NOVEMBER 3, 1961
HYDE PARK—I have always had a great respect for the American Friends Service Committee, and I have now received from them a suggestion which I am going to follow. They ask me to sign a statement which reads as follows:
"A Declaration of Conscience and Responsibility
"I oppose the present drift toward war. I want to Turn Toward Peace. The United States should set its own course in foreign relations and not merely react to the threats or promises of the Soviet Union. The best defense against communism is the strengthening of our commitment to freedom and democracy through measures consistent with these ideals. Freedom and democracy could not survive nuclear war, but they can flourish in peace. Accordingly, I believe we must Turn Toward Peace. We must support the President in his appeal for total and complete disarmament. We must strengthen the United Nations. We must develop world law. We must establish constructive non-military solutions for international conflict. The United States can take initiatives for peace."
Signers will be asked: (1) to write a letter to the President, expressing their own views in their own way about the need for a Turn Toward Peace; (2) to take an active part in the Turn Toward Peace program; (3) to encourage churches, luncheon clubs, local unions and other community groups to cooperate with Turn Toward Peace; and (4) to make a contribution to Turn Toward Peace.
In the course of the past few days, also, I have been deluged with requests to join a women's "strike for peace" movement. And I was asked even—though I have no right to do so—if I would speak in the United Nations about this activity and appeal to the women of the neutral nations to join with us. This I will not do, because I do not approve of this kind of action. It seems meaningless and ineffective to me.
But a declaration such as the one put forth by the American Friends Service Committee, joined in by men and women, makes sense to me.
It is obvious, I think, that if either the Soviets or ourselves use one nuclear bomb, which can destroy anything on either side, it will mean the end of our civilization. For at once the whole nuclear force would be used on both sides.
We see the pressure put on our officials now to resume tests in the atmosphere. I suppose all governments, including the Soviets who are doing this, justify themselves by saying that scientists differ among themselves and there is no real proof yet as to what harm will be done to the human race. And so both sides are willing to go on, each afraid that the other will gain a little more information as to how to kill. And every day that this goes on, the danger of an accident which would plunge us into nuclear war becomes more probable and possible.
It is a senseless merry-go-round. We are not children. We are supposed to be mature people. We have gained knowledge which can be enormously valuable to the human race but which can also destroy us, but we do not seem to have grown up sufficiently to use it for good purposes instead of bad.
If we are going to negotiate about any of the problems before our government today, we must begin to tell the people what are the realities of the world situation. We cannot negotiate without regard to the past as well as the present, and we must have a policy that is an American policy first and foremost.
So, I will sign the American Friends Service Committee statement, and I hope many others will join me.
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Somehow I fear the theatre-going public in New York is reluctant to see anything that represents the good side of our life. I say this because I have been informed by Quartette Productions that its off-Broadway play, "The Sap of Life," may not be able to continue its run beyond Saturday.
This musical comedy shows that there are certain values and virtues in the American tradition which should not only be recognized but are worthy of theatrical presentation—family, tradition, the need to question, the right to fail, the ability to see both good and evil and live with both. Yet, the general public has failed to respond to this meaningful presentation and it may have to close its doors.
We are familiar, for instance, with many aspects of juvenile delinquency and perhaps too many feel that the majority of our young people are involved. This is not true. There is far more healthy, positive living going on among young and old and this is what "The Sap of Life" tries to show. The play did receive excellent notices and I hope the public will patronize it, for the theatre is one of the avenues we have for education as well as for entertainment.