MAY 20, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—At 5 p.m. on Saturday a railroad strike was called which, if it is carried through after the present truce, will practically paralyze the nation and cause great loss in time and perishable goods. In this dispute, I cannot find it in my heart to blame the railroad men, because I know that life has been none too easy for them during the years of the war. They stood by when trains were crowded, when old equipment was being used and people were worried and tired. The cost of living has gone up, the hours of engineers and trainmen and conductors have been longer, not shorter; and when the war came to an end, there was no longer the patriotic reason to carry on. The men feel naturally enough that it is time for someone to think about them, instead of their having to think about the people.
Unfortunately, the public may not stop to consider the merits of this case if strike action is ultimately taken. Neither the management of the railroads nor the labor leaders seem to realize that when you make the public uncomfortable enough and they have no patriotic reason for bearing it, they are going to be completely unreasonable. They are going to be willing to accept and even to back bad labor legislation, and they are not going to be one bit interested in whether the management makes or loses money. A strike would make for bad feeling all around.
Sometimes, when I see how inadequate we are at settling these disputes among ourselves reasonably, I despair about a peaceful world. Since our interests are so obviously tied together, we would all be better off if we sat down around a table and found out what could be done about our difficulties—and then did it. If we can't do this in labor disputes at home, how on earth do we expect to do it when the people concerned belong to different nations?
One might feel here and there that one had an individual who was impossible to deal with. But most people are reasonable, and public opinion should take care of the unreasonable ones. If we don't begin soon at home to find ways of settling our troubles, I will not be the only one who is going to despair for the world.
While this destructive business goes on, there is one constructive thing that starts next Tuesday morning, and that is the final drive to raise the money needed to fight cancer. It will be a house-to-house canvass in many parts of the nation. The people who conduct this drive call themselves "The Army of Hope." Thirty to 50 percent of them have had cancer and been cured.
Sixty percent of whatever is raised will remain in the locality, so that a program of education, service and research can be carried on there. The remaining 40 percent goes to the American Cancer Society to forward its program of research in the cause and cure of cancer. Statistics show that one death out of eight in the nation is due to cancer. In New York City it is one out of every five. So it would be a very great saving of human lives if people could learn that everybody is vulnerable and only education and research can reduce the danger.