- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 1 May 1930, p. 180-194
- Cromie, Robert J., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A trip around the world. Keeping in mind the size and population of Canada as we compare Asian countries with our own, and their productive capacity with ours. An analogous comparison of a country with an individual. Canada and Egypt as lucky countries, and why that is so. Starting from the Pacific Coast, the speaker takes us on a cursory tour of the world, looking at various economic, cultural, and social aspects of each country. Places encountered are Hawaii, Japan, China, the Philippines, Siam, Java, India, Egypt, Jerusalem, Pompeii, Palestine, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, England. Some conclusions. The population problem. Trade
- Date of Original
- 1 May 1930
- Language of Item
- Copyright Statement
- The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
- Empire Club of CanadaEmail
Agency street/mail address
Fairmont Royal York Hotel
100 Front Street West, Floor H
Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3
- Full Text
- THE WORLD IN PERSPECTIVE
AN ADDRESS BY ROBERT J. CROMIE, OF VANCOUVER.
1st May, 1930
MR. WILLIAM TYRRELL, who was in the Chair, introduced the speaker, who said: We are starting out on a trip around the world today, and we must do it in quick time. There are two or three things I wish you would carry in mind, as they will help you get a real perspective as we hop around. Look at the size of Canada (indicating on map), three and a half million square miles; then look at the population, only ten million. When we get over to those countries in Asia and compare their populations and square mileage with ours, and their productive capacity with ours, you will come to the same conclusion that I have come to.
A country is just like an individual. An individual tries to make enough money to live on out of some peculiar genius that he has, or some particular commodity that he has to sell, and he tries to keep a pinch of change over in his pocket. A country that grows enough to live on and has a surplus left to sell is very lucky. Canada is in that position; we grow enough to live on; we have our fruits, our wheat, and our metals. Egypt grows enough to live on, and in addition has a two or three hundred million crop of cotton; Egypt is lucky.
Starting out on this trip from the Pacific Coast, the first place we come to is Hawaii. Hawaii certainly has what the rest of the world talks about. She grows enough to live on and has 35 to 40 million dollars worth of pineapples and about the same of sugar, and a climate that is unequalled anywhere else in the world. When the sun goes down in Hawaii, there is no twilight; so when that big ball of molten lead goes down in Hawaii, in a short time it is dark. The men come out, and those Hawaiian men are just like big boys. They get out and serenade you, and there is something that creeps over you; that is the spell of the tropics. If you ever get a chance, go and see Hawaii.
Leaving Hawaii, you go over to Japan. Look at thesize of Canada, three and a half million square miles, ten million people; look at little Japan with sixty million people. You certainly have to hand it to Japan for what she has done with the little that Nature has given to her. How do they live in Japan? Well, their life is very simple, compared with ours. Get out at Yokohama and go to Tokio, the capital. What does it look like? Well it is just like going from Toronto to Hamilton, only every foot of the way is occupied with little farms. All the way up the mountain side, every foot of land is taken, everything is producing. What does a house look like? Go into a little Japanese house, whether rich or poor, probably about half the size of this table, a sort of glorified doll's house. You walk in, take off your shoes, put on your sandals, and you come to a highly polished floor. They have only about a quarter of the furniture that we have, and half of what they have is put away, and taken out next week--changed around, like that. You sit down at a table a foot high, you warm your hands, and a little meal is brought in. Go to a manufacturing plant in Kobe and you will see three thousand girls working in a cotton factory under the most ideal conditions, and handled with less friction and fuss, and certainly a fraction of the food that was served to us here at luncheon today. (Laughter.) Their people live there, and another sixty million in Korea and Formosa, under those conditions. In the last forty or fifty years Japan has evolved from a little agricultural and fishing country to a great industrial nation. Modernization means mechanization, and that means metals. Who has got them? Canada has metals; Canada is full of them. If Japan can do that in thirty or forty years, what is big China to do? Leave Japan to her economic evolution, and it will be all right and good only as she tries in a big way to cater to China. That is where her service will come in.
