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

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EN ROUTE TO CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, N.B. , Wednesday—In a brief story entitled "The Three Bricklayers" in This Week magazine, different attitudes of mind towards daily work are very clearly shown. One bricklayer felt he was just laying bricks, the second said that he was making money, but the third said he was building a cathedral. He saw the ultimate objective for which he was working, and so he enjoyed his work and it meant more to him than if it had been just a method of keeping occupied or of earning a living.

Many of us think of our daily occupation from a narrow viewpoint. It may seem small and unimportant. We earn a living or we play a part as citizens. If we are on a school board, for instance, we think we only affect the way the school is run this year or next, while we are on the board. We forget that the objective of a good school is to train children for life.

We cast a ballot in an election and we think that we are choosing people to decide the local questions in our community. We elect men to our state government or to our national Congress, but we think so little of our action of voting that we fail to see its true proportions and the importance of what we are doing.

* * *

Once elected to Congress, most Americans want to return for at least one more term. Therefore they are very conscious of what the people at home are thinking. If the people are giving no thought to the questions that confront their Congressmen or their state legislators, those representatives are going to have a tough time.

Special interests are going to bring all kinds of arguments to bear on them. They will be buffeted this way and that. The party leaders may give some guidance, but very often they, too, are left without much idea of what the party members throughout the country are thinking. In the final analysis, it is not the people as a whole who obtain representation; it is the few people who have sufficient special interests to feel it worthwhile to try to exert influence on legislation.

As citizens, I think it would be well if we could think along the lines of the third bricklayer, who saw that he was building a cathedral. It stood before him in all its beauty as he laid each brick, so he enjoyed his work and did it more carefully than the other workmen. If enough of us will look into the future and see in our mind's eye the kind of world we want, then democracy will really function and a free people will give freely the peacetime service their nation needs.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Campobello Island (N.B., Canada) [ index ]
Other Terms and Topics

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 17, 1947

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

  • Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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  • Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
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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.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.