MAY 8, 1961
HYDE PARKSunday—Commander Alan Shepard's flight into space was exciting news. For us this is the beginning of more and more experiments until the day comes when we will know whether there is human life on the stars and what it is like, if so.
I must say, however, that this seems to me some time off. I am still more concerned with what happens to us here on earth and what we make of our life here than I am about these remarkable experiments. I know they have great value, and undoubtedly important discoveries arising from these experiments will help us here on earth. But I hope we are particularly careful not to send our man into orbit as the Russians did until we are sure that the return has been safeguarded as far as is humanly possible. The difference between our system and that of the Russians is a regard for human life, and I do not want to see us lose any of this regard.
We must congratulate astronaut Shepard—and, incidentally, his wife—for the courage and endurance in the training period leading up to this triumph. Let us hope that all those who carry forward these extraordinary achievements will come home as successfully to receive a grateful nation's acclaim.
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It is good to hear that true talks have begun in Laos. Despite tension and disagreements in the early discussions, it seems we may hope for an armistice and perhaps adjustment of the difficulties. I have great sympathy with the desire of all Asians to carry on their own affairs in peace. Nations so far away from us—as are some of those in Asia and in Africa—should be encouraged to build their own defenses, to look to the U.N. for protection and assistance, and to the United States, as far as possible, only for technical assistance in economics and in civil and social ways.
I hope that out of Vice President Johnson's trip will come recommendations to cut down on the military aid we give nations all around the globe. I know it is convenient to pass on to these nations military material which we no longer need; it is a little outdated for us, but a great advance for them. Nevertheless, I have always questioned whether in a matter of self defense nations were not better off to set up and pay for their own defense, getting aid from outside along other lines. It makes countries less suspicious of big nations who have to be called on to give the military aid, and I think makes people themselves more conscious of that for which they are willing to fight.
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I am very interested to see that the Administration is asking for money to re-train people who have been out of jobs for long periods. This is the first intimation I have seen of the Administration's realization that automation is the cause of their idleness, and that therefore we must train people to do something different from what they have done in the past. The step that should precede the re-training, I believe, is the recognition that planning is one of the things we must accept with automation. In the past we could say that new discoveries as they came along would in time create new opportunities for employment, and the time lag was not so far behind but that one could wait for the adjustments. Now new inventions come so quickly and affect such great numbers of people simultaneously that one cannot expect the time lag to adjust without some planning at the top. To meet this problem, I believe, much greater cooperation is needed between business, labor and government than we have ever had before.