The new government is more open-minded, and they are trying with that spirit, instead of running China at the point of a bayonet, to help and work with her.
Coming to China, look at the size of Canada and look at the size of China--three and a half million square miles to four million square miles; ten million people to 425 or 450 million people. China has every variety of climate from 20 degrees north up to about 60 degrees. It has a productive soil, it has an Asiatic background, and China as I see it will evolve politically and economically into a great republic, just as surely as the United States has evolved. And I will tell you why. With that variety of climate, producing semi-tropical crops down here, to cereal crops up in the north, you have every variety of production, and every variety of people from the little agile fellow in Canton to the big Manchu or Mongolian in the north. These observations are my own, and I am just a traveller like one of yourselves. There are many men who might not agree with my observations, but as long as they will take them as honestly advanced, that is all I ask. You say, What about all these revolutions and banditry and famines? China lives along three great rivers; she has only 7,000 miles of railway, whereas we have 300,000 on this continent. If you have good crops on this river, and poor up here, how are you going to get the crops over to them? Last night Canada went to bed worrying over a carry-over of 300 million bushels of wheat. Last night China went to bed, and from 25 to 30 million of her people were starving to death. The real problem is not a problem of over-production, it is a problem of getting production to where it is wanted. We are particularly interested in that because we are sitting here with great big commodities of the world, and if we were only conscious of world trends and world demands in those commodities, we could get them where they are wanted. The economic end of the League of Nations could move into China and erect a structure there just as easily as a financial promoter could move into a province in Canada and throw together three or four of the various public utilities into workable profitable groups. And you will see in the next two or three or five years the League of Nations in China.
What does China look like? Many of you have been there, but for the sake of those of you who have not, let us go to Pekin from a neighbouring city. That is like going from Winnipeg to Calgary. It is over long low plateau lands, and you come in sight of Pekin sitting like your finger-nail on the prairie. All the day long you pass farm after farm, not a foot of ground not used. There is no man in the world that has kept closer to the soil than the Chinese. And every few hundred yards you will see the little graves. They pay more attention to the dead than they do to the living, but they will get over that. (Laughter.) Look again at these three rivers, with all the business of China flowing in and out of them. You will get pockets of population in there of sixty million people and not a mile of railway, and that business controlled by those so-called international concessions of Shanghai and Hong Kong. How would we like it in Canada if we had Japan and China and Germany sitting on our necks in Montreal and Vancouver, and all the business of Canada going in and out of those ports controlled by them? Well, when you think of that, that is the position, largely, that you have in those international concessions. That might have been all right fifty or sixty or seventy-five years ago, or even twenty-five, but it is not the vogue today, and those powers who own those concessions have got to get off there and be compensated, but at least get out of there and give the Chinese a chance. Give the Chinese a chance and they will evolve into a successful republic.
When you go over to China and those Asiatic countries you will see the women doing the hard work; you will see the man strutting along like the lord and master, and you will see his wife about four paces in the rear. Four paces in the rear is the attitude of all the women of Asia to the risen. You get down in India or over in Egypt and you will probably see a man riding on a little donkey and his toes lapping the ground, and his wife coming along behind carrying a big load. In this country, we probably spoil our women; I do not know. (Laughter.) Civilization, after all, is judged by its attitude to the women and children. I have monkeyed with some of the philosophers and I have tried to figure out why some of the women over here have not got along socially. I have never read in Buddha or Confucius an elevating reference to women; Jesus was the first man who recognized the place of woman in this life, and I believe that our Christian countries owe a great deal of our social evolution of our women to Christianity. (Applause.) Now the Asiatic countries are coming along. I noticed in Japan, one night, at a little supper there were fifteen young fellows at one side of the table, and fifteen girls, and it was a new thing for the girls. I noticed in other parts of Asia, when we would be handing our women into the car ahead of us instead of just jumping in and letting them walk along, the women were looking; they watched. Those women are just like our women; all they want is a chance.
