JANUARY 3, 1961
NEW YORK—The New Year's holiday reminded us once again of the fact that long weekends are a source of great loss of life on our highways. Since the New Year is the time for good resolutions, I hope a great many people are thinking of the causes of highway accidents.
Some accidents, of course, seem almost inevitable and nobody's fault. A great many, however, are caused by a passion for speed which seems to consume the people of the United States and to be catered to by the automobile makers. Yet is it really necessary to have an automobile that can make tremendous speed in the hands of anyone except perhaps the police? It would be safer for many reasons if we did not have so much power driving us almost unconsciously to greater and greater speed. I was in a car the other day where every now and then there would be a continued "peep, peep, peep" which sounded like the hatching of a great many chicks. On inquiry I found that it was a device to draw attention to the fact that the driver was going beyond the speed limit, and this struck me as a very good idea.
But it is not only our mad desire for speed which is dangerous. We must also have some rules for careless drivers. Those who enjoy weaving in and out of traffic are also a danger, as are those who do not obey highway signals. The latter are often just saved from accidents by other drivers' skilled control rather than by their own. Indeed, I have heard good drivers say that they were often endangered by other people's bad driving and that it was more important to be able to gauge what other people might do, even though you were being extremely careful yourself.
Life is a precious thing, and driving automobiles should not only be a convenience but a pleasure. This cannot be true until we eliminate the tremendous death toll that occurs on our highways thoughout the U.S. not only at the holiday season but all through the year.
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The riots in Belgium continue and the King and Queen have returned to try to find a solution. Because of granting independence to the Congo, Belgium is said to have suffered in its economy; and the Prime Minister, who belongs to the Social Christian party, has advanced a program of austerity to bolster the economy. The Socialist unions, unable to head off the measure in parliament, have staged demonstrations in the streets of all the large cities, and violence seems to be the order of the day.
It is curious how easily violence spreads in the world. Ever since the last war, it seems to me, human beings have turned to violence with greater ease. This is probably because they became accustomed to it, with two wars in such close proximity somewhat dulling our feeling as regards the horrors which violence almost always brings.
In the Congo itself we are struggling today to have order restored and to stop the violence in favor of law and parliamentary rule. People learn slowly, and one is not surprised that it is difficult to achieve an orderly existence in the Congo. But to have this happen in a European country is much more discouraging to those among us who are hoping for the day when we can have a world order of law and do away with violence altogether.
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It was interesting to read the other day of the discovery of a letter written in Greek which was found in the monastery Mar Saba, about 12 miles southeast of Jerusalem. Dr. Morton Smith, Associate Professor of History at Columbia, found the document there while studying ancient manuscripts. This Greek letter ascribes a secret gospel to Mark which narrates a miracle that is not included in the present gospel of Mark. Many of the old documents now being found in Israel are shedding new light on events of the past. These documents may change some of the opinions held about the teachings of Jesus; and more knowledge about the origin and character of the gospels may affect the early history of the Christian church. Hence they are of great interest to all of us and not only a matter for study by the scholars.
Let me wish a happy New Year to all my readers and an increases during this year of the prospects of achieving peace in the world.