The war reveals the parasite, the non-essential man self-confessed. He who does not produce is regarded, with suddenly clear eyes, as an enemy. In peacetime he often occupies an honored position, being then only a thief who lives lawfully on what his neighbor makes.
The war leaves us with only human values to go by. It is not very comfortable. It either shows a man or shows him up. Out of this new revelation may come a new society, a true society, a society of man.
There are economic problems because there are rich men and poor men. There are wars because there are economic problems. Let us, simply, eliminate the rich men?
From Washington, D.C. came the following communique, issued by the war department:
“Philippine theater: Heavy fighting is in progress in Lingayen Gulf, 150 miles north of Manila, where the Japanese are attempting a landing in force.
“Under a strong naval and air escort a fleet of about 80 troop ships appeared off the west coast of Luzon. Soon afterward a large number of about 150-man barges entered Lingayen Gulf, attempting a landing in the vicinity of Agoo (La Union) Some of them succeeded in getting ashore.
“The Japanese force is estimated at from 80,000 to 100,000, from six to eight divisions. The attempted invasion is being met with fierce resistance by American and Filipino troops.
“Fighting is continuing near Davao on the island of Mindanao.
“There is nothing to report from other areas.”
Reports filtering into the city from the front told how the Lingayen beaches were piled high with Japanese dead, the water filled with the bobbing heads of Japanese soldiers whose boats had been sunk. The enemy, nevertheless, continued to gain.
Air-raid alarm this afternoon, catching the city on its way back from lunch to work. I was in a bookstore when the alarm came. I found a chair and a copy of Peter Arno’s usually very amusing cartoons. I was not amused, though I tried hard to be. The necessity of maintaining a decent serenity during a raid leaves a man not quite up to the enjoyment of even the most Rabelaisian humor.
“They can’t do this to me,” said a wounded one from Murphy, indicating what, in fact, they had done.
In an invasion the invaders are always grim, earnest and “proceed according to plan.” The invaded, bewildered at the beginning by the sudden onslaught of the enemy who had so recently been talking amity and peace, minimize by whimsy and humor the offs against them and set up a wall of lightheartedness between themselves and the desperate character of their situation. It is no longer fashionable to believe in heroes. Even as men conduct themselves unmistakably as such, they perversely refuse to acknowledge it. They die with their boots and a quip on.
They refuse to honor the enemy by taking him –at least in their speech– seriously. This is more than a case of whistling in the dark –the practice of adolescence. This, they vaguely feel, is the proper attitude to be adopted by the host toward an uninvited guest. Impolite and distant.