We are trying to take the load off the people. In North America we have now $23.50 worth of machinery per individual; the figure is about the same in Canada and the United States. The next nation is England with $11.00 worth of machinery per individual. Germany would come next with $9.00. Agricultural France with about $4.00 or $4.50. Russia would be about fifty cents. When you get over to Asia, it is fifty cents and under. Going through these countries, that picture of machinery is reflected immediately on what you see men and women doing. Some people will say, especially labour, "Oh well, these new machines are putting us out of business." You ask them if they want to go back and do with their hands and their backs what they are doing in Asia.
Slip down now to the Philippines. In the Philippines you have a population equal to Canada's. They are lowlying, muggy, and little evolved above the negroid type, and I do not look for a very high social and economic evolution in the Philippines. They do not like the United States any more than India likes Britain. The public never cares for its benefactors.
Come to Siam. It is the quaintest little kingdom in the whole world. It has kept its own royal family and its own railways, and when you get over in those countries you get some of the conceit taken out of you. When they held our motor car, as they did in Japan, for twenty minutes, because the Empress's train was going on the crossing, and where in Siam a little brown fellow tells you to move on, you think some of those people and their religions and their royal family mean as much to them as ours do to us. That is why it is necessary to get a world perspective. What is cold to us here in Canada is hot to those in the arctic; what is hot to us is cold to the people in the tropics. What is poverty to us is affluence in Asia, and what is immoral to us in Canada you might find is a regular practice there. So you have to get a world perspective and not look at it in the isolated view of the four walls of your own office, or your own Toronto, or your own province. When you see the world in perspective and see what is going on, you see the trends in the trades you are interested in.
Now leaving Siam and coming to Java, look at the size of Vancouver Island and look at the size of Java. Ten million people in Canada; forty million in Java. Java is just like a great big farm. It is run and owned by the Dutch. They have a right to one-fifth of all the production of Java. Java lies right on the equator like Borneo and Sumatra. It is coming on in a tremendous way; these two places have not been developed, but Java has. But the life span is short in Java. Take any one of the 450 varieties of wild orchids in the botanical gardens in Batavia, and in an hour it has faded. Take any one of the luscious fruits, so delicately flavoured; at night it has decayed. It is the same with the women. Girls are married at twelve; they have families at twenty, and at thirty they are old women. If you want to see a picture of Old Mother Nature, the way we turn up out of the soil, evolve, blossom, and go back, go to Java. You are walking on three or four inches of decayed vegetation, that has not had time to get back into the soil. That process of devolution has not had time to get completed. Going across Java, you have lovely railways and fine big hotels, and it swarms with life. But the women there seem to have outlived the men, and there are more women than men. Take the island of Balla, near Java; they have the habits of centuries ago, and you will see three or four women club together and buy a husband. (Laughter.) You will see the old boy walking along with an umbrella over his head, and a fighting cock under his arm, and you will see his three or four wives trailing behind.
Come up to Singapore, which sits out on the tip of the Malay Peninsula like a long sandspit. There are three million people on the Malay Peninsula, but it is low-lying, muggy and hot; but it is not like Java. Java lies on an elevation of 1,000 to 3,000 feet, whereas in Singapore it is all that low-lying sandspit. They grow rubber and sugar cane and copra and tropical fruits, but I do not look for anything from them in the way of metals like you may get from other countries.
