many will find their meeting-point in the One. That idea of
national unity must be fostered, even to the extent of patient tolerance of
racial temperaments. Those who are in the process of being separated from
their old race and amalgamated with the new race, feel the strain of the
change. It irritates them and their blood protests, even when their wills
bid them forge new bonds for themselves. Few “hyphenated Americans” would be
willing to go bodily back to their old allegiance.
America is the most interesting of all
countries, and we who see it from this side of the airy frontier see it in
historical perspective. The view that is nearest to our point of view is
that of your present Chief Executive. His eyes are far-seeing. He
anticipates the clearer sight that will one day be his, when he has finished
Our country is suffering this moment, in March, of the year of
our Lord nineteen hundred and seventeen, from an indigestion of gold. You
have swallowed more gold than you can assimilate, and your organs are
congested. If to restore the equilibrium, some of this gold should be
regurgitated, by war or by other means, do not in the weariness that follows
fancy that the nation is going to die.
Do not be shocked by my figures of speech.
I want to get into your consciousness an understanding of facts and
conditions as they exist.
You cannot feed on gold. “Gold is a medium of exchange.” When it
is merely hoarded it has lost its relation to life. A miser nation is a
sadder subject for contemplation than a miser man, to secure himself from
the dangers of the future by amassing gold for its own sake. A miser nation
may think that by amassing gold for its own sake it can save itself from the
financial dangers threatening the world after these years of war.
But the miser, known as such, is in danger of being robbed and
murdered. And the miser nation is in danger of being attacked and looted by
You Americans want to be generous to the
homeless and foodless people of Europe; but your generosity has not yet
deprived of one square meal the hundred-million-headed being that is
I do not care so much what you do with your gold. But I care
much what you do with your food. You are not alchemists that you can make
gold potable. You are humans with delicate stomachs. Even a hen will not lay
eggs for you unless she is well fed. If she protests, you can punish her by
eating her; but the luckiest break of her wish-bone will not produce for you
another hen. Better conserve her labor power by gifts of grain, and have
your eggs for breakfast and for hatching. She has periods of laziness when
she wants to set still; but put a few of her own eggs under her, and watch
for results. Later I shall tell you of other but no less practical ways of
ensuring a supply of breakfasts.