FOR two years or more the Cuban “reconcentrados” have been dying of starvation in the cities whither they were sent by the decree of the Spanish general Weyler. They are still dying from the same cause, and we are told that the American people have a Christian duty to perform in the matter.
Now is it s Christian duty to relieve distress, certainly. It is a Christian’s duty to deal his bread to the hungry; there can be no doubt about that. And it is his duty to do this under all circumstances. If he has bread to give, he is to give it to those who are perishing for the lack of it, knowing that such is the will of God, and trusting in God to enable him to perform that will, and to take care of the results.
But what did the people of this country do in performance of this plain Christian duty toward their fellow-beings in Cuba during the two years following General Weyler’s decree? That a little was done, we do not doubt; but it was only a little It was not enough to prevent the death of hundreds of thousands of the women and children who were the victims of Weyler’s cruelty. Plainly, they left their Christian duty in this matter unperformed.
It may be said that they could not do this; the Spanish forces would not permit it. But who knows that they would not? Perhaps they wouldn’t, when supplies of food were to be sent in ships of war. Spain did object to that, and quite naturally. But would Spain do not have permitted the Christian people of this country to feed the starving Cubans in a peaceable manner? There is no proof that she would not. Miss Clara Barton, we are told, testifies that the work of the Red Cross Society in Cuba was not hindered by the Spanish forces, and that the food brought and stored by the society for the Cubans was not disturbed by the Spanish troops.
The Christian people of this country might have fed the suffering people of Cuba in a Christian way, and thus have discharged a plain Christian duty and have received a blessing from the God of mercy. Of this we do not believe there can be a particle of doubt.
But is it not a marvelous thing that these Christian people, having failed for two years to discern this Christian duty, now discover that it is their Christian duty to relieve the suffering in Cuba by fighting the Spanish! And what seems chiefly to have impressed this duty upon them was the blowing up of the battleship “Maine.”
The carnal mind can quite readily discover “Christian duty,” when it is something to be performed in a carnal way.