FEBRUARY 21, 1946
NEW YORK, Wednesday—During my brief visit in Ireland with my aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. David Gray, I noticed that the countryside around Dublin looked green and prosperous. The people of the Irish Free State have not suffered as the British and the other people of Europe have suffered.
They publish with pride their food exports to Great Britain. On the other hand, hard-pressed Britain has not denied them the things which they could not have had unless Britain got along with less. For instance, we and the British have seen to it that they had sufficient coal to keep their utilities going. And the Irish Free State has not been short of butter and eggs, yet in Great Britain the ration of butter is infinitesimal and you are lucky if you can buy an egg every other week.
We in the United States are also in a fortunate position. In the whole of our North and South American continents, we have been spared the ravages of war on our own soil. For this reason, I think we have a great responsibility. We should give moral and spiritual leadership as well as material aid to those nations which have such great difficulties to overcome. Our courage for the future should inspire their hope and confidence.
Material aid to these nations is also important, but we must not take away their self-respect by putting them in our debt to such an extent that they might never feel free again. This most certainly would lead to hatred of us and the old cry of "Uncle Shylock." In addition, we might soon find that even the resources of North and South America could be drained by unwise use and leave the whole world less well off. The material situation of the world requires that great judgment be exercised, and it is here that some of our elder statesmen and financial and industrial genius might well be used.
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After my visit to the Continent, I think I realized for the first time what made our ancestors say grace before meals. That habit must have come from a situation in which the things which most of us take for granted today were really matters for thanksgiving. In pioneer days, you were conscious of your dependence on the Lord in a way which modern life has made a little more difficult for us to grasp. The whole of Europe must pioneer again or die.
I hope I will never take for granted a roof over my head, warmth in my home, and food enough for satisfaction. I wish we could revive an old custom which I remember from childhood days in my grandmother's home—the custom of the youngest child in the family always saying grace.
Certainly, in this country, we should say grace in our hearts every day of our lives. And everything we do should be considered not only from the narrow point of view of how it will affect us, but also how it will affect the people of the world. Unless we take this point of view, what happens to us today or tomorrow will be of little real importance, because someday we will feel the impact of what is happening to the rest of the world. We cannot be an island of prosperity in the midst of a world of misery.