NOVEMBER 5, 1958
NEW YORK—A couple of weeks ago there was a very significant story in the newspapers about the crew of the submarine Seawolf and how they used their leisure time when their ship was submerged for a couple of months and cut off from the rest of the world.
For them, of course, this was a very particular and peculiar situation. But as was pointed out in the article this question of leisure time is one that is going to affect thousands of persons, perhaps our industrial workers more than anyone else, because as automation goes on we are going to produce more machine-made things in less and less time.
If the use of leisure time is confined to looking at TV for a few extra hours every day, we will deteriorate as a people.
I do not know how much thought industrial leaders in this country are giving to this question, but labor leaders are thinking of it seriously. Back of nearly all the educational work of many labor unions lies this problem of awakening the worker to new avenues of interest that will be intellectually stimulating and creatively satisfying.
Already many industrial workers perform one particular bit of a task over and over again and never get the satisfaction of producing something that can be seen growing from start to finish. The old-fashioned craftsman had the joy of creation. The new industrial worker has little or none of that satisfaction, so he must find it elsewhere.
Actually, preparation for the use of leisure time should begin with our school children. The appreciation of many things in which we are not proficient ourselves but which we have learned to enjoy is one of the important things to cultivate in modern education. The arts in every field—music, drama, sculpture, painting—we can learn to appreciate and enjoy. We need not be artists, but we should be able to appreciate the work of artists. Crafts of every kind, the value of things made by hand, by skilled people who love to work with wood or clay or stone will develop taste in our people.
These are all things that can give us joy and many of us will find that we are capable of acquiring a certain amount of skill we never dreamed we had, which will give an outlet to a creative urge. But these things must be taught, and in the age now developing about us they are important things. For if man is to be liberated to enjoy more leisure, he must also be prepared to enjoy this leisure fully and creatively.
For people to have more time to read, to take part in their civic obligations, to know more about how their government functions and who their officials are might mean in a democracy a great improvement in the democratic processes. Let's begin, then, to think how we can prepare old and young for these new opportunities. Let's not wait until they come upon us suddenly and we have a crisis that we will be ill-prepared to meet.