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

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NEW YORK, Thursday—I have been thinking a good deal about the President's proposal to Congress that all the countries in this hemisphere join together in a joint defense system. In many ways there would be advantages to this system if it developed confidence and greater knowledge among us in this hemisphere.

It should bring about a feeling of interdependence which perhaps we need to develop on a regional scale before we develop it fully on a worldwide scale. I hope we would make it clear, however, that this would be a joint undertaking and in no way would change the individual political freedom of each nation.

In some areas of the world, military cooperation seems to mean political domination by one or more nations. This, I think, interferes with the liberty of smaller countries. Basically, those of us who are trying to build up the United Nations must realize that, even though some regions may have military power, their military power must at all times be the joint knowledge of all the other nations and must be available through the United Nations for keeping peace in the world. The more we learn to use joint power, the more we should be able to reduce, even on a regional basis, the power of individual nations.

* * *

This does not mean that I want to see us grow into a flabby country, with men who are unable to defend it physically. We might as well face the fact that defense in the future, as well as aggression, needs mechanical equipment and scientific research.

I think, too, that we need to devote our energies to better health, stronger, finer people, better educated, better fed and, above all, better disciplined. If democracy is to succeed, we need well-disciplined citizens who use their citizenship with intelligence.

Prof. William James used to say that, in a successful society, there would be found some equivalent for the good qualities which war brings forth in human beings, such as unselfishness, the recognition of the real brotherhood of man, and the basic human values which are recognized on the battlefield, where people are free of any artificial surroundings. There is only one real moral equivalent, and that is complete devotion to the improvement of man's condition.

Since that depends very largely on the elimination of war, and since the elimination of war depends very largely on the development of citizens throughout the world who insist on being free to think for themselves and to express their beliefs, we must work for these objectives. Governments respond to the development of their citizens in the democracies, so our responsibility seems clear.

E. R.

(World copyright, 1946, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.; reproduction in whole or part prohibited.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 10, 1946

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.