JUNE 15, 1940
WASHINGTON, Friday—A great friend of mine, Miss Martha Gellhorn, arrived from New York City yesterday afternoon. After dinner, three of us sat out on the south porch with our eyes fixed on the gleaming whiteness of the Washington Monument and talked as everybody else does today of the world in which we find ourselves, and of the preparation we must make in our minds to meet the future.
I was interested to find in the two women with whom I was talking, a greater understanding of the attitude of our young people than one usually discovers in the older generation. Our great writers and those of us of lesser degree, have told youth how horrible and futile war is. Honest people, whether they are artists or just ordinary individuals, must tell the truth as they see it, and there are few of us today who believe that war is an instrument for good. We know that it calls out in human beings fine qualities, but so does any event requiring great self-sacrifice.
Being honest, we would not want to change our teaching. We hope that youth will always feel that war is a horrible thing, but we know that we have to meet circumstances as they exist and that when there is a war of opposing ideas and it becomes a war of force, there is nothing to do but accept force as a weapon, unless we wish to accept that which submission represents. The choice is not as yet before us, but we must in our minds prepare to meet it if necessary, and so must all our young people.
I can't blame them for not liking the choice. I can't blame them for trying to find alternatives to it. If you haven't lived at all, or have lived very unsatisfactorily, and no one has been particularly interested in how you have lived, it is a bit ironic to find that you are chided for not wanting to die. So let us have patience with young or old who find it hard to face the mental preparation necessary to meet today's peculiar conditions. Circumstances and time will force us to ultimate decisions and I have faith that they will be the right ones.
I receive word every day of small groups that are trying to do relief work in different parts of Europe. Mr. and Mrs. Waitstill Sharp, of Massachusetts, under the auspices of the Friends of Czechoslovakia, and cooperating with the Red Cross and other organizations, have just sailed to work among youth and children of France.
Of course, it seems to me that all such groups should be coordinated in closer cooperation with the Red Cross, for all available workers and all possible equipment should be directed by a coordinating group. I hope experienced workers such as these will realize this necessity and put themselves under the direction of a central organization.
I spent the morning getting my usual summer permanent wave and I discovered that new inventions made it much pleasanter than in the past, so we move along even in matters of such trivial importance as curling ladies' hair.