SEPTEMBER 25, 1947
NEW YORK, Wednesday—I read with much regret in one of our newspapers yesterday that the Cabinet had persuaded President Truman to cut down on our shipments of grain abroad and to ask people in this country voluntarily to ration themselves. The latter has to be on a voluntary basis, at least for the present, since Congress alone can pass any new rationing laws—and Congress is still on vacation.
I also received a letter from a gentleman who makes a food out of fish and potatoes, which he says would be cheap to export and would keep people alive just as well as our exports of grain! He remarks that much of our fish catch goes to waste, and if it were processed in the way he suggests we would be making a really good thing of it and it would be cheap food for those in need abroad.
Somehow, his letter and the way the story was told of the Cabinet decision make me feel that this whole question of feeding the hungry is on too commercial a basis.
I know quite well that, in all probability, we cannot feed all hungry people throughout the world, no matter what we do as a single nation, but I also know that we haven't made any real effort to do the best we can and to lead the other nations to cooperate with us.
There was a time when we would have been horrified to hear of suffering in one small area. Now we contemplate it quite comfortably in the greater part of the world. War makes people callous. We have given a great deal and we are conscious of it, but every visitor who comes to this country from foreign shores is appalled not by our prices but by the amount of "things" which are available to all of us.
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Among other appointments yesterday, I saw a French woman, Miss Adi Bernard, who is going to give her first recital in Carnegie Hall on October 6. She was a pupil of Jose Iturbi and has played in many parts of Europe in solo concerts and with various symphony orchestras. She was active in her country's resistance movement and is only now resuming her musical career. The first thing she said to me was: "The United States is Heaven. Your people do not appreciate what they have."
That is the impression of almost everyone who comes here from other lands, so we should not wonder when we find hostility and even bitterness against us.
How will the next generation, now growing up in the needy areas of the world, feel about us? There are empty stomachs and unfulfilled desires in so many places that, it seems to me, the resentment will react on us in very tangible ways.