JUNE 29, 1948
HYDE PARK, Monday—After writing a column on Sydenham Hospital in New York City, I received a letter from Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie. I was told that I might consider the cooperative plan of Sydenham an experiment, but they have proved right in my own hometown that Negro doctors and nurses can work with a predominantly white staff. They also have Negro workers in various capacities throughout the hospital without discrimination.
It is interesting how often one hears more about successful results of this kind in the larger cities, but it is especially gratifying to find that they are not even considered experiments but are accepted as successful operating conditions by a hospital in a town the size of Poughkeepsie.
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There is a growing feeling among many people that we, of the democracies, need to define or put into words our beliefs.
I have a letter from I. D. Willis of Toronto, Canada, stating that the Communists and Socialists and followers of other isms rally to certain ideals, but that many people seem to think that democracy's ideals have fallen to the level of only preaching commercialism. He adds, quite rightly I believe, that it is essential that we know what we are fighting for, since "if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle?"
Of course, I think it is only fair to say that there must be an economic side to any theories by which people live today. It has been fairly well proved that man must have his stomach full and have a sense of material security, or his mind and spirit will remain concerned with material things and his attention will be diverted from the civil liberties and the spiritual thoughts by which we feel that man must live.
Mr. Willis is not the only one of whom I know who wishes to express in words his democratic belief. But I like his manifesto and, particularly, his motto. His motto reads: "For a better Canada—we must each do our part."
He divides his manifesto into three parts:
(1) Democracy is belief in the supreme importance of people as individuals.
(2) Democracy functions through Government by representatives of the people, freely chosen and elected by them to express their opinions, and charged with the responsibility of advancing the welfare of the people.
(3) Democracy results from the development of social, economic and political systems, which will assure to the people, as individuals, opportunities to obtain those things necessary for happiness and for mental and physical health; and will also assure adequate provision for those who are unable to avail themselves for these opportunities."
This is a rough digest of the manifesto as a whole. It applies as well to us in the United States, for in it there is food for thought and that emphasizes what to me is all important—the responsibility of the individual.