The success of the conservation movement in the United States depends in the end on the understanding the women have of it. No forward step in this whole campaign has been more deeply appreciated or more welcomed than that which the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other organizations of women have taken in appointing conservation committees.
Patriotism is the key to the success of any nation, and patriotism first strikes its roots in the mind of the child. Patriotism which does not begin in early years may, though it does not always, fail under the severest trials. I say “not always,” for many men and women have proved their patriotic devotion to this country although they were born elsewhere. Yet, as a rule, it must begin with the children. And almost without exception it is the mother who plants patriotism in the mind of the child. It is her duty. The growth of patriotism is first of all in the hands of the women of any nation. In the last analysis it is the mothers of a nation who direct that nation’s destiny.
The fundamental task of patriotism is to see to it that the Nation exists and endures in honor, security, and well-being. Fortunately there is no question as to our existing in honor, and little if any as to our continuing to exist in security.
The great fundamental problem which confronts us all now is this: Shall we continue, as a Nation, to exist in well-being? That is the conservation problem.
If we are to have prosperity in this country, it will be because we have an abundance of natural resources available for the citizen. In other words, as the minds of the children are guided toward the idea of foresight, just to that extent, and probably but little more, will the generations that are coming hereafter be able to carry through the great task of making this Nation what its manifest destiny demands that it shall be.
Women should recognize, if this task is to be carried out, one great truth above all others. That this Nation exists for its people, we all admit; but that the natural resources of the Nation exist not for any small group, not for any individual, but for all the people—in other words, that the natural resources of the Nation belong to all the people—that is a truth the whole meaning of which is just beginning to dawn on us. There is no form of monopoly which exists or ever has existed on any large scale which was not based more or less directly upon the control of natural resources. There is no form of monopoly that has ever existed or can exist which can do harm if the people understand that the natural resources belong to the people of the Nation, and exercise that understanding, as they have the power to do.
It seems to me that of all the movements which have been inaugurated to give power to the conservation idea, the foresight idea, there is none more helpful than that the women of the United States are taking hold of the problem. We must make all the people see that now and in the future the resources are to be developed and employed, yet at the same time guarded and protected against waste—not for small groups of men who will control them for their own purposes, but for all the people through all time.