JANUARY 26, 1937
WASHINGTON, Monday—I am going to give you today a quotation from a letter which has come to me. The lady is very much in earnest, she is perhaps lacking a little in knowledge of human nature for soft words usually bring the desired results more rapidly than harsh ones! However, I feel there is much in what she says and that her appeal to the various groups she mentions will perhaps be more forceful than any I can make.
Part of her letter to me follows:
"Why don't you make your daily column a constant appeal to individuals and organizations to do their part—instead of filling it up with inane chatter about your family affairs—words, words, words, which are of very little interest to anyone and only once in a blue moon of any value whatsoever. Why do you consider those things interesting to intelligent people just because you happen to be the President's wife? Why waste your valuable time and the space in the paper with something so worthless to this, and to future generations, when you could so easily write something which might have marvelous results for the betterment of the world?
"It seems to me that for the time being every individual, all organizations and the government should, so far as it is at all possible, put aside everything else for a while and concentrate on just two things—the prevention of crime and of war. Why cannot some of the money the government spends be used to take the children and youths who will become criminals, and educate them and put them into suitable environments so that they will become normal people?
"Will you not give up some of your other activities and devote time and energy to this cause?"
There is a good deal to be said in favor of concentrating all of our thoughts and our energies on certain important things, but I feel that while this can be done and profitably done, you must occassionally have something lighter to relieve you, for just as life can not always be lived on a high note, neither can what you read or write always deal with the solemn sides of life.
The wiping out of crime is so largely an economic question because much crime arises from the fact that children grow up in undesirable surroundings and have parents that have been conditioned by the same type of environment. If we can raise people's earnings, automatically living conditions will improve, but this is a question of production, distribution and consumption, about which many people are thinking in these days. I can not agree with my correspondent that you can single out any children or young people as probably criminals and devote certain government money to their education and environment. Much government money goes into education at present, much government money goes in to the improvement of environment, but not enough can be reached in this way.