My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Friday—Wednesday morning in New York I was busy up to the minute I took the 12:30 train to Worcester, from where I was taken to Fitchburg to speak for the Parent-Teacher Association on human rights.

P.T.A. groups throughout the country have been making a great effort to bring to people's attention questions of interest in the United Nations. The acceptance of the Declaration of Human Rights last year has given people time to study it and to come to a clearer understanding of where this has a bearing on the internal situation of each country. It is, nevertheless, an international document, which sets standards and voices aspirations for peoples all over the world, some of whom have never known a day of freedom.

We in the United States tend sometimes to think of international questions as they concern our own particular problems and we tend to believe that the conditions of all nations, and the desires of all peoples coincide with our own. This is something we must remember to check rather carefully with ourselves, for different conditions bring different conceptions of what rights and freedoms should be. The American way of life may not always be the way desired by other nations.

It is true, however, that the failure on our part to live up to what we have declared are the rights and freedoms and protections of all people under our democratic government has a bearing on our standing in the international situation. It is easy, for instance, for the Communists to point to our failures and to say, "These are the shortcomings of democracy." They won't simply say, "These are the shortcomings of a few people in the United States."

That is why for us it is important to check our national standards and practices, not only in words, but in deeds.

The whole world can know of our failures, and it is much more difficult for us to make the world understand our efforts and the great successes we have achieved in past years. This is due to the fact that our successes lie in actually bringing to reality words which we have preached for many years and up to now nobody has bothered to find out if these words were being lived up to. Now it is valuable to the Communist cause to point out where our words and actions are at variance.

On Thursday I was in Worcester at the North High School, again speaking on human rights. I returned to New York City early in the evening and caught the midnight train to Washington. This morning I had breakfast with my old friends, the Adolph Millers. I had expected to be with my son and daughter-in-law but it was not possible.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 7, 1950

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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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.