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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Monday—I had an interesting visitor on Saturday in the country, a psychiatrist, who feels that psychiatry should be used to help us keep peace in the world. He spent some time last week listening to various arguments going on in the committees of the General Assembly and he came away slightly discouraged about the level of effort to find agreement among us.

Sunday night I went to International House for the Candle Light ceremony, which is one of the closing ceremonies of the year.

International House is one of several houses in this country where people of different nationalities live while they continue their education. About 65 percent of the people in New York's International House come from 50 foreign countries. The remainder are Americans from all over our country.

There are so many people now scattered throughout the world who have lived in International Houses that it has become an international organization. Chapters have been growing up and new houses are being contemplated throughout the world. I spoke in the Paris International House in the Cité Universitaire last autumn.

The basic idea behind these groups is the growth of human fellowship. The candlelight ceremony is symbolic of what they pledge themselves to do as they go out to their various fields of endeavor in the world. From the central light, which burns as you enter, the head of the student body lights his candle and starts lighting those of his nearest neighbors. Each one gives his neighbor a light until the room is filled with candle light, symbolic of the light which can flow from the hearts of these men and women to the hearts of other men and women throughout the world.

An Indian student gave me the explanation of this symbolic ceremony before it began. Then, with all the candles lit, the group sang "Hymn for the Nations," which was new to me and I liked particularly the following lines:

"Build the road of Peace before us,

Build it wide and deep and long;

Speed the slow and check the eager,

Help the weak and curb the strong.

None shall push aside another.

None shall let another fall.

March beside me, O my brother,

All for one, and one for all!"

I think it might be a good idea for us to sing this hymn daily in our meetings in the United Nations. It might remind us, as did the Indian scholar in his explanation, that once upon a time in settling a dispute a ruler, following the advice of a Persian philosopher, ordered the litigants to make out a list of their points of agreement. The list grew so long that those who had disagreed came to see how unimportant was their disagreements, and the quarrel ended there!

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 10, 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.