JANUARY 23, 1957
SPOKANE, Wash.—I saw a preview in New York City, before my trip out here, of Walt Disney's new film, "Our Friendly Atom," which will be shown on ABC television tonight (January 23) from 7:30 to 8:30 o'clock (EST).
The film starts out by tying up the atom with the fable from "The Arabian Nights," the fisherman and the genie.
Man of today is the fisherman of the fable and, like the fisherman, if he acts wisely he will derive great benefits from his discovery. The picture deals fascinatingly with the history of the atom's discovery, the scientists of the past who contributed to our knowledge of today and, finally, after explaining what this new energy really is, the ways in which it may improve our civilization.
We all know of the atom's powers of destruction, but we do not stop to think that the energy derived from it may someday drive our ships and airplanes and run power stations for production of electricity for our homes and factories.
We do not realize that there are beneficial rays that can help us produce more food for our ever-growing population and that atomic medicine can be of great benefit to suffering mankind. Finally, the atom can help us bring peace to the world, if we use it wisely.
Dr. Heinz Haber, the scientist who helped produce the picture, also has written a book which Simon and Schuster has published, entitled "The Walt Disney Story of Our Friend, the Atom."
I could not help thinking of the changes the atom might bring about as I read a letter which came to me the other day. It said:
"My husband and I have three children, ages four, three and one. We came to Illinois because of work. Our home is in Mississippi. We have a small farm back in the South and, because we couldn't make ends meet farming, we sold our cows, hogs and chickens and came North, as so many of the people of the South are doing every day and have been doing for some time.
"To get to the point, I wanted to discuss with you the shape the South is in. There are about as many needy people of the South who are going hungry and without decent clothes because they can't get enough money out of their crops, chiefly cotton.
"These people work hard in the fields and practically give it to the government. I believe in paying taxes, but the thing is, the President is sending more and more money to other countries whom we know need help, especially the Hungarians. But why not start at home with the handouts? We're the ones with bent backs and have sweated for these dollars.
"You might say that our people have welfare which can take care of the poor ones. But who can take care of a child on $5 a month?
"I could write a book on this subject of the South, but this one thing I would like to be brought out where the people of these states could reckon with it."
She is quite right. This question of poverty in the South and the inadequate welfare given by states in the South is one which the people in this country ought to know about.
What we do about it, however, is no excuse for doing less in foreign aid. We can well afford to wipe out poverty in every corner of our own country and at the same time help the needy people of the world.