My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Tuesday—There was an article in one of the Sunday papers, written by Dr. William Allen Neilson, which I hope a great many people read. One paragraph seemed particularly thought-provoking to me:

"What is important and essential is that our teachers should keep vividly aware of the ends for which they work and resist the perennial temptation to content themselves with operating little devices inside a sequestered field. Their duty is to society and their concern is with lives. If these are attended to, their students will not fail to value the institutions and privileges of the tradition they inherit."

So many students come out of school and college, and their first experience with life makes them question how honest their teachers were with them. Young people can value only the institutions, privileges and traditions which they inherit if their teachers have made them face the whole picture. This includes the responsibility which each person carries in a democracy and the realization that the objectives the people of a democracy must have are never won, they are constantly fought for with new objectives developing out of the constant struggle.

One thing that has been brought to my attention has deeply troubled me. We are told that there is no real reason why anybody should be unemployed today, but I receive letter after letter from older unemployed people. Some of them cannot adapt themselves to new jobs and their old jobs are wiped out under our war economy. Sometimes even the little businesses they are able to establish either disappear because they can no longer obtain the materials they need, or people are no longer buying from them. This is really becoming a problem of some magnitude in some communities.

Employers would rather employ young people, who learn more quickly and easily. Some of these young people even think if they accept lower wages they are fulfilling a patriotic duty. I am told that, in Detroit, some older women who have been employed in the automobile industry are still out of work. In some of the converted plants, young college people have been taken on and are paid less than the union member women made and, naturally, want to earn again. These are puzzling and distressing situations. The public should know about them and think them through to a just handling.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 10, 1942

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