MAY 6, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—The habit of saying grace is all too rarely part of our daily lives, and yet, in the face of starvation all over the world, every one of us in this country should say grace with our whole hearts each time we sit down to our easily acquired and ample meals. A pertinent cartoon by Herblock, illustrating this theme, appeared recently in the Washington Post. The background shows a sea of starving children's faces, and in the foreground sit three somewhat elderly people, completely comfortable, correct, virtuous and conventional-looking. The table before them is groaning with food, and the caption reads: "Shall We Say Grace?"
With the cartoon, sent to me from Washington, was a page out of the Congressional Record, containing an article reprinted by Senator Wagner. Entitled "A Bill of Duties" and written by John Kirkland Clark—a distinguished member of the bar who had published this article in the May 1945 issue of the Bar Bulletin of the New York County Lawyers Association—its thesis is one that I think should be emphasized over and over again. In democracies we are apt to talk a great deal about our "rights," but Mr. Clark points out that every right has a corresponding duty.
I do not agree with all that he says about WPA jobs, because I have traveled too much in this country and seen too many schools, bridges, civic centers, roads and swimming pools built by the WPA not to realize that much good and valuable work was accomplished. I entirely agree, however, with his thesis that all work, of whatever nature, should be done to the limit of the abilities of the man who is performing the job. I do not believe that any man who is not working to the full extent of his ability can really get satisfaction out of his work.
Mr. Clark points out the reasons why the now organized masses are making some of the same mistakes which organized business made in the past. I cannot quote here the whole of this interesting article, but there is one point which service on one of the United Nations commissions makes me want to bring before everyone's eye. Mr. Clark writes: "If we join a union of nations to see to it that peace is maintained throughout the world—to enforce the right to peaceful living of nations—it will be necessary to discharge the duty implicit in the pledge, which is that we must accept a determination made not solely by ourselves as to when measures for the enforcement of peace must be taken—in which we must presumably join."
I think we even have a duty sometimes, when we are citizens of a democracy, to express ourselves in opposition to the policies which may for the moment be the policies of the majority within our own country. For that is the only way that people may be brought to think along new lines, and the majority of today may become the minority of tomorrow. In other words, each individual in a democracy has the duty to live up to the standards which he believes are right. This may sometimes be a disagreeable duty. But when you believe in the right of equality among men, then you must accept the duty of individual thinking and living by your own standards.