DECEMBER 20, 1950
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—There is an old custom that I think a great many of us have forgotten and I don't know where it came from, but I think this is a Christmas that it would be well to take it up again.
"Touch hands, touch hands...
Strong hands to weak, old hands
to young, around the Christmas
board, touch hands."
Young and old gather around the Christmas board. Little children, because they have little understanding, cannot suffer in anticipation, but they are weak and strong hands give them confidence. Age alone does not give strength. The hands of the young in their prime may be the hands of strength, but they may also need strength very badly. Old hands may be weak and yet they, because of experience in old battles fought and won, may be stronger than the young untried.
Around the board this Christmastime there should be that joining of hands in every family and among all friends. We are going to need that pledge to each other of sustaining love and understanding from which springs strength to meet the problems that lie before us.
Listening to the radio and reading the news is a sorry business these days. I saw a cartoon in a Washington newspaper in which Secretary Acheson was pictured leaving for Europe with his hands tied behind his back. That is just about what the Republican Senators have done to the Secretary of State. Only his own poise and the confidence expressed in him by the President and the Secretary of Defense Marshall will carry him through at Brussels and give our point of view any weight with the people of Western Europe.
Some of us feel, as we live through these days, that in a curious, haunting way we know each step of the way. We have lived it before—not only once but perhaps twice if we are old enough to remember the prewar years of World War I as well as World War II. All of us feel that the collective intelligence of mankind should be able to save the world from suicide, and yet nothing seems to indicate that such is the case. We follow the path of the years gone by and we feel a little of the inevitableness of the Greek tragedy.
At this Christmastime I think the one thing we can read aloud that will say something to us all, at least to those of us who are Christians, is the story of the Nativity and the coming of the Christ child to bring peace on earth, goodwill to men.