SEPTEMBER 20, 1951
NEW YORK, Wednesday—The 100th anniversary of The New York Times, marked on last Thursday, led many of us to a review of the changes that have come about during the past century.
I was glad they reprinted the front page of the very first issue with its emphasis on foreign news, all of which had occurred at least two or three weeks before the printing here. This, of course, was acceptable 100 years ago, yet the other day there were complaints heard when news of the accident aboard our aircraft carrier, Essex, was released. The delay in giving out that news was less than 24 hours, and once it was issued it reached this country in a matter of minutes.
I often think of the changes just in my own environment which I have seen in my more than 60 years. But the few added years covered by The New York Times accentuate all those changes.
I am sure people were harassed by the heat and cold and work and hunger just as much in those days as they are today. But perhaps they were tougher, because they certainly had to work harder to feed themselves, to keep warm and to keep cool.
And there were inequalities among the people in those days. Without any question we had not yet developed our system of justice to the point that we have succeeded in reaching today.
As you look back, then, I think you will agree that the material changes have been great, but also that we have grown in social conceptions and in appreciation of the rights of human beings and our obligation to guard them. In those days the fight was against individual power and the power of government officials.
It would be wise to examine where we are today in the light of the progress made and to note any retrogressions that may have occurred or are occurring at the present time.
On Monday night we went to see a really beautiful Technicolor film called, "The River." Jean Renoir and Rumer Godden have done a most artistic and beautiful production.
The scene is laid in Bengal and the river is the Ganges. This area of India always has been a restless one. It is today the place, outside the Soviet Union, where probably the greatest Communist strength exists. It was the area where the greatest agitation for free India was always brewing.
Along with this spirit of restlessness and revolt, there goes great artistic and intellectual distinction. A man well known to all Americans, Babinranath Tagore, was born there, and many other poets and philosophers came from Bengal.
The colors in the picture are really beautiful, and though I have never been to India it seems to me that the light was particularly clear. The rhythmic background of music was excellent.
As far as the story goes, of course, it is laid in the background of Indian tradition and religion, but the human emotions of the people, whether Indians or Britishers or any other nationality, are about the same. Perhaps the real message of this feast for eye and ear on the human side is that we remember that the basic qualities of all people seem the same.