July 26, 1946
Anthropologist Margaret Mead, associate curator and the American Museum of Natural History, spoke at the Vassar Summer Institute for Family and Community Living about accommodation by the emerging American character to the notion of world peace. Admitting the unique importance of America’s engaging in the world peace movement, she said that its success depended on three questions: how Americans adapt to change; how capable they are of conceiving of a new kind of world; under what circumstances would they assume responsibility for such a world.
Her answers were provocative: “Americans accept change as normal, but the live in terms of an ideal state of society, a dream to which they cling tenaciously. Only by including other people’s dreams within ours can we accept them as part of a future world. Americans believe that machines should be taken care of and people should be left alone, left to sink or swim. If we come to think of world organization, world trade, world exchange of ideas as parts of a great complicated machine, then we can take a lot of responsibility for keeping it in good repair and improving it from year to year by getting out new models.” The New York Times