NOVEMBER 3, 1947
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Here is a paragraph from a letter which came to me recently: "I am writing to you in regards to a vital question in everyone's life today. I would appreciate any information that you have written, or any information you possess, on the cause of the present-day 'war hysteria'."
The writer says she is a veteran and a senior at a university, majoring in psychology. So I can only recommend that she read the newspapers, listen to the commentators on the radio, and decide for herself what are the forces today that are creating fear in the hearts of men and thereby building this war hysteria. If it goes on to its ultimate conclusions, it will bring us face to face with a World War III and the possible destruction of our civilization.
The people of this country and probably of every other country in the world are gripped by fear—fear of annihilation, fear of invasion by more powerful neighbors, fear of hunger, fear of assuming again the responsibilities of their daily life.
This last fear is prevalent among many men who have been in the services. During the war they risked their lives day by day, but they did it under orders from other people. The qualities of initiative and acceptance of personal responsibility are not developed by military service, so they find the readjustment to family life and personal responsibility a very difficult period. For them, fear of themselves as well as of outside circumstances is often prevalent.
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The constant disagreement among the leaders of nations, which is faithfully reported in our papers with rarely a line given to any points of agreement, adds to a state of uncertainty among the people as a whole. This is one of the reasons why many people think that allowing free and open discussion and the public to be spectators at the United Nations hearings is a great mistake, for the people are kept constantly aware of any threats that may develop on the horizon between nations.
Russia speaks very often of her willingness to collaborate for peace. But her constant insistence on disagreement, on issues both large and small, leads one to believe that she is not so averse to delays and stalemates brought about by her policies, both in the Council of Foreign Ministers and in the United Nations.
Just what she thinks she is going to gain eventually, I do not know. But she is convinced that, at least for the time being, the vast majority of the people of the United States agree with her thesis, and that the rest of us have no understanding of the psychology of our own people. This always seems to me a quaint idea, but only time will tell whether the leaders of the United States or the leaders of the Soviet Union understand the American people.
All these are contributing factors to "war hysteria," and our native common sense must come to our rescue.