Anti-War, but not, therefore, Anti-Military

I HAD, last month, a most interesting conference with a number of members of the Peace Society and of the Society of Friends.

They wanted to understand better the ideals underlying the Boy Scout training, since their attention had been drawn to the Movement by the fact that we had declined help from the Lucas-Tooth Fund.

I gave to the meeting a general outline of our work and aims, and invited questions and suggestions from those present. In reply to some of these, I made it plain that though we were against war, we were not, therefore, against self-defence.

Also, I pointed out that you cannot do away with war by abolishing armies; you might just as well try to do away with crime by abolishing the police. What would be the result in either case?

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As regards war with civilised nations, that is, no doubt, a brutal and out-of-date method of settling differences. But there are still, even in Europe, many nations only partly civilised. It is all a matter of education and character, and mutual knowledge and regard for each other. The only way towards bringing about universal peace in Europe is not by trying to cure the present generation of their prejudices, not even by building palaces for peace conferences, but by educating the next generation to better mutual sympathy and trust and the larger-minded exercise of give-and-take.

The only really practical step so far taken to that end is in the Boy Scout Movement, where, with our brotherhood already established in every country and getting daily into closer touch and fellow-feeling by means of correspondence and interchange of visits, we are helping to build the foundation for the eventual establishment of common interests and friendships which will ultimately and automatically bring about disarmament and a permanent peace.

Lord Baden-Powell, B-P’s Outlook, April 1914

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