MAY 27, 1946
NEW YORK, Sunday—The railroad strike has ended, but I feel sure that this experience will lead to new methods for dealing with labor troubles when they arise in public utilities. The old right to strike does not hold good when your job is one that affects the people of the world and the great mass of people in your own country.
I still think that the public has some blame to bear, because as a rule it is so oblivious of anything which is wrong for certain groups of people and accomplishes no reforms until something drastic happens. This time, the results of the strike were so drastic that I think it will lead to the establishment of machinery which will force the taking up of any complaints immediately on their being made. The body of men who decide on their validity and on the manner in which they should be handled would have to be beyond reproach, since they will have to act as the public conscience.
Dictators of all varieties must chuckle these days, for certainly the great self-governing democracy is not functioning very smoothly!
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On Friday I read a first novel, "Williwaw," by Gore Vidal. This is a curious title; but in the Aleutians, apparently, it means a good strong wind which creates stormy weather—and the novel is a story of stormy weather. It is well-told, and the picture of the men and the events is vividly engrossing. This young author, I think, has promise of doing interesting work in the future.
I had time, also, to glance through Don Calhoun's rather satirical, very funny and, in spots, quite serious drawings and text in "The Little President." The author's theme is that we become so complicated, as we grow older, that we miss out on holding to the big ideas which we should really keep before us. We get sidetracked from doing the big things because the little things swamp us. I wish it could be quite as simple as he makes it out. Nevertheless, there is something to be said for the ability to analyze clearly enough to keep the main objectives before us and refuse to be side-tracked when side-tracking does no good.
You may wonder how I happened to have all this time to read on Friday. I should really have been on my way to West Virginia to make a commencement address on Saturday afternoon at the West Virginia State College. But there seems to be a jinx on my getting to this particular school. I tried to go last year and the year before, and each time it was impossible. Now, when I was all set, the railroad strike again made it impossible! If this is three times, perhaps the bad luck is off and next time I will actually get there!