OCTOBER 16, 1939
HYDE PARK, Sunday—We came up the Hudson River yesterday and, even out of the train windows, the colors of the trees were marvelous to see. Later in the day, we drove over to Lenox, Mass., where the Democratic Women's Club held a nonpartisan gathering. Many people asked me how I liked the Berkshires. They seemed to forget that I live near enough to them to have known them quite well in the past, particularly during the years when our boys were in school in Groton, Mass. We used to try every new road when we drove over once a term, which was all the visiting the rector smiled upon. He always felt that intercourse between parents and boys during the school term was a little distracting to concentration on school interests.
I sat beside the district attorney for the western part of the State of Massachusetts at dinner last night. He told me that no matter where he traveled, he always returned with joy to his New England countryside and even preferred the climate. If he were told that never could he travel, he would still prefer this part of the country for year round living. I can understand this, for I feel as he does, that every season here has its particular beauties and that the sharp contrasts which we have in New England accentuate these beauties.
I know people in many other parts of the country wonder how we can stand up under such changes of climate—our snow, our rain and our wind and cold. I suppose it is all a question of to what you are accustomed. What you grow up with in your youth probably gets into your blood and remains a preference no matter what you do the rest of your life.
When I read of the sinking of a great battleship yesterday afternoon and that this morning's papers in confirming the disaster only spoke of some three or four hundred saved, I could not help but rage inwardly at the senselessness of it all. When we drove past a railroad station yesterday, I saw a group of our own very young boys in uniform getting out of a car to take the train, and I thought that on that battleship several hundred boys about that age had probably gone to their deaths quite unnecessarily. Something in your heart and head rebels against such senseless sacrifice, and yet the people of each of the warring nations are doing their duty as they see it and obeying their leaders.
They are being patriotic. The people of each nation think their own leaders want peace, but the rest of the world wants war. At least, every leader is telling his people that. Only we, who are on the outside, can evaluate today how many people are being taken in and try to study how a method can be evolved whereby in the future, leaders cannot fool their people. The fat is in the fire now for a great many people, but there is a future we hope, in which I pray that we may profit by the things which we are watching open up as a panorama before us in the world. Will we ever learn to use reason instead of force in the world, and will people ever be wise enough to refuse to follow bad leaders or to take away the freedom of other people?