SEPTEMBER 8, 1954
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I was interested by a letter I received the other day which quoted what I had written in the column about the value of education for young parents in the training and watching of children. This letter told me that in West Hartford, Connecticut, in the Quaker Meeting House there is held a parent-training seminar conducted by the senior mental hygienist of the Connecticut Commission on Alcoholism, Dr. H. Leon Yager.
The purpose of this seminar is: "To clarify child-parent problems; to understand the needs and behavior of our children and our own attitudes in dealing with them; to develop clearer positive relations with our children; and so help forestall heartaches and trouble for the children, the parents and society." It is held once a week for thirty weeks, but only thirty people are allowed to attend each session. This seems to me to be a step forward which could be of great help in achieving better mental health for our children.
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A gentleman in Chicago sent me his definition of Americanism the other day. I think it rather good, so I pass it along to you. To him, Americanism means: "To be free to think as I please, free to think without fear, free to stand for what I believe is right, free to read the literature I think is right, free to associate with whom I think is right, free to agree to disagree, free to oppose what I believe is wrong, free to choose those who govern our country, free to consider all people in America are equal, free to fight against discriminations in America." That is the end of his creed, but there is a footnote in which he says, "The tyrant Czars of Russia were afraid of an educated people. Therefore, they oppressed their subjects. Hitler and Mussolini destroyed the people who opposed their ideas."
Communist leaders have replaced the Czars where the Soviet Union is concerned, and while they give education it is controlled education. I would add, as a footnote to the creed, that in America we must be constantly watchful to preserve our freedoms, and not be led to follow in the steps of the oppressors.
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Last Thursday evening I went to a preview of a Japanese movie, "Ugetsu," which will have its New York premiere this week. The photography seemed to me quite beautiful. The scenes give you a real feeling of the Japanese country, and the crowded towns and villages. The author has chosen a sixteenth-century subject and woven the reality of the wars between the various princes with certain legends and mystical beliefs. The actors seem to be good, though to a western audience some of them might seem to overact a little. This, I believe, is rather in the tradition of the old Japanese theatre.
There is much horror and considerable realism in dealing with the passions of men and women and their weaknesses and follies, as well as their strengths. In the end, I felt that the author wanted to convey the idea that real love and devotion can see through the weaknesses and faults of the loved one, and rise above even death to meet the need of a supreme love. Whether this film will have here the success it had in Japan is hard to predict. But I hope many people will see it, first because of the beauty of the scenes, and then because it gives an insight into the past history of a people with whom we have been enemies, but with whom we are striving today to be friends.