JANUARY 7, 1959
NEW YORK—The exciting news over the past weekend was the Russian moon rocket, now claimed to be approaching the point where it will go into orbit around the sun.
The Russians have a gift for propagandizing well whatever they do, and they are already talking about a future lunar expedition. Just what would be discovered by this venture I am too ignorant to really understand, but I hope it serves the good of humanity and is not looked upon entirely as something that may or may not be of military value.
Cuba has a new President, Dr. Manuel Urrutia Lleo, and we will now see whether he will bring back law and order to the country. We'll also see if some of the reforms, which the people really need, will be started. But we cannot tell about these things for sometime to come.
Last Friday night I saw "J. B.," the play written by Archibald MacLeish. It certainly has a tremendous impact and it is very well acted, but I don't know that I like "God" upon the stage.
I kept thinking that I would rather read this play than actually see it acted, and yet I realized that it had a tremendous effect which perhaps one would not experience quite in the same way in reading it.
The cry for justice, the effort at understanding one's individual failures, the acceptance of merging one's own personality in that of the world—each thought, it seemed to me, required long thinking through by itself.
I came away with a great admiration for what Mr. MacLeish had done but with a feeling that my share of what he wished to accomplish was very far from being really understood by me, or thought through by me as yet.
A correspondent from the Middle West writes to me suggesting that it would help democracy in this country if we saw to it that every organization—and I take it that he means every membership organization—actually voted on all the policies of the organization.
He seems to object to the idea that many organizations before stating what they think is the consensus of opinion of the majority of their members do not actually poll them. In this regard, he feels, they fail to use their organizations as means for emphasizing the need of practicing democracy. And through practicing democracy in every phase of our lives he feels we would learn more about it and use it to become better citizens of our country.
While we have a representative republic we pride ourselves on being a democracy in which the individual accepts responsibility for his government through the choice of representatives. My correspondent is a little confused, I think, between organizations and religious groups.
I doubt if any civic or political organization functions as do the Quakers, for instance, and carries its religious methods into their activities in the way that this religious body does.
He contends that such groups are paternalistic and anti-democratic. I cannot quite see that point, but I can see that we do not always use our various membership organizations to improve our understanding and habit of participation and responsibility as democratic citizens. And this, I think, is an idea that we should bear in mind.
I pass it on to you as food for thought.