The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Tuesday—There is a paragraph at the end of a column by Regine Kurlander in one of our newspapers, which I think is well worth commenting on today. It reads: "Our security is not a matter of weapons alone. I know that to cope with present dangers we must be strong in heart and hand, strong in our faith, strong in our way of living."

What is our way of living? How does it differ from that of the two allied dictator nations in Europe today? The difference seems to be that in these two countries the rulers tell their people what they are to do, whereas in other countries people themselves have to decide what they are willing to do.

Herein lies the challenge to democracy. These rulers in both cases, started their programs by explaining to their people that they wished to make life better for them, even a few years ago people going to Germany were carefully shown that there were no slums, that the Government was making every effort to make life more worthwhile for everyone. The objectives were hidden. After the good things were firmly established in the minds of both Germans and Russians, the idea of power and ability to dominate the world was equally carefully instilled.

We, in this country, had best learn a lesson from them. Every individual in this country must be convinced that the Government is as much interested today in seeing them well housed, well clothed and well fed, obtaining needed medical care and recreation, as they are concerned that arms are necessary for defense in the world as it is today. Unless the two convictions go hand in hand, somewhere the unity of the nation will break.

Those watching the drama in Europe today are sick at heart at the suffering of individual human beings. Last night I saw the pictures of destruction in Belgium and the faces of the people. That might be your little sister with her head done up in bandages. Wake up every one of you to the two fronts on which our defense must be built!

A group of people interested in housing came to see me this morning to talk about Housing Bill S 591. They made the point that, unless housing went on in this country at an accelerated pace, we would be paying more year by year in every community for the evils that come from bad housing and that we would build a better defense and healthier young people through giving them decent places in which to live. I am in entire accord with their stand and I only hope that women all over this country are going to take up the crusade for better housing. They should write to their representatives and say that they would rather pay for preventing crime and disease through better housing and that they have a personal interest in improving the homes of the nation both from the economic and moral standpoint.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 22, 1940

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.