FEBRUARY 8, 1951
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—Monday night while in New York City I went to see Claude Rains in "Darkness at Noon." I rarely have been to a play that gripped harder. Sidney Kingsley has done a wonderful piece of dramatic work in the adaptation of Arthur Koestler's novel.
It is not a pleasant play to sit through and yet you are tensely attentive every minute. You never want to hear the phrase, "The end justifies the means" again, nor listen to the hollow excuses that the "work" must go on regardless of the suffering of a few individuals or groups here and there. Mr. Rains's acting is superb; in fact, the whole cast is very good.
The atmosphere of terror that exists in the prison, in the office, in the girl's home, seems unreal—and yet you know how very real it is. You wonder at the cruelty that you see growing in the people who practice it. Then you remember Ilsa Koch, for instance, and realize that people either become callous or they go mad, and that callousness is part of the instinct of self-preservation that is so deeply ingrained in all of us.
This play should make many of us Americans more aware of the need for preserving our liberties and not giving up any one of them in the hope of being saved from communism. Our only defense against communism is to keep our freedoms.
The other day I received a pamphlet written by Stringfellow Barr, the first part of which I think is well worth reading. It points out so clearly one of the truths we are apt to forget, namely, that even if we were obliged to fight a war with Russia and win that war, the real basic problem of our times would not have been settled. That problem is a problem of hungry people in the world—the many "have-nots" as opposed to the "haves."
Mr. Barr shows clearly that though military strength is a necessity to keep the peace, it will do us little good unless we use the peace to give the people everywhere the hope of a better life. The last part of the pamphlet, in which a plea is made for world government, seems to me very weak and open to much criticism.
Just to take one thing, Mr. Barr contends that we must put much more money into the development of the underdeveloped areas of the world. He wants this money to be directly available to the United Nations and not in gifts or grants from governments, but a direct contribution from the people through the buying of bonds. Voluntary contributions by governments are difficult enough to obtain, but when you set out to sell bonds to people you face a difficult problem. You might sell a few to those with a keen international sense, and I am quite sure our nation would be a big contributor but at the same time proving less generous than she is at present.