DECEMBER 28, 1960
NEW YORK—I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas throughout the world has as much thankfulness in their hearts for the thoughtfulness and kindness of people and friends as I have. Even people I do not know were kind in remembering me in messages and cards, and as I may neglect to thank some of them I want to say here how grateful I am for the Christmas spirit that makes us think of other people and have such kindly feelings at this season.
The example of Christ's life should be with us every day in the year, and if we somehow could manage to keep it constantly before us I think the world would be a rather different place.
Late on Christmas afternoon some of us at Hyde Park read aloud parts of Dickens' "Christmas Carol," and while doing so it occurred to me that the world has moved forward. There are very few Scrooges of my acquaintance today, and there is a Christmas spirit that comes to all of us with the story of the birth of a little child. It is really repeated for us when every little child is born, and if we could follow from the Nativity through the years and bear in mind the principles on which Christ's life was lived there would probably be little change between the Christmas spirit which we are all so conscious of and that spirit by which we live all the year round.
Most of us probably are deterred from even trying to do this by the feeling that it would be impossible to have so much humility, so much courage, so much faith and confidence as are revealed throughout the different accounts by Christ's Disciples in the New Testament.
Even an effort, however, to remember and to ponder our own decisions and actions in the light of the principles underlying this life would make a vast difference, I venture to believe, in our everyday living. It would make a tremendous difference whether we are housewives, farmers, businessmen, politicians or statesmen, and whether we live in the United States of America or some far-distant part of the world.
The President-elect continues to see people and discuss important areas which he had outlined in his program over the past few months. It must be an exhausting but highly interesting occupation, and the opportunity he is getting to study human nature day by day will serve him well in the years that lie before him.
Someone said to me the other day that from his pictures they thought President-elect Kennedy looked older already. There is no doubt that he has plenty of reason to grow older by the minute, but I cannot say that I see any great change in him. I'm sure we can still count on the youth and energy we are going to need if we are to meet the very difficult problems of the next few years.
The newspapers report that President Eisenhower has been able to cut considerable sums from foreign aid in his new budget, and that one of the ways that had been used to stem the flow of gold from the country was the acceptance of food stuffs in payment on imports instead of gold.
This would seem to be a very wise way of conserving an outflow of gold, since we have surpluses. And if we made the effort we could have an even greater surplus in foodstuffs than we now have.
We could, with a little planning, have surpluses in foodstuffs that all peoples want. With our literate farm population and consultation with the Food and Agriculture Organization—a specialized agency of the United Nations that has made studies all over the world on needed food supplies—it would seem possible in our country where there is such a varied climate to grow what is really needed in various countries throughout the world and which these countries cannot buy from their neighbors. Sensible planning and forethought would avoid upsetting the economy of any area by offering a really needed product instead of dumping one already in good supply.
I realize well the planning this would entail and the foresight needed to carry out such a plan—and we all know that the forces of nature very often play havoc with the best-laid plans of men—but I have always thought it would be interesting if we made an effort to grow foodstuffs to the limit of our ability.
This does not mean, of course, that we should not exercise every effort to preserve our land. I have been too long trained in conservation and have seen the effects of cutting down trees merely to take advantage of a high price for a particular product.
This planning could be under proper government control, and the results of having fixed food surpluses might be beneficial to the world as well as to ourselves.