Leaving Singapore, you slip up through Mandalay and Burma, and then you come to India. There is a poor sorry mess in India. Look at the size of India. Canada has ten million people on three and a half million square miles. India has 325 million people in a dry, hot, inhospitable country that could not support on our basis of living 30 or 40 million people. When I went to India I suppose I had the idea that lots of people have; I thought that the British were be-devilling India. When you get there you see the problems of India, and see how poor she is. Here is a little store in India; the storekeeper is selling grains. The stores are level with the streets there, and the old boy is sitting there with his legs crossed, and a little tray of wheat and a tray of corn and a tray of rice. A little woman comes up with a pinched face and she puts down a pice; that is a quarter of a cent; India is what they call a pice country. He puts in a little scoop of grain and he puts in a little handful--what we do in a bushel. Ninety percent of the people live by agriculture, and the average annual income is 40 rupees, that is $10.00. Ten dollars to keep a family a year! Here is a farmer plowing, and he has a sort of cow tied up with ropes and a plow that is a little old sort of a stick tickling the ground for a couple of inches, where we would go along with a gang plow taking up five or six furrows of ten inches. All India is on that basis. India's trade in mass is a great big thing, but individually, no. India produces the cheapest brig iron in the world. India ranks sixth in export trade to the world. She produces the largest sugar crop in the world, but the economic evolution of India will never be in. keeping with the productivity of the country. In addition to having a poor country, you have parasites which we would not keep or tolerate for one minute. There are four parasites in India, but that would not include the British. I would put the British at the tail end if they can be considered parasites. The first would be the thirteen or fourteen million head of wild animals, monkeys, and crows that are eating the sustenance that belongs to women and children. The next is child marriage. You see girls ten and twelve and fourteen years cold who are married to older men, raising families before their bodies have had time to form. You cannot produce a people that way. Then sanitation. They do not know what sanitation is. A fellow in Benares had lost three girls from plague. He was in a cigarette store and I was talking to him, and I saw rats running in and out of the corner, and I said, "Couldn't you kill those?" He said, "Oh, I guess so." I said, "Don't they carry the plague?" He said, "Oh yes." Well, why don't you kill-them?" I asked. He said, "Oh well, it was against his religion." In Benares you walk around with lepers, too. The fourth parasite is the royal princes. You and I do not know what regal splendour is. You see them with their long, fine gowns and their turbans bejewelled, and you see them playing polo in Delhi, as I did one afternoon with the Viceroy, playing polo on $5,000 polo ponies, instead of getting over to Canada and the United States and Europe and seeing how to do things and taking that information back to their people. I would certainly put those fellows out of India, or put them to work. (Laughter.) So if there are parasites in India, eliminate those parasites, and then talk about eliminating the British.
What does India look like? Starting from Calcutta, where we spent two weeks, going from the swamps of Bengal to the Himalayas, where you see Mount Everest, all the way up to Darjeeling are tea plantations. Tea is a little bush like a currant bush. Then come down to Benares; that is the holy city; go to the Ganges in the morning. Buddha was pretty cute. He wanted to get those fellows up early in the morning and get them working, and get them clean if he could. So he told them if they got up at the rising sun and dipped in the Ganges three times they would get rid of their sins. You can get a boat and go out before sunrise, and you will see them coming down by tens of thousands just when the sun comes up. They take their dips and then slip around and dry themselves, and off to work. Then you go to Agra; that is where the Taj Mahal is. If you ever go to India, go and see the Taj Mahal; it is man's great masterpiece. There is nothing like it in the world. It is a memorial, built by Emperor Shah Jehan to his deceased wife. After it was finished, the Emperor had the architect's eyes put out, because he did not want it duplicated. That man put something into the symmetry and form of that marble mausoleum that there is nowhere else in the world. When you go down there at night and see those thousands of people going in and out of the Taj Mahal, and never a cloud in the blue, starry sky, there is something again that creeps over you.
From Agra you go to Delhi; that is the capital, where they are spending fifty million dollars on the new buildings. Then you go to Baroda where they have the elephant stables, with the solid gold carriages and the solid silver carriages and their trappings. Then you come to Bombay with eight miles of boulevards, and fine buildings, and you see Canadian companies.
