JULY 21, 1939
HYDE PARK, Thursday—Quite unexpectedly, I spent all day yesterday in New York City and I am very grateful to a kind Providence which has kept the atmosphere remarkably cool for this time of the year. I did two chores while there. First, I spent an hour with the dentist and now have only one more appointment before me, so next week should see me free until autumn, and then I went to the safe deposit box to find something which I had put away for someone else. I did this so carefully that I had forgotten what I had done, so I was quite at a loss where to look until they reminded me that I had mentioned the safe deposit box as the one really secure spot for anything which must not be lost.
On the way home to my apartment, I must have had a taxi driver who has seen me driving my own car about New York City. When I stopped out he said: "Does it make you nervous to have someone else drive you?" I answered: "No," and pondered over the fact that I am always quite convinced that other people can do such things as driving cars much better than I can, until they prove to me that they can't.
One of my children came to breakfast and we talked for some time. Then I made a train back to the country and peace and quiet. I know that someday, when I have no longer any obligations to do anything in this world, I am going to be very happy enjoying rural quiet and, from the sidelines, watching Nature carry on its drama of life.
A message from the President says that he will arrive late this evening and I only hope that the countryside will seem half as restful to him as it does to me. When I read the newspapers with their accounts of what happened at some meeting between men who carry great responsibilities in Washington, I realize, of course, that frequently the reports are made up of what writers have had to glean from things which people have said or left unsaid. Even at that, there is a drama behind many of these rather matter of fact stories and I often wonder whether the public ever really senses it.
Most of these men are older and have had long experience in carrying burdens, but, perhaps, from the physical standpoint, find some of the discomforts of life, such as heat and noise and constantly conflicting people, rather harder to bear than they did at twenty-five. Each of them is carrying on his own particular fight with himself day in and day out, striving to be honest with himself, deciding whether things which are in the main minor annoyances are affecting his true judgements in big questions, or whether he is using his years of experience and knowledge in the way that he means to use them.
To be honest with yourself is the hardest thing in the world, and yet, on that, and that alone, perhaps, hangs the fate of the world. And how much do the rest of us know about it? How much responsibility do we take ourselves in the matter of making decisions today which affect not only our own country but many countries? Sometimes I think if some great writer could write the true story of what must go on in the heart and mind of any one of the men carrying such grave responsibilities, it would do a world of good in raising the standard of citizenship for us, the average people who so complacently leave all burdens on the shoulders of our representatives.