JANUARY 1, 1958
NEW YORK—This is New Year's Day when we turn the page and greet the first day of a new year. Traditionally we wish for certain things on this first day, and there are a number of things that I would like the nation as a whole to wish for.
At home, I would like to see us face up to certain basic problems that we have been shying away from but that are nevertheless desperately important to us.
First, what are the important things in life of the average human being in the United States?
We have a big farm population and we have not devised a program satisfactory to our farmers.
There are far more of our people affected by small businesses than by the great industries, important as they are, and our small business people are unhappy in this country at the present time.
We feel insecure about our defense, and that affects all of us, young and old alike.
In these three areas, new thinking is really in order, and I would like the people to feel that they must ask this new thinking from their leaders. To make real changes, we may have to try some new ideas and they may not always be successful, but certainly the old ideas cannot meet the circumstances created by the changing world in which we live.
The international situation also affects young and old alike, and there I think we need a determination not only to do what is necessary for our defense but to have some new ideas on how we can really work for peace.
Hundreds of plans for peace are sent to me. While not one of them seems to me completely practical, there are germs of ideas in all of them.
If we are going to do something drastic about peace, we are going to have to change our attitude toward the peoples of the world. We are going to have to listen to what they say and, because we do listen, build their trust in us.
Visits by foreign dignitaries to the U.S. are fine if we really learn anything through these visits and if these visitors learn something more about us. But I have come to the conclusion that many times on both sides there is more of a desire not to learn than there is to learn.
We are willing to consider a request for aid, but are we willing to patiently explore the causes which make that aid necessary and try to eliminate those causes? We have not been basic enough in our consideration of how to build other nations' confidence in us. The time has come, I think, when it is essential to have this understanding.
I would first ask that all of us think about these questions and wish for ourselves the vision and the strength to be active citizens of a democracy, not to be afraid of new ideas, not to be afraid of other peoples but to trust ourselves and our belief in the value of democracy and the strength of our spiritual values.
We must not try to impose our spiritual beliefs on others, but we must show by example that these beliefs help us to live better with our brothers in the world and that they strengthen us to be on the side of truth and justice.