AUGUST 12, 1939
HYDE PARK, Friday—I entirely forgot to tell you about a most frivolous entertainment we went to the other night. Ginger Rogers is one of the young movie stars who came to Washington for one of the Birthday Balls, and I liked her very much. When we heard that her picture, "Batchelor Mother," was on, some of us went to Poughkeepsie to see it. The movie seems an impossible story, but it is amusing and charmingly done.
Another short film, "The Giant of Norway," was shown and it impressed me very much. It briefly tells the work done by Nansen for refugees under the League of Nations. I remember meeting Mr. Nansen on various occasions. You felt that he was suited to an outdoor life of adventure and, above all, he was an outdoor type of person. Yet he spent years of his life at a desk interminably talking in diplomatic terms to people who diplomatically desired to do little or nothing. It was a big sacrfice to ask of any man, and yet thousands of people who do not even know his name, have blessed the work he did on their behalf.
I have a letter from a lady who puts me on the spot for my suggestion that we ask our representatives questions which will keep them working on this question of peace. She mentions also Clarence Streit's book: "Union Now" and asks what I think of it. The answer is I think it grand, but the trouble with the work we have all been doing as private citizens, in organizations, as public officials, or as writers, is that all our good ideas usually reach the ears only of people who don't need them at all. We, in the United States, don't need to be told that we want peace, and yet how are the things which we have to say, to reach the ears of the people of the world who are either carrying on a war or putting the major part of their effort into preparations for war?
Of course, I would keep right on urging the leaders in every peaceful nation to continue asking the nations of the world to come together and discuss their basic antagonisms and difficulties. It seems to me that, if enough people insist upon this and a meeting is called, attended by those nations who are willing to talk things over, some word, in spite of all efforts at censorship, will seep through to the people of every nation. It will be more difficult to make the people of belligerent nations, therefore, believe that the rest of the world is opposed to meeting together for discussion of mutual difficulties.
I do not think meetings should be held for the purpose of criticizing other nations or for stimulating new hatreds. I think any meetings held should have as an underlying principle the idea that we are going to eliminate, even at great sacrifice to ourselves, the difficulties which bring about antagonisms and eventually war. Everyone agrees that war today will leave no victors and means only the postponement of necessary economic changes which will eventually have to be made under even more difficult conditions. And yet we do nothing.