JULY 16, 1957
HYDE PARK—It is interesting to see that the United States Public Health Service has taken an official position on the much discussed question of cigarette smoking and how it affects lung cancer. Like everything else, this does not seem to be a question of no smoking, but of excessive smoking.
In this nation, we seem to find moderation far more difficult than giving up a thing altogether. To drink a little for the sake of conviviality; to smoke a little for companionship; this somehow seems very difficult for most of us. It is achieved by people in other countries, and I think it is one of the things we ought to try to cultivate.
Even in drinking coffee we manage to indulge to excess. In some ways, coffee is as much an American vice as is liquor—and it can have as bad an effect on the nerves, and can lead to other excesses.
I remember that after World War II the boys who had been in the Navy had acquired the habit of drinking coffee about every half-hour, with the result that their hands shook so badly they could hardly hold anything. A little moderation, and in a few months this had completely passed.
One understood that the strain of war and the excessive hours required of young officers had brought about this living on their nerves, but I think it is a lesson that we Americans, who live very hard, find difficult to learn.
We should make an attempt to do things in moderation, and not to excess.
More and more, we are getting articles in our metropolitan papers dealing with the development occurring in Africa. For a long time, Africa seemed almost like a closed continent. We knew little about it, except that certain European countries held large sections of the continent as colonies, that we had taken some part in starting a free nation called Liberia, and that South Africa was a dominion of the United Kingdom.
But few of us had made any study of the continent and most of us thought little about acquiring knowledge of its people. As far as we knew, they were savages and black, and their past and present civilization was a blank to us.
Now we are beginning to hear more about Africa. Freedom is stirring among its people. There is great potential wealth in the continent, despite a climate that in spots has bred many types of disease. The nations which have colonies there are gradually recognizing the fact that someday these people will be free, and that they must be prepared for this freedom.
We in this country realize that intercourse with Africa must increase and that we all must develop greater knowledge about it. Mr. Stevenson has travelled twice to Africa. One of my sons took an extended trip there. John Gunther's book opened many people's eyes to the importance of the continent. I hope more and more of us will realize that the next steps in the development of our relations with the people there are important ones.
We enjoyed a most delightful rain Saturday. I'm sure every farmer is grateful that nature has saved many crops. It is too bad that rain has to come on Saturday, when so many city people look forward to a holiday, but they can be glad for their neighbor's sake when the rain is falling gently—and perhaps they can even enjoy a quiet day indoors as they think of the food supply that has been saved.