JULY 27, 1937
HYDE PARK, Monday—I have just read a most interesting article by Pearl Buck which came to me in pamphlet form: "On Discovering America." In it she says a few things which I think should be stressed. She explains one of our dominating qualities in a very interesting way, and I quote it here as a preface to a picture which she later draws:
"For we Americans, we are restless, the restless of all nations. None but the restless has ever come to America. The quiet- hearted, the contented, the peaceful minds, are still on old country farms, in old country shops and business offices. They are not here. Not one of us belongs to them. A similar spirit has driven us out from among them and has driven us together. When visitors speak with wonder of the ceaseless hurry and activity which is such a part of the American temperament, I am not surprised. For were we not naturally restless, none of us would be Americans at all. There would be no America and Indians would roam our hills and valleys still. Restlessness, then, is our essential nature."
As a result of her many years in China she takes the long view, and this is what she sees in a thousand, or five thousand years perhaps—the pure American of the future.
"I can not but believe he will be an extraordinary person, that pure American, who will be standing in my place five thousand years from today. He will have what no other human being has had in just the same richness, the inheritance of all ages, all races, all cultures. He will have a fine direct eagerness which will be our restlessness, refined by centuries, but concentrated, too, into a driving force, which will carry him to heights of human knowledge which we can not even dream of now. We will be a true superman, standing on the shoulders of those from all nations and races of the earth."
Let us hope that her vision is one of clear prophecy.
I know a few Americans today who measure up to this vision, but the value of what Pearl Buck has done lies in giving us as a nation an ideal to work for. We do not as a rule, project ourselves into the future, but if we can keep this vision in mind what a difference it will make in the way we rear our children and the way we look at questions of public interest! If this is the kind of American that we are making, we must not allow him to be dwarfed by surroundings and circumstances which make it impossible for him to develop along these lines.
This has been a good day, I took a little longer road in order to stop and see some friends I always like to talk with. One of them is living a quiet life just now, but the quiet times are those in which the worthwhile people deepen and enrich their personalities and become infinitely more valuable to their friends.