AUGUST 30, 1950
NEW YORK, Tuesday—There was an article in one of our metropolitan papers on Monday that I found extremely interesting. It stated that psychiatrists are finding that a considerable portion of our people are mentally and emotionally upset by the world in which we have to live. As long as these people believed that technically at least, we were not at war, they never examined the realities, but now that our men are actually fighting in Korea, they have suddenly begun to view their whole surroundings with heightened apprehension.
We find perfectly sensible people saying: "I wouldn't think of traveling to Europe (or South America or wherever it may be) we might have war at any time." But these people have never faced the fact that if the United States and the rest of the world becomes involved in a total war, it does not matter very much where one is. The chances of survival will be equally slim everywhere.
A young business man said to me the other day: "I am looking for a place in the country remote enough from any big city so as to avoid the affects of atom bombs should they be dropped." It did not seem at all strange to him that he should be contemplating completely changing his whole way of life to meet a condition which, when it did come, would be completely horrible, but one that had not yet arisen.
In all of this, of course, there is the instinct to run away from reality. The people who run away from reality are usually the people who find themselves trapped when reality catches up with them. They are poor citizens of any country because being unwilling to face reality for themselves, they are unwilling to face it for their government and their country.
They are the people who want business as usual, pleasure as usual, opportunities to make money as usual, taxes as usual, and a nice comfortable little place in the sun for themselves, while the rest of the world can go unaided.
They say with great emphasis and assumption of virtue: "I can not interfere, I am not my brother's keeper. It is absurd for my country to think that it can raise standards for the rest of the world, or that we can fight the cause of justice and freedom throughout the world."
Our ancestors must have been pretty tough people. They lived under the threat of famine, disease, and attack from those who felt that this country belonged to them, and that these strangers were invaders and would do them harm. Somehow they survived all of these dangers, plus the threat of domination from the old world.
Admittedly, they did a number of things that I hope we would not repeat today, but that kind of stability, emotional and mental, made it possible for them to live in a completely uncertain world.
It is a factor that we should study today, to see if, in our modern world, we can recapture that power of stability and courage.