DECEMBER 30, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I like very much a sentence in Walter Lippmann's column of December 28, in which he says: "Mr. Roper's figures would, I think, justify the statement that in America the circulation upward in the social order is so free and active that this country is living in a state of slow but permanent revolution."
Nothing more hopeful was ever written. Since the world as a whole lives in hope and always on the hope for the next generation, this is what gives us stability as a nation. A feeling that if you are poor, you and your family are not doomed to be poor forever; that if you are working in a job you do not enjoy, you are not doomed to hold that job forever but may quite probably find one you will like very much better at almost any time; that if you failed to receive or to take advantage of the education you feel essential for success, you still see visions of your children having the opportunities you missed—all of this makes for a restless world, perhaps, but a more stable one. There is a desire for progress in the hearts of all men, and it is the sense of frustration and inability to move forward that brings violent revolution.
In a society such as ours, where changes come about easily, violent revolution is unnecessary. Fortunately for us, our people recognized the need for reform and did not fight it. For that reason, I think, we have more gradual changes and rarely any threat of violence. Even in the days of our deepest depression, the promise Mr. Hoover kept making that around the corner there were "two chickens in every pot and two automobiles in every garage" did not seem so fantastic as to preclude the possibility of believing that it might conceivably happen; and I think that hope stabilized our nation until real help came to the rescue.
There were places where conditions were so bad that, on visiting them, I thought revolution might not be far away, given active leadership. But we escaped it; and I hope we learned our lesson and will never again allow our economy to go into that kind of tailspin. The people now know that it is not a necessity, and they will not be patient with hardships which they feel are the result of stupidity and not the inevitable laws of the universe. When the hand of God intervenes and floods or forest fires or droughts affect the harvests and there actually is not enough food in the land, that is something inevitable which people will endure because they recognize that the remedy does not lie in human hands. However, many economic ills can be remedied, and that they recognize as well; so those who wield power must accept this responsibility in order to keep slow and peaceful revolution constantly at work.