JUNE 6, 1940
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—Last night I went to a dance given by the various state societies here for the benefit of the Alliance for the Guidance of Rural Youth. I hope these societies are not only going to raise a fund to use in establishing a center here and in other places to assist young people coming from the country to the city, but that they will awaken interest all over the country in an effort to have better vocational guidance in rural districts and in all federal and state employment agencies. The work of these agencies can, I hope, be extended with special thought to the assistance to be given young people.
I had a ride this morning and a talk with Mrs. Mary Bethune who, after weeks in the hospital, is back at work in the National Youth Administration. She came to see me with the desire to get some information as to where the Negro people could function in helping the unfortunates in other countries and in taking a real part in national defense.
Every patriotic citizen is anxious to be doing something these days. However, it seems to me that probably the best thing we can do is to go about our regular jobs, doing them as well as we can, improving them where we can, keeping as calm as possible and waiting until some definite plans are evolved where we can be of real value.
I am afraid that too much desire to serve may result in neglecting the jobs in which each and every one of us should continue. I will acknowledge, however, that it is desperately hard to wait in inactivity when a battle costing thousands of human lives is going on across the sea and when things of great moment to the human race are hanging in the balance.
Perhaps this is the time to ponder over and improve our own citizenship. In Brand Whitlock's "Life of LaFayette," he quotes from a speech Lafayette made in the Chamber of Deputies in France on January 3rd, 1834. Lafayette said in substance: "Liberty is never a static thing. It has to be won over and over again. It is a living thing, never to be relegated to the archives." In another part of the book there is a letter written by General Lafayette to Mr. F. B. Morse in 1830, in which, after reviewing the gains made for democracy in Europe, he rather ruefully remarked: "But it will not be so short and so cheap as we had a right to anticipate it might be." Nothing worth having is ever "short or cheap." Perhaps our difficulty at the present time is that each and every one of us must make up our own mind where we stand and what we are willing to do for our own country and other countries. These decisions are always hard.