MAY 2, 1944
WASHINGTON, Monday—Speaking of short memories in a previous column made me want to give you an illustration of how short they really are!
I wonder how many of you read the following quotation from Mr. Eric Johnston's speech to the publishers and editors a few nights ago.
Mr. Johnston is president of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. He is a fine man and a courageous one. He would mean to be truthful but his memory is short. Here is the quotation:
"As a people we Americans do not frighten easily. But I would remind you that in the decade before the war we were fed a heavy diet of fear, fear of personal insecurity, fear of another depression, fear of business, fear even of ourselves. Life became just one damned fear after another. The defeatist and pessimist got us so busy fearing other things we forgot to fear that which really is important, and that is big government."
Mr. Johnston forgets to mention the fear of corruption on a big scale, or inefficiency, or uncontrolled world situations, all of which were factors in putting fear in the hearts of people. These fears arose also in business when it was uncontrolled and unhelped by a big enough government. This big fear engulfed us a little more than a decade ago.
Later in his speech Mr. Johnston says that all democratic governments have to be controlled by the people and that we must fear their apathy above everything else. I do not believe that he really fears big business, big government, big armies or navies, big newspapers. I agree that we should fear apathetic people who do not control government or business, who do not watch the public interest in business, in the press, in government and in international relations.
We must remind ourselves, however, that courage and hope have come to the great mass of people since 1933, and fear, which was in the hearts of nearly all the people has revived only to a limited extent in the hearts of those who fear not the disasters of 1929 and 1930, but the inability to repeat a part of the financial program of the 20s.
War has put fear in all our hearts for those we love who are in fighting zones, but it has intensified our self-confidence because of our pride in our fighting men and their achievements and the knowledge that as we reach each new crisis at home, the people have so far managed to meet it not only adequately, but magnificently.
Stretch your memories! Where once all were afraid, now very few know fear!