India will evolve socially, economically and politically, but her evolution will never be in keeping with the productivity of the country. So let us leave her to work out her own salvation. She will do it; there might be a few heads cracked in the meantime, but that means nothing in the total picture, and the total working out of any situation like that. Leave Bombay and come over through the Red Sea down to Egypt. Look at the size of Canada with ten million people; look at the size of Egypt; it is nothing but four or five miles on each side of the Nile, but Egypt has six million acres and thirteen million people. We have 16,000 people in the Peace River and 20 million acres of land that beats the Nile Valley. Egypt is very interesting for these reasons: at Cairo you have the Pyramids, at Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, and at Assuan the great dam. If you want to get a picture of the world you have got to hold it off like that and look at it in perspective. At Luxor you can go into the Valley of the Kings and see the way they did things four thousand years ago. Then go over to Carthage and see three thousand years ago. Then go across and see the Parthenon of Socrates' time and slip over to Jerusalem, and then to Pompeii and see two thousand years ago, and then to Europe and see fifteen hundred years ago, and to England and see five or six hundred years ago, and then slip over here and see three hundred. Then you get a perspective of the world that takes some of the conceit out of you. When you walk down into one of those royal tombs--to you want to go down with me? All right. You will go up in a big valley, the Valley of the Kings, and there are forty to sixty dynasties there. Going into that solid wall of the mountain side you bore in about 80 or 100 feet of a tunnel in the solid rock. There was no dynamite in those days. When you get to the end of the tunnel you come to four or five or six rooms about ten by twelve and about eight feet high. The ceilings and walls are painted. You see on the wall the soldier, the sailor, the agriculturist. You see what he was doing. You see the cereals he was growing, the animals he was raising. The colours on it are just as vivid as that. The painting reproduces the life of that day; you see the doctor's instruments, the dentist's instruments, the chariot of the royal mummy himself. When you walk into King Tut's tomb it is like walking into four thousand years ago. If my next incarnation is going to be a long wait like this I had better make the best of this one, because after all life is short, and the effective part of it is still shorter; so if you and I want to make the most of our life, we certainly have got to forget about the one or two hundred whims we have and try to think of the big things of our country, and its potentialities, and the potentialities of ourselves.
Perfection in this world, after all, is making the most of what you have. We are not all the same, we have not all the same potentialities, and the countries of the world have not the same potentialities, so that what is perfection for you might not be perfection for me, might not be attainable to me. We cannot all be like Jesus; He was born to greatness. But if we make the most of what we have and our own environment and our own countries, and if our men in high position, instead of fussing over those little things, will get the big picture, the world picture, and the picture of their own country, why you can evolve in one-tenth of the time it would otherwise take. Luther Burbank was a great man; you could see his long, sensitive fingers in those gardens of his, almost as much a part of the flowers as the flowers themselves. He said: "You see this walnut tree; walnuts are very hard to grow, but I have done with my experiments in one year what, if left to itself, would have taken fifteen years." I say the same thing to our men in public life and to us of the newspaper profession: if we will only figure on the places where we can cut in and short-circuit a lot of nonessentials, we can do in one year what, if left to itself, would take ten or fifteen years to do, and we can do for our country what, if left to itself, would take several years to do. I say, when you go down and look at that four-thousand-year-old picture, it starts you thinking.
Then you go over to Palestine. If you have any religious scruples, keep away from Palestine. (Laughter.) You see the Christian, the Greek, the Catholic, and the Hebrew with their rituals and dogma around the Tomb, and the place of the Nativity, and keeping so far away from the teachings of that simple man, Jesus, that you certainly would never recognize them; for His teachings, when you boil them down, are very simple and easy to understand. His law of human relations-the Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you-does not require very much ritual or dogma. The laws of life and the laws of God are the laws of nature. If you want to be happy and healthy, tune in on nature's laws instead of the ritual which gets so far away from the real essence of life. It is very simple, so that the teacher or paper of the man in public life who are tuning in their constituents in the simple laws, whether they are economic or physical--they are the men that are getting their countries and their people somewhere, and in Canada the potentialities are so great to work on, that we are really doing something worth while.
I wanted to see the hills of Judaea where the shepherds were feeding their flocks by night. In Palestine you never see a field of grain. There was not enough grass on the whole hills of Judaea to feed a sheep. I thought the Jordan was like the St. Lawrence, but I jumped over it with one jump. (Laughter.) I mention that to show you that, when you get away from a thing and put a long time between you and antiquity, it seems very great.
