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

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NEW YORK, Sunday—I am not quite sure I feel very happy over the barrage we have felt it necessary to put out to deny Soviet accusations that we were making a move for peace. I thought the Russians a little childish in being so quick to insist that, whatever was said, we were the ones who felt the need for further conversations. As a matter of fact, most of us know the USSR couldn't make anyone, except their own people, believe that. Perhaps their own people needed a little encouragement.

Nevertheless, why should we feel it necessary to deny so vehemently that we intended to make a move for peace when heaven knows everything that we do in these days is directed toward that end? We do not want the Russians to think that we are afraid of them and are coming hat in hand to beg for more conversations. But I can't see why we have to deny that we try to bring about better understanding between us. It is fairly obvious to all the world by now that the one thing Russia enjoys doing is to talk. She can talk indefinitely and never seems to think it is a waste of time. By now even Russia must know that we and certain other nations consider talk which leads to no results futile and unnecessary.

Because so few people and so little news flows back and forth between Eastern Europe and the rest of the world, and because we have different economic systems and political beliefs, a cooperation which was easy in wartime—when one overwhelming necessity overshadowed everything else—has vanished into thin air. We are suspicious of each other. We know nothing about each other and each one thinks that the other is trying to hoodwink us, to put up a show for our benefit, to make us believe something which isn't true.

Russia goes a little beyond that, unfortunately, as in her latest move in Korea, where electric power for the southern part, which we occupy, is derived from the northern part, occupied by Russia. The action of the Soviet commanding general, who cut off all power supply to the southern part, might lead to really serious results.

This game of seeing how far you can go in irritating other people and still not goad them to more than verbal protest is a dangerous game. It reminds me of my two youngest sons when they were very small. The youngest looked like a small cherub, while the next oldest was big and strong for his age. He could have made mincemeat out of the younger one, and so everyone used to caution him: "Of course, you won't hurt your little brother."

But the little brother took advantage of the situation and kept irritating the older one without letup. Finally the elders realized what was going on and they lifted the ban on retaliation. One evening the older brother could stand no more, and with vigorous measures put his small, angelic-looking tormentor into his proper place. The older members of the family watched without a single word of protest. The lesson was excellent and perhaps might be applied to international relations now and then.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 17, 1948

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.