JANUARY 1, 1948
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—Dr. Bryn J. Hovde, president of the New School for Social Research, wrote a Christmas editorial in which he said: "Once again it is Christmas. But we reflect with considerable sadness upon the bygone year. For men of good will it has been a time of trial and tribulation. Nature itself has been harsh. Frosts and floods and drought have brought a continent to the verge of starvation. But the deepest cold and the most sterilizing aridity lie in the human spirit."
As the New Year dawns, I hope that the words I have quoted will not be true a year from now.
There has been in the past year complacency in our country about our own well-being. Prices are very high and many people have not been able to buy things they need, but that is our own fault and not the fault of nature. Nature has treated us kindly.
But in Europe it withheld the rain that they needed so badly. Even Switzerland, well off as she is because the war passed her by, is lacking in milk because of the drought which kept the people from growing enough food for the cattle. The rest of Europe is on the verge of despair and trusts to the Marshall Plan, not only for food during the coming year but to build up a responsible self-sufficiency in the future. The mere thought of this should keep us from being too complacent.
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I hope everyone heard or read Secretary of State Marshall's report on his return from the London conference. He told us why the Marshall Plan had to go through. Until Europe is economically on its feet again, there can be no democracy and freedom from want and fear.
I wish our Secretary of State had gone one step further in his report and had made clear to the American people something which I have come to feel with increasing force. There will be no understanding on the part of the Eastern European group of what we mean by civil liberties and freedom until their standard of living comes up to the point where they can afford to think of individuals and not only of people in the mass.
The delegate from the Ukraine at the recent Human Rights Commission meeting said to us: "I heard in America people say there was no such thing as freedom—it was simply freedom to starve." We learned that lesson here during the depression and we know now that a democratic government has a responsibility to see that its people have freedom from fear.
This should be one of the aims that we hold before us in the coming year—to show that our conception of freedom and the rights of free men includes the responsibility of their government to see that no man, woman or child starves and that, as far as we are able, we extend that guarantee to the nations of the world because of the greatness and generosity of our spirit.