JUNE 6, 1958
HYDE PARK—As a nation, we are not spending enough dollars to protect our lives from diseases that kill and cripple human beings and which we yet do not know how to control.
This is pointed up graphically in a brochure issued by the National Health Education Committee, Inc., dealing with work in medical research. Anyone reading this presentation will understand why we need medical research, and certain facts it contains should awaken even the dullest of us to a realization that we are doing too little in this field.
The main cause of death among Americans in 1956—in fact, the cause of 54 percent of all deaths—was heart and circulatory diseases. Yet the government spent only $27,840,000 on research into these diseases.
At the same time the government spent $600 million on a system to give Canada and the United States warning against possible nuclear attack.
Of course, we want better highways, but considering the number of accidental deaths on roads, I sometimes wonder whether the $1,690,000,000 in Federal money spent on road-building projects is quite as important as research in mental illness, which affects some 16 million Americans to some degree. On this research, the government spent only $18,757,000.
And so it goes all the way through this brochure.
Of course, Federal funds for medical research is supplemented by money from states and localities, but nowhere near as much is spent in this important field as on other less important things.
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I saw a preview the other night of Erich Maria Remarque's "A Time to Love and a Time to Die," done in Cinemascope.
It is some time since we have had a war play as powerful as this one, but we need to be reminded of what the war meant to Germans, of what it did to all human beings directly involved, civilians and soldiers alike.
One of the most touching moments in this movie was the soldier's longed-for furlough and the return to a bombed city with no parents to greet him and no home left.
The soldier's dream had been of a hot bath, a good bed, a supper of the foods he loved, and a mother and father waiting anxiously to greet him. Instead, he dashes through the ruins in a futile search, lives in a hospital barracks, and is saved from utter desolation only by meeting the girl whom he marries before he goes back to die.
It is all tragic, sordid, and makes you wonder how any of us who have ever seen war's reality can ever speak of war as a possibility again.
Perhaps it is good to be reminded of this possibility, though I found it hard to sleep after the reminder and I was glad for the work on my desk to force me to think of other things.
But the question keeps coming back to my mind: can human beings show intelligence enough to save themselves from destruction or must we go the way of other civilizations simply because we have not yet learned how to live together instead of how to die together?