Come on to Turkey. Turkey has a few things the world wants, tobacco and currants. Their evolution will be all right but slow. Greece: Their money ratio is five to six; they produce five for every six they spend. Come to Italy. You have certainly got to hand it to Mussolini for what he has done for that little country. He has got order out of chaos, and don't you think Mussolini is running Italy with a whip; he is 'running it with the spirit of Fascism. They like it, but it would be better if he could slip out of the picture and let his spirit carry on his work. In Italy they have something we have not got; they have the art of living, whether it is in the Mussolini Theatre in Rome or in a little street or restaurant. When they eat they get into the spirit of the thing. When we eat, you see a man going over into a corner and eating by himself. When they eat they get together, three or four of them in wholesome fellowship. They have got the spirit of living. Our materialism has run a little ahead of our artistic and cultural enjoyments; but we will catch up.
Spain is Latin and its Latinism is expressed in the churches, but it is a productive country and it will be fine. Rural France is all right. Look at those little countries of Europe you can run over in three or four hours, Belgium and Holland. Germany will come back but she will never be the Germany she was, because the Allies have been very clever and have emasculated agricultural Germany from industrial Germany and what they owned before. They produced about 14 million tons of cereals and roots, and about 14 million head of animals, sheep and hogs and cattle. Those countries of Europe are big in our minds and big in their populations, but they are not very big when they are compared with Canada.
Uncle Sam has something on England; this fellow in Italy has something on England; this fellow in China has something on England. But England has got something on every other country on earth. If you ask me what it is, I could not tell, unless it is that she has got herself in hand better than any other people on earth. She has a sort of world perspective, a world philosophy, and perhaps that makes her get herself in hand. My mother was English; she sang in Westminster choir; my father was Irish. Nevertheless, try to look at England and her problems with your mental yardsticks that you put on other countries; you can see that she will go on, she will keep the position when she wins it economically or industrially. Whether she expresses herself over there, or through you and me here in Canada, that is just the same; she will carry on and work herself out, and before she has exhausted the 24 billions that she has in her pockets, she will get on to the ways of things. (Applause.)
Now we have made our trip, and what do we see? We see the real problem is a problem of population. Which would you rather be, one of ten million shareholders in a big country like Canada, or one of twenty million in Japan, or 400 million in China? What is our trend? Well, the whole trend of Asia's trade has been in and out of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean to Europe. The whole trade of Western Canada was in and out of Montreal and those places. Some of us got it into our heads that we could save the farmers some money by pouring it out on the Pacific. We can put Asia on her feet by swinging that trade away from Europe, just as easily as the grain trade of Western Canada was swung into those natural channels, that is, that portion of it that was. It cost me six cents a word to send a message from India to England; it cost sixty cents here. It cost four cents a word from England to Toronto; it cost forty cents from Japan to Vancouver. You and I and the business men, particularly of Eastern Canada, have got to help our governments break trail across the Pacific and open up those channels, because there lies for us in Asia the business and the trade of twenty Western Canadas. How can we do that? Just by getting the world perspective, and keeping that in mind, by keeping in mind the necessity of communications across there. Where would Canada be today without the trade binding east and west? Where will Asia be industrially if we do not tie in on that business? If we in Canada keep our bloodstream pure and keep our herd small, we have the finest human feeding ground in the whole world. I am glad I am a Canadian, after seeing those other countries. (Applause.) I am proud that I live in Canada. Over in Japan I was talking to a chum of mine from the Eastern Townships. I said, "What do you do at nights?" He said, "Oh, I am a radio fan." "But over here," I said, "who do you listen to?" "Oh," he said, "I listen every night to Australia; I get Albert Hall and Covent Garden, and most nights I get Philadelphia." The world is becoming a small unit; there is a fellow in Japan listening in this very minute on everything that is going on in the world, Keep our herd small and our bloodstream pure, and, as I say, we have the finest country to live in, that there is in the whole world. (Applause.)
The thanks of the Club were tendered to the speaker by Horn. N. W. ROWELL.