May 26, 1943
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—I had a visitor this morning who came to talk on a subject which must be troubling a great many people. This woman said she knew many people, particularly women, who had lost their sons in this war, and who felt that they must have something to say about the kind of peace which will be made at the end of it.
She felt sure that the people as a whole understood quite well that during the war, meetings of the leaders had to be held where no publicity was allowed at the time. People were only told afterwards what had happened. But, the vast majority of people had such a sense of personal responsibility, that they could not be satisfied unless they felt that their leaders would give them the benefit of such facts as had a bearing on the afterwar period. Then they could allow the people to register their feelings, so that the preliminaries for peace would really be shaped in conjunction with the people.
This is no easy thing to work out, and yet there is a germ of something here that needs to be studied. A democracy can never succeed unless each individual takes responsibility for his nation, its policies and the representatives he elects. Yet, many citizens feel helpless to understand those policies and to register their desires while they are being formulated and before they are fixed. Some of the machinery for doing this in the all important days ahead should be built up. I write this so that you may think about it, just as this woman's visit started me thinking.
I have a letter from someone who really has faced a difficult problem, which may face a great many other "Victory Gardeners." This family obtained permission to plant a vacant lot adjoining their home. The owner was not using it and evidently had no objection to giving his permission, but something must have come up to change his mind. Just as everything was beginning to grow, he decided that he wished to use the lot.
Our poor gardeners were not only disappointed in their visions of future produce, but lost the opportunity of finding another plot, in addition to the money and the time they had put into this garden. The owner had agreed to let them plant the garden without paying any rent, but when he decided that he needed the land, he told them that if they paid $25 a month, he would not plow up their garden. Needless to say, the price was too high. It seems to me this little tale points to the need for some regulation to protect both parties.