My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Thursday—There is little more I want to tell you of Mlle. Marie Souvestre today, because I feel that we, in this country, are going to be called on to think more and more of education and of educators in the next few years. The pamphlet that I told you about yesterday ends in a way which shows her character clearly.

"It was fitting and in accordance with her wishes that the considerable fortune she left should be devoted to the health and care of workers. A block of workmen's dwellings and workshops fitted with electric power in Paris, a seaside holiday home for women workers of the professional classes and a hospital in Paris for those who have retired from work were built and liberally endowed with the money she earned during her laborious life.

"Griefs, cares, and disappointments of her own she no doubt had. They left their mark on her fine face—a face that was grave in spite of its tempests of gaiety—and gave it perhaps its spirituality, but I don't think she was interested in them. She was, I think, the least introspective—or the most reserved—of human beings. In any case, there were too many other things to talk about, or care about. And that, of course, was in the main the essence of her teaching and example: to care profoundly, actively, for other things, for other people—to enjoy, to do."

Such teachers are rare and they leave their mark. I hope we will have many more of them in this period to mold the future of our younger generation, for Mlle. Souvestre imbued her pupils with moral courage that stayed with them throughout their lives.

It seems to me that the main thing we have to face today is the tendency and the possibility to call Communistic those things in the nature of a reform or change that certain people do not like. This is clearly in opposition to all of our democratic ideals.

From my point of view it is really not a question whether we are opposed to Communism. It is a question whether we are going to call so many ideas Communistic that people will be afraid to express their opinions for fear of having them labelled as such.

In the case of the professors at the University of Washington, the issue seems clear for those who openly say they are Communists. One cannot subscribe to the Communist party and at the same time be a good citizen of the United States, much less a teacher.

One may believe that democracy requires certain changes and if one's beliefs are disliked by others and labelled Communistic, then we are in danger of doing just what the Communists do.

In other words, we have to watch ourselves so that we do not take a leaf out of the Communist book and suppress all individuals who differ in their opinion from what other people might consider the democratic line.

E. R.

(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1949, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC., REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 28, 1949

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.
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