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David Graham Phillips: Hate war and fightin’ and money grabbin’

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

David Graham Phillips: Captains of industry, industrial warfare, marauders and renegade generals

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David Graham Phillips
From Susan Lenox

“…Listen to me. There was a man named Jesus once”- gasp – gasp – “You’ve heard about him, but you don’t know about him” – gasp – gasp – “I’ll tell you – listen. He was a low fellow – a workin’ man – same trade as mine – born without a father – born in a horse trough – in a stable” – gasp – gasp-

Susan leaned forward. “Born without a father,” she murmured, her eyes suddenly bright.

“That’s him. Listen” – gasp – gasp – gasp – “He was a big feller – big brain – big heart – the biggest man that ever lived”- gasp – gasp – gasp – gasp -“And he looked at this here hell of a world from the outside, he being an outcast and a low-down common workingman. And he saw – he did –

“Yes, he saw!” – gasp – gasp – gasp – “And he said all men were brothers – and that they’d find it out some day. He saw that this world was put together for the strong and the cruel – that they could win out – and make the rest of us work for ’em for what they chose to give – like they work a poor ignorant horse for his feed and stall in a dirty stable – “gasp – gasp – gasp –

“For the strong and the cruel,” said Susan.

“And this feller Jesus–he set round the saloons and such places – publicans, they called ’em” – gasp – gasp – gasp – “And he says to all the poor ignorant slaves and such cattle, he says, ‘You’re all brothers. Love one another'” – gasp – gasp – gasp – “‘Love one another,’ he says, ‘and learn to help each other and stand up for each other,’ he says, ‘and hate war and fightin’ and money grabbin’ – ‘”gasp – gasp – gasp -“‘Peace on earth,’ he says, ‘Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ – and he saw there’d be a time” – the old man raised himself on one elbow – “Yes, by God – there will be! – a time when men’ll learn not to be beasts and’ll be men – men, little gal!”

“Men,” echoed Susan, her eyes shining, her bosom heaving.

“It ain’t sense and it ain’t right that everything should be for the few – for them with brains – and that the rest – the millions – should be tramped down just because they ain’t so cruel or so ‘cute’ – they and their children tramped down in the dirt. And that feller Jesus saw it.”

“Yes – yes,” cried Susan. “He saw it.”

“I’ll tell you what he was,” said old Tom in a hoarse whisper. “He wasn’t no god. He was bigger’n that – bigger’n that, little gal! He was the first man that ever lived. He said, ‘Give the weak a chance so as they kin git strong.’ He says – ”

The dying man fell back exhausted. His eyes rolled wildly, closed; his mouth twitched, fell wide open; there came from his throat a sound Susan had never heard before, but she knew what it was, what it meant.

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What do they come here for! To do good! Yes – to themselves. To make themselves feel how generous and sweet they was. Well, they’d better go home and read their Russia-leather covered Bibles. They’d find out that when God wanted to really do something for man, he didn’t have himself created a king, or a plutocrat, or a fat, slimy church deacon in a fashionable church. No, he had himself born a bastard in a manger.”

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“Yes,” said the girl, “you are right. I see it now. But, Mr. Brashear, they meant well.”

“The hell they did,” retorted the old man. “If they’d, a’ had love in their hearts, they’d have seen the truth. Love’s one of the greatest teachers in the world. If they’d, a’ meant well, they’d, a’ been goin’ round teachin’ and preachin’ and prayin’ at their friends and fathers and brothers, the plutocrats. They’d never ‘a’ come down here, pretendin’ they was doin’ good, killin’ one bedbug out of ten million and offerin’ one pair of good pants where a hundred thousand pairs is needed. They’d better go read about themselves in their Bible – what Jesus says. He knew ’em. He belonged to us – and they crucified him.”

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