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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Three: Asia

Friday, December 7

On to Zamboanga Thoughts on re-entering United States Territory. We have arrived again on home soil, through an entrance formality of customs, immigration, and public health certificates which required the "master of the vessel" to sign no less than 30 papers! But it does seem good. The world is much bigger than we ever thought, when leaving home nearly four months ago. It is broader and longer, and more complicated. To most of its peoples the name "United States" has almost no significance, and is seldom mentioned. Our handful of a hundred million persons makes no impression against the fantastically developed populations of India, of the Dutch Indies, and of China. If one seeks humility let him travel under his own steam through the equatorial regions of the earth. He will forget the puny problems at home; our party politics, the NRA, payment of the debt. Even the structure of medical practice takes on a certain absurdity; the hundreds of journals which break down the science into an unbelievable parade of little facts, many of them superfluous and repetitious; the great effort of medicine to perpetuate strains of life which justifiably could be allowed to extinguish by their own gross incapacities; the shameless attention which investigators give to tracing out the story of disease conditions whose only significance is their utter rarity, while problems affecting the whole humanity are put aside as uninteresting. If my medical experiences of the past few months could suggest a lesson, it would say that the first rule in medical progress should be expediency, and the second; a capacity for universal application.

"The Government of the United States intends to give the Philippine Islands their independence." . . Often enough has this statement appeared in the columns of our editorial writers, who pleasantly expand it into a lesson of national integrity. The policy took shape when America received the archipelago from Spain (perhaps with a guilty conscience), and volunteered to steer the Filipinos through a probationary period of self-government, and then grant them complete freedom. The proposal sounds generous and honest, - if you believe in the privilege of government. It infers that political autonomy is of itself a worthy goal toward which all decent citizens should direct the path of progress. To me, the decision must center around this point, because at times self-government may be quite the reverse of privilege, and act only to lower permanently the subject peoples toward an internal strife for which they are not fitted as a group, and to introduce them to an international competition, both commercial and military, in which they would stand at poor advantage by reason of their numbers and geographical relationships. I feel that the Philippine Islands belong to this class and would suffer tremendously by desertion on the part of the United States. They would become the only inportant group of islands in the Pacific Ocean not under the supervision of one of the large continental powers, and would forma prey for the first nation which could offer a successful excuse to take them over.

In America, the problem can be viewed with a certain detachment because we make no pretense of aims toward empire, nor do we depend greatly on trade with our few struggling colonies. In fact, it does seem that in withdrawing from the islands, we are acting chiefly to save ourselves from a troublesome duty in government in which our incapacities have been demonstrated only too amply. It was a distinct shock for example to leave the neatly managed colonies of England and Holland and enter directly into our own possession. It so happened that we were landed at the pier which has been set aside for the natives, a decayed wooden structure, where some of the rotten boards have fallen completely away, and along which we stumbled with the aid of a flashlight, the guide apologizing that after all this was only the Filipino dock. The segregation of the natives from the Americans was further accentuated by the muddy unpaved road which connected this pier with the main streets of the town. It is quite a lovely city, with a generous flavor of Spanish culture, and we pasted along toward the hotel with keen feeling for the surroundings. The hotel came as a rude surprise, however, because both in operation and internal design it reflects American hotel standards at their worst. One feels that the individuals who represent home companies out here have arrived more by accident than by choice, and that their qualities of leadership are not of the highest grade. Such a contrast with the English colonial system, which begins with the aspirations of school boys, who point their steps toward colonial service even before entering college. Henry Born told me that he had intended going out to India from his early teens and had shaped his entire education to this end . . . Perhaps my criticism is too harsh, because admittedly we are young in colonial government, but it is easy to become rebellious at the thought of withdrawing from the government and constructive leadership of this people because we have found it a distasteful task. Better by far to buckle down and do a job of it.

There was no power launch available, so we fueled the plane after dark this evening by lightering tins of gasoline on board a narrow two passenger catamaran. There is a very strong tide and the ship is moored to a marker buoy.

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