SEPTEMBER 28, 1945
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I wonder if the tone of the press dispatches, as they describe the peace meetings in England, gives you the same sense of uneasiness that I experience. We have not yet learned to handle other people so that they believe in our goodwill and in our honesty. Naturally, we will advocate what is good for ourselves; but they must know we will also take into consideration what is good for other people, since we know that if they suffer, in the long run we will inevitably suffer, too.
It is a traditional American feeling that we do not have to worry about understanding other people's prejudices and customs, since we can go our own way. With hard work, we expect to get along regardless of what happens to others. It certainly is difficult to change from this attitude to one in which we accept responsibility for studying our neighbors, for trying not to ruffle their feathers, because we know we need friends in the world and not disgruntled neighbors.
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People in this country are generous, and I know that they are more than anxious to help whenever they realize there is suffering anywhere. For example, a woman wrote me a wonderful suggestion which I am going to pass on to the Share the Food committee, because I think it might accomplish much. She says: "Millions here make a small amount of money which covers only our everyday expenses. Naturally we want to help those who have much less, or nothing at all. We millions have nothing left over but one or two dollars after we pay our rent, electric, washing and cleaning bills; but we can spare a few pennies every week. We could give a small quantity—about four ounces—of noodles, spaghetti, dried vegetables, cocoa, coffee or cheese, plus the four pennies to cover the cost of shipment overseas. In 52 weeks, it would amount to something."
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Such a gesture, from millions of people, could not help but give courage to other millions who have gone without so much for so many years. Thus the people make friends. When it comes to dealing on the diplomatic level, however, we become suspicious. We think we must be aloof and not show our natural friendliness because we expect other people to think we are suckers and to take advantage of us.
Long ago, as an individual, I found it was better to be fooled occasionally than always to be suspicious of other people's motives, and I am sure that a great many other people have come to that same conclusion.