JANUARY 2, 1950
JANUARY 2, 1950
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I have been deluged in the past few days by requests to give my views on what will happen in the next 50 years as regards peace; to review the most important happenings and accomplishments by people in the last 50 years; to forecast the work that will be done and to give the names of those I think most likely to accomplish it, etc. etc., ad infinitum.
I am no prophet and I dislike trying to project my thoughts into the future to construct the kind of world which probably would have an influence on the next 50 years. It might be good and it might be bad.
The old-fashioned habit of making New Year's resolutions is one still practiced by many Americans. When I was young the resolutions were not often too serious on New Year's Day. The serious ones waited to come when Lent was upon us and the children were told to give up candy for that season or to give up some favorite dessert which to us seemed a very real and serious sacrifice.
Today these things seem very small to me, but the New Year's resolution remains and grows more important year by year. One cannot ask for specific things for oneself or for one's children or one's friends. But one can and should ask, I think, to be given the qualities of mind and heart and spirit which will make it possible for us to live better in this world, to serve our country with greater efficiency, and in our own little corner, wherever we may be, to advance the cause for which we work. This should be not only at home but in the world as a whole.
One of the questions most frequently asked is: "What can I do to help bring peace into the world?"
It seems to me that New Year's is a good day to try to think that question out. Surely, we can do nothing outside of our own sphere of influence, and that sphere is not likely, for the most part, to touch directly into the field of government or world affairs. Nevertheless, if we have eyes to see we can so live in our own surroundings that we will pull our friends and our community to a greater sense of obligation to make democracy succeed in order that it may help to bring about peace in the world.
It is true that the Communists say we are attempting to impose our will on them by keeping them in constant fear lest we are going to attack them. That can only mean that they know that they might attack us and, therefore, are afraid of what may lie in the back of our minds.
I do not know how we can persuade them that our desires lie in the direction of peace, but at least we need do nothing which would substantiate their suspicions. Little by little they may come to trust us more and believe us. In the meantime, if we devote ourselves to improving our own democracy we will give them less and less cause to find fault with us and make it more and more apparent that democracy has everything that communism can offer. Everything plus freedom, which to us, means a great deal.