JANUARY 4, 1950
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I wonder how many people noticed an idea put forward by Irving Pflaum, foreign editor of the Chicago Sun Times? The idea came to him after reading a column written by Thomas L. Stokes, well-known Washington columnist, describing the "almost morbid interest in a possible war." Mr. Stokes wrote that this feeling seemed to exist particularly strongly in Washington, and he felt there was too much emphasis on war and that we needed a change of atmosphere.
Mr. Pflaum quotes two sayings to be found in Matthew in the New Testament:
"Blessed are the peace makers..."
"But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you."
Those two verses should go together, but it is the second one that is the hard one to live up to. There have been people the world over trying to live up to that verse for many years. The Quakers, it seems to me have come nearer actually to living it than any other group, but in every religious denomination there are people who try to live it.
Mr. Pflaum suggests that we remember what the Statue of Liberty, given us by the French people years ago, has meant to us. That statue has presided over the great port of the City of New York. It has greeted newcomers and has given them hope that this was the land of freedom and opportunity for the oppressed. Returning American citizens always look for it and get a thrill of pride in the country which is theirs and which is typified by the thought in the mind of the great sculptor who made the great statue.
The new suggestion is that instead of worrying so much about a possible war between us and the Russians we suggest to the people of this country that they donate their pennies and nickels and dimes and commission some great sculptor to do a monument to peace and brotherhood and send it from the people of the United States to the people of the U.S.S.R.
Mr. Pflaum says there would be no need of entangling our government in any negotiations. He realizes there is a chance that the Soviet government might refuse to admit the statue or to erect it in Moscow or elsewhere. But he feels that a gift from one people to another people who fought together for freedom in the last war might be a difficult thing for any government to refuse. Once erected in the U.S.S.R., however, it would be a symbol from the people of this country and it might make it easier for the high officials representing both the U.S. and the Soviet Union to grow in confidence, to throw off some of the present suspicion, and to come to some agreements on controversial subjects.
It is fear of each other that makes us do so many so-called aggressive things. To show that we are not afraid we both boast of our might and of our power. We hold weapons and the threat of new inventions somewhere close at hand.
Would the gesture of such a gift as Mr. Pflaum suggests remove some of our mutual fear?