New York City
October 2, 1969
Whatever has changed, whatever I've lost of myself, has been the bad stuff. I mean, now I don't go into terrible states for six months where I can't think of any reason for living, but at the same time I can't think of any real reason for dying so I just...like I've just laid in bed for six months. Not able to move.... I don't do that anymore.
Not that I'm saying that's good. I mean I think it's great to just lay in bed for six months. At least you're not making things worse...I mean, all these active people, that's what they do. I have a very black view of the world. Very very very black. I say that anything that happens to it, it deserves. But it doesn't affect my life so much now. I try to keep my little part. To live sanely.
What I'd really like to be is rich. A mother. A capitalist. Have a big house, a garden, everything else. Yeah, I would really like to be bourgeois but I just can't seem to make it. No matter how hard I try.
DR. BENJAMIN SPOCK, pediatrician and
antiwar activist, with his wife, JANE
New York City
September 18, 1969
My mother was a stern, dominating woman and my father a very grave, quiet person. I was made to be a kind of goody-goody boy who couldn't do what the other boys did. Why, even on Halloween, when my friends would talk about turning over trash cans, I would leave the group. I was so afraid of being bad and being caught at it. My mother used to say to me, "All you have to be is sure you're right and then nothing touches you," but if you think I was buying that in adolescence! I was extremely conformist in boarding school and in college. Always trying to be accepted.
When Jane and I got married and moved to New York, my whole idea was to be a man of the world. I wore high collars and suspenders and chalk-striped suits and did everything in my power to appear...the distinguished man of the big city. I thought I could throw off my mother's teachings.... I didn't know then that you can't live down this kind of upbringing. It was only gradually that I realized I'm conscience-bound. Always will be. Then I spent the rest of my life finding how to live enjoyably with my conscience. Accepting the conscience. Paying any price. And by paying...getting permission from my conscience to do the other things that are more fun.
This is like a marvelous solution for me. Why, if somebody said to me now, "You're a has-been. The war's won. You don't speak the modern language," I'd be terribly disappointed.... It's an ideal existence. Out in the open. Berating the president of the United States.... In psychodynamic terms, I'm free to thwart and torment the authorities-that is to say, I can get out my hostilities-because I'm protected in my conscience by the knowledge that what I'm doing is morally right. I've never been so relaxed. I've never been so happy.