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Stories : “Someone for Peace (a story about Emily Greene Balch)

"You want to do what?" her friend said. "But you can’t, you can’t, what difference could you make. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard!"

"But if someone doesn’t do something, how many more people will be killed, maimed or starve to death because of the war?" Emily answered.

"But two women traveling to Europe to stop the World War, ha! That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!"

"But someone must do something, and if we always think that the someone is somebody else—then no one will do a thing! This time the someone is me!"

Emily Greene Balch, professor at Wellesley College, and her friend, settlement house founder Jane Addams, decided that someone must do something about ending the first world war. As they packed their trunks, friends would visit them saying, "But you can’t!" Emily and Jane would respond—"Oh yes we can and we will!"

So in 1915, without the permission of the United States government, Emily Greene Balch, a Unitarian, and Jane Addams visited fourteen countries, interviewing twenty-two prime ministers, the presidents of two republics, one king and one pope.

They talked to them all about peace and ending the war. They said, "Someone must do something, and this time the someone is us!"

After a lifetime devoted to peace, Emily Greene Balch won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946, and the American Unitarian Association cited her for her peace work in 1955.

Emily Greene Balch was someone who did something. As a Unitarian she worked for peace.

Copyright: The author has given Unitarian Universalist Association member congregations permission to reprint this piece for use in public worship. Any reprints must acknowledge the name of the author.

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Last updated on Thursday, April 24, 2014.

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