DECEMBER 25, 1961
HYDE PARK—Many of us observe this Christmas with mixed feelings born from the knowledge that we are living in times so perilous that we cannot quite believe it to be true. For this reason, the religious side of Christmas is probably receiving more emphasis than usual.
The prayers of the American people today must be for deliverance from another year of great anxiety and an opportunity to find ways for making this a peaceful world. And while children are joyous upon having been visited by Santa Claus and his reindeer, the older people must be more inclined to think how much more important is the issue of survival.
What are the things they can really be sure of? Surely material gifts will not bring about the kind of world we desire.
Our material wealth has been great and we have shared it with peoples all around the globe, but perhaps we have not learned to understand other peoples at the same time and to work with them toward achievements that seem important to them.
One form of sharing upon which we might improve is cooperation in scientific investigation, particularly in outer space. Perhaps the gain there is not immediate, but this is an area in which man's curiosity will prod him into reaching for information that lies hidden on other planets and from which all of mankind should benefit.
I don't suppose we should expect to cooperate in the areas of science where military gains are being made, but cooperation could bring about great results in the field of health. If all of the knowledge being uncovered throughout the world to the benefit of man's health were put into one pool, we could probably find the cure to many dread diseases and be prepared to combat new ones that seem to appear as soon as we have conquered the others.
This field of research could use far more money than private gifts and government agencies are putting into it, of course, but this probably will be true so long as so much of our money goes into military preparedness—an apparently essential expenditure to keep the balance of power in the world.
One of the prayers of people everywhere today probably will be to bring the spirit of Christmas into the difficult task of achieving disarmament.
I think one of the basic difficulties in attaining this goal is the failure to reach a common trust between men who on the one hand believe in a spiritual power greater than human power and men who on the other hand believe that only human power exists.
If there is no belief in spiritual things, the motivation for good must come from a very high ethical standard. And this standard is seldom achieved by the average human being who recognizes no spiritual force in the world beyond his own capacity to completely understand.
It is difficult to say "Merry Christmas" this year with true meaning, but we can hope the spiritual influences will become stronger in the coming year. This will be the prayer of everyone in the religious countries of the world, and it will be combined with the hope that the spirit of this day will guide us to greater understanding in the coming months and bring a happier New Year for all the world.