International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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23rd IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1975
Orono, Maine, USA

from Vegetarian Voice Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec 1975:

Opening Address
lattoby Gordon Latton, President of IVU

It is indeed a privilege for my wife and myself to be here at the 23rd International Vegetarian Congress, held for the first time in the United States of America.

I extend to you all a very warm welcome and hope you will have a happy and constructive time. Rudolf Steiner, the famous Anthroposophist, was speaking at a conference and after his speech which was a brilliant and inspired one, a gentleman called Herr Rittelmeyer asked him the secret of his wonderful eloquence. And he said, "I just stand up and let the word of God speak through me'. The next day it was Herr Rittelmeyer's turn to speak and he stood up on the platform and he listened and he heard nothing. He kept on listening and then he heard 'Rittelmeyer, you are a lazy dog’. Nothing is achieved without an effort. I am sure a tremendous effort has been made by Jay Dinshah and his able supporters and we all owe them a great debt of gratitude.

Heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

An American came to Britain and he bought a large estate and he took his friends around to see this estate. He showed them first a beautiful heated swimming pool and he said 'This pool is for those who like to swim in warm water', He then went a little further over the estate and he came upon a second swimming pool and this one had cold water in it. And when asked why he had a second swimming pool he answered 'This is for those who like cold water, those who like to be Spartans', He went further over the estate and he came upon a third swimming pool which had no water in it and when asked why he had this empty swimming pool he said 'This is for those who do not like to swim'.

On the programme you will see there is a tremendous variety of possible times with regard to attending lectures. So just  like the American in the story who tried to satisfy all tastes - those who have organised this conference have done their utmost to provide a very varied programme.
After I finished school it was my ambition to be a professional golfer and it was my desire to go across and play in the United States of America. When my father heard my suggestion he said ‘Yes, you may do so, but do take your medical degree first so that should you not be adequately proficient you will have your profession to fall back on'. By the time I qualified in medicine my ability to play golf had greatly diminished and my outlook on life had, by this time, also greatly changed.

Three golfers in America impressed me enormously in those days. The first one was called Walter Hagen. He was always optimistic and it is a great quality. On one occasion the competitors were discussing who would win the next big competition and each one expressed his opinion and when it was Hagen's turn to express his views he said 'I just cannot figure out who is going to be second’.

The second golfer who impressed me greatly was Jean Sarazen, This American was playing in a competition one day. He had prepared himself well and he was playing badly. He said to his Negro caddy 'I cannot understand why I am playing so badly, I went to church this morning and prayed before I came here'. The caddy replied: ‘Master when we go to church we keep our heads down'. This was his way of telling him that instead of playing properly he was lifting his head. It is a great  art to be able to point out in a kindly way when asked, the mistakes of ethers. Jean Sarazen was a cheerful and happy man.

Don't go mournfully around, gloomy and forlorn.
Try hard make your fellow men, glad that you were born.

The third great golfer was Bobby Jones. He was a lawyer and a remarkable man and his great motto was 'Keep on hitting the ball’. No matter what happens with the other players, do your best. This is a wonderful message for life.  We must not wish and grumble, but make the most of the circumstances and truly try and serve, that is the purpose of living.

Now at this conference we will have many opportunities and we must make the most of these.

A little boy went out with his mother one day and found a man with a barrow laden with fruit and vegetables, the mother made her purchases and then the kind man said to the boy 'Do you like cherries'?  The boy nodded in the affirmative and the man said ‘Do take a hand-full'.  The little boy shook his head and the man said 'Don't you want any cherries?' The boy nodded. The salesman then gave him a large handful of cherries and put them in the little boy's cap. His mother, on the way home, said 'I cannot understand why you did not take the cherries when the man offered them so kindly to you'.  The little boy answered 'His hand is bigger than mine'. He made the most of his opportunities. I hope we too will make the most of our opportunities at this conference. We must also demonstrate patience. Robert the Bruce when he was in hiding saw a spider trying to weave a web across a rocky cave, the spider tried 5 or 6 times and each time failed but on the 7th attempt succeeded. The patience of' the spider inspired Robert the Bruce, he collected his followers again and they ultimately overcame the English at the battle of Bannock Burn.

I think of the tremendous patience shown by Gibbons when he wrote 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' - this took him 28 years. And we think of the wonderful work carried out by George Bancroft, the American who spent 26 years writing the History of the United States and finally we think of Webster who spent 36 years writing his remarkable dictionary.

When Abraham Lincoln was a young man he ran for the Legislature in Illinois and was badly swamped. He then went into business and spent 17 years paying off the debts of a worthless partner. He was in love with a beautiful woman but she died. He later married a woman who was a constant burden.
Entering politics again he ran for Congress and was badly defeated. He then  tried for an appointment in the U.S. Land Office but failed. He became a candidate for  the U.S. Senate but was again defeated . In 1858 was defeated by Douglas – one failure after another. In the face of all this ha eventually became one of his country's greatest men, if not the greatest. When you think of a series of  setbacks like this, doesn't it make you feel rather small to become discouraged  just because you think you are having a hard time in life?

On one occasion Abraham Lincoln was walking in the country with General Lafayette. A slave came along and said ‘Good morning Mr. President'. Lincoln lifted his cap in return and said 'Good morning my friend'. The General said 'Fancy taking your cap off to a common slave' and Lincoln replied 'Do you think I want to be outdone in courtesy by a slave?' The power of courtesy if tremendous'.

Abraham Lincoln was leading the victorious Northern Armies against his Southern opponents and when victory was almost in sight the generals said to him 'Let us make a supreme effort now and crush the enemies'.

He said ‘No, we will stop here and show them every courtesy and endeavour to turn our foes into friends and then we shall have no further enemies' . A demonstration of the love motion moderating through him.

On one occasion St. Francis was walking in the wood with his followers and when he returned he found his little home had been entered and the food removed. His followers went out into the forest and found the culprit carrying the food in a sack and brought him back to St. Francis. St. Francis went over to the robber and put his hand on his head and said 'brother, I am sorry you were so hungry'. Please eat all the food you wish and what you do not require give that to us'. The robber was so moved that he changed his ways and became one of St. Francis's followers. A demonstration of the transmuting power of love. Our prayer would be:

To see the good in every one
To speak only what is true
To live a life above the strife
And show what love can do.

Flesh eating is the anti-thesis of love. The vegetarian way is one that embodies love to a certain extent. We are trying to liberate man from the flesh-pots of Egypt to which he is so firmly bound and to liberate the animals from the awful cruelty that is meted out to them by man forgetting that they are his younger brothers and failing to treat them with brotherly love.

We are trying to work for the abolition of the slaughter houses, those chambers of horror where so much unnecessary cruelty is meted out to the defenceless creatures and from where a noxious, measmic influence spreads far and wide which hurts all mankind.

I believe that all noble works and deeds receive a blessing from on High, may we at this conference merit such a rich blessing.