OCTOBER 11, 1949
NEW YORK, Monday—In one of the newspaper Sunday magazine sections yesterday there was a little article entitled, "Acts of Happiness," which begins with a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson that is worth remembering. Here it is: "Manners are the happy ways of doing things; each one a stroke of genius or of love, now repeated and hardened into usage."
This is an interesting quotation because during all of our lives most of us have been taught manners. I think most children think of the constant nagging they get as being just one of the peculiarities of their elders. As a matter of fact, manners really are important because they oil the daily contacts of life and keep things running smoothly. If you have good manners, you often can say and do things which you could not possibly get away with if you said or did them without grace.
The key to all good manners really is kindness. If you mean to be kind, your manners will nearly always take care of themselves.
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A visitor from South Africa came up for the day yesterday to Hyde Park and was being shown the memorial library, so I stopped to pick her up after church. We showed her much of the countryside and she was a most appreciative guest, being breathless with pleasure over the color of every tree that had turned a brilliant red or gold.
She said they had occasional trees that were beautiful in the autumn in South Africa, but never this beauty everywhere you looked. She has seen nothing like it in Europe or in any other country and she hoped that it was not going to grow any more beautiful. She said she would hate to leave the country and have to say she did not see the beauty at its height!
I could reassure her that this is one of the most beautiful autumns, as far as color goes, that I have ever seen. It will not last much longer, however, because the leaves are falling quickly in our neighborhood. A day or two of wind and rain and the leaves will be gone and we will have only the memory of another gorgeous autumn.
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In the papers yesterday I could not help noticing that the future seems to hinge on what will happen in Germany. Much of the key to our future lies in the decisions that are being made by our government and the German government in the next few weeks.
What kind of a government do they really want in Germany?
Vaguely most of us know that we hope it won't be a communistic government. We also know, however, that eventually in Europe there must be trade between the East and the West, and Germany knows that, too.
It looks to me today as though it is essential for us to get agreement on the question of how we get along with the Soviet Union and live in the same world amicably. There must be ways of solving this problem, and common sense would lead one to think that it would seem as useful to the Russians to solve it under friendly terms as it would be for the rest of Europe and for us.