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

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TUMBLING DW RANCH, Nev., Monday—Not long ago I had the privilege of reading the commencement address delivered this year at the University of Nebraska by the Director of the Budget. When he delivered it, I am sure he was speaking far more as a Quaker, than as the man of public affairs.

This address must have made a deep impression on the young graduates who listened to him. He told them things about the present world and the world of the future, which it is well for young people, who may be running that world, to remember. I like the following quotation:

"It is depressing to think that mankind may stop fighting through fear. Fear alone is not enough...It is more honest to admit that the world is always at war in different ways. When we are not fighting with bullets, we fight with economics...Running through the centuries it seems clear that men have done their best when they were free, but what does free mean? Certainly not the right to do as one pleases. We think that America is the freest country in the world, but we have more laws per square foot than all the rest of the world put together, and every law tells us what we may not do or what we must do. We are free only because we steadily assert that our neighbor has equal rights and is or can be as good as we are."

Then he points out that in the end peace can only come when there is absolute gentleness in the heart of every man and it spreads from the individual to people in general and finally to nations as a whole.

"Don't forget that I have not told you to retire from the world. Please stay in it and work in it and also become gentle. You have had one of America's finest examples of that in your own state. By his own character Senator Norris has stood for honesty in government...Mr. Norris is an example of a person with an attitude of courtesy towards the Universe. You need not be Senators in order to be effective. It will do if you can fit your conception of the Infinite into your work whatever it may be, only be sure you have a conception of the Infinite, so that what you do will not only be a job but a way of life as well. Let it be your own and walk by your own light. I never saw a really integrated person who was not also gentle. If we can achieve this, each of us, all that is poignant and sensitive in man can live in peace."

I particularly like the need for a conception of the Infinite and for walking by your own light. It has always seemed to me that too many people were willing to walk by other people's light and in that way the light of the whole world was retarded.



About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 13, 1943

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.