JULY 30, 1958
HYDE PARK—I am a little distressed by a trend I've noticed in all comments on the summit conference, the Near East situation or, in fact, in any case in which the Soviets and the United States happen to have interests.
We always seem to feel that they have an advantage over us. For instance, we suggest they will use the summit conference for propaganda purposes. Are we planning to be silent? And are we not thinking about the effect of what we say upon the world?
I would think that both countries would be planning their proposals and their words with great care as regards the effect they would have on the world, and I do not see why of necessity the Soviets have to do it better than we do.
The second thing we do is to compare whatever is done in this country only with the Soviet Union. Why can't we look at ourselves and compare what we do with our concept of the goal to be achieved? Why do we always have to say the Soviets are doing something and we are not doing it as well?
For instance, the most important educational goal in the Soviet Union has been to train as quickly as possible a sufficient number of men in certain categories. Ours has been different from the beginning.
Our forefathers, in launching their new ideals of government, stated that they would strive to give the people of this country universal and equal opportunity for education, because our type of government (a representative republic) required an educated citizenry. A dictatorship, such as the government of the Soviet Union, does not have this concept.
Therefore, we cannot compare the two systems of education, but we can certainly examine our own and see where we are falling short. This does not mean that, as we study different methods of education in the world, we will not find things that can be used profitably in our own concept to achieve our own ends. And it would be folly not to profit by anything new that we thought could be useful. But the change would be superficial, not fundamental.
I went to Vassar last Saturday for my annual talk to the Euthenics Institute. This experiment, in which families come together to study, bringing the children, is a unique gathering.
I always spend a few minutes with the children and find that they ask surprisingly intelligent questions. Their elders also prefer a short speech and a long question and answer period, and I enjoy that, for they come from all over the United States and sometimes from all over the world.
This gives me an opportunity to sound out their interests and anxieties, and it seems as though anxieties are prevalent among them just now.
I was sorry to learn of the death of Lieutenant General Claire Chennault. To me, 67 is no longer old, and, therefore, although he has had a long and glamorous career and an interesting life, I regret that it could not go on. I send his family my deep sympathy.