Page:Garden Cities.djvu/30

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
21
GARDEN CITIES

To be from birth deprived of all chance of an adequate existence, to be condemned to go through life stunted and undeveloped, physically, mentally, and morally, is a far worse fate than to suffer wounds and death upon the battlefield. That any of our fellow-countrymen and women should be so condemned is wholly unnecessary. We are apt to throw the responsibility upon Providence but in truth the fault lies with ourselves, the social conditions which lie at the root of the matter are not founded upon natural or divine law, they are not matters of necessity but solely the work of men's hands and brains. God did not make men rich and poor as is so often alleged—He made them unequal in capacity it is true, and in endeavoring to obviate the full effect of that natural inequality man has invented laws and institutions by which he not only evades its consequences but frequently succeeds in putting the last first and the first last. However necessary and right these laws and institutions may be we must watch and control their operation lest they wreck the lives of masses of our fellow-countrymen. It is not equality that we must aim at, equality of opportunity is what is wanted, and we must not rest till every British child is afforded a full opportunity for physical, mental, and, moral development. That our slum children have that opportunity now it would be absurd to contend. We must free our civilisation from this reproach.

Twenty weary years of reaction is surely enough and more than enough for a generation. Whether we are dubbed Liberals or Radicals, Unionists or Tories, we must rouse ourselves to a sense of our social obligations, lest the beginning of the twentieth century leave no better historical record than the closing years of the nineteenth. We can no longer plead ignorance. If we tolerate social iniquity we do so with full knowledge of the extent of its