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The first paragraph of this talk seems to allude to the hearings of the McCarthy era.  The final sentence alludes to the April 1951 farewell speech of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.  The talk must have been given no later than 1952, when my family left Cambridge.

While waiting to give the talk, my father crossed out the first sentence of the final paragraph and added the following in pencil:

"Toastmasters.  A lot of turmoil, accusations, etc., are on the spur of the moment.  A good example has been demonstrated here tonight in our Table Topic.  I venture to say, had the Table Topic been presented to the same people immediately after the incident, their feeling would have been more bitter."

But apparently the Topic (whatever it was) had been presented to them later, after they'd had a chance to cool down. 

Sometimes we feel as though we're having a bad dream.  Living in the center of a tremendous and wonderful land, we see fingers pointed accusingly in all directions at each other.  We hear resounding accusations made by — and at — investigating committees, ambassadors, editors, doctors, teachers, soldiers, milkmen, and nearly "all the men in the street."  Like a machine gun, these verbal barrages against moral ethics, religious beliefs, and government operations reverberate on our ears and eyes with such a terrific force that we become suddenly awakened, and we're frightened.

But really there is no need to be.  For we have always had such bickering and open accusations, and the right to openly speak our piece is one of the things we cherish most.  It is through a thorough airing of facts that we make up our minds what is right.  One writer from Canada described the difference between communism and capitalism as "the difference between making up your own mind or having someone make it up for you."

We in the United States are the fortunates of the world.  But does it ever occur to us to inquire whether we deserve the bounty we have?  With all our plenty, why all the strikes and investigations by which malice and hatred are engendered between classes?

With our material advantages and industrial progress, we could be — as we hold ourselves out to be — a beacon light to the entire world.  But people of other lands might logically inquire, "If Americans cannot get along among themselves, why imitate them?"

Which reminds me of a story about a real true American.  There was an Indian guide presented with a good watch as a token for his long and faithful service.  One day the watch stopped running, and the Indian took it apart and found a dead bug in it.  He promptly threw the watch over his shoulder and out the window.  His companion asked why.  He replied "Ugh, engineer, he dead."

This is one true American that I am sure no one wants to imitate.

Then there is the story about two youngsters who had been fighting.  The mother of one said, "Willie, why did Johnny fight with you?"  Willy replied, "Oh, I just said something mean about the Pope."  The mother replied, "Why, Willie, you shouldn't say anything about anyone's religion.  Didn't you know Johnny was a Catholic?"  Willie said, "Yes, but I didn't know the Pope was."

But all our mistakes in this "Land of Ours" are not as innocent as the Indian chief throwing away a perfectly good watch or Willie and Johnny fighting.

A greater willingness to accept the precept given to civilization should tend to eliminate greed, distrust, and selfishness, and to encourage the probing of honest differences of opinion without bitterness.  It requires only a second thought before speaking or acting to consider the effect on others.  Gradually this procedure would have a wholesome and refreshing effect on all concerned.  And our differences would be like an old soldier, "They would just fade away."


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