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

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HYDE PARK, Sunday—I have a letter from one of my readers asking me to please write a little more about what we, as individuals could do in this rather dangerous world of ours where science has given us the knowledge of how to destroy ourselves and where we do not seem to have learned how to live together in peace.

Human relations have lagged behind our scientific knowledge, but at the moment it seems to me that we in the United States could do something different from what we have done before. Merely lending money to the world is not enough. Merely giving them a sense of military security and strength is not enough. What is really needed is inspiration and example.

We are the leading democracy in the world. Our people want to prove that men are capable of governing themselves; that they are capable of learning to live together at home in peace, and therefore to live peacefully with the rest of the world. This means an individual soul-searching and discipline which no people in any nation has ever undertaken before. It means that labor and capital have to get on together; that each has to have an understanding of the other's needs and a legitimate share of profits whether produced by labor, or investment or management; and that the government must stand guard over the complaints of each side, so that where there are people who do not see the need for subordinating individual interests to the interests of the whole, they will be kept in line by their government.

The spiritual forces that come to us from church and education and the arts in general should constantly be making us aware of the fact that it is example which points the way to better living and, in Christian countries, the pattern of the life of Christ should be more often in the minds of all men. Our nation is a Christian nation, but I doubt if any of us could say that we even remind ourselves daily that our lives should be patterned on a life lived many centuries ago in Galilee.

Our greatest weakness today in our struggle with Communism lies in our own weakness—our racial discrimination, our struggle for personal advantage or group advantage. There is plenty of room for differences of opinion on how we shall attain our ends. But there is very little room for differences of opinion as to what our ends shall be, if we hope to convince the world that our way of life offers a chance for peace and goodwill among men. Marxism, after all, was a revolt against the cruelty which Karl Marx saw in the industrial system that came into being during his time. What now exists in many Communist states, however, is quite a different thing. Perhaps, if we show a genuine effort to live up to the best ideals of democracy and Christianity, some of the confidence may develop which would make it possible for all people, regardless of their religious beliefs or their governmental or economic systems, to live in the same world together.

If our objectives everywhere are the same, we need not fight about the methods we use to achieve these objectives, for in the end each of us will accept what is best from the other. But we must want freedom for all people, and a regard for human rights must exist everywhere.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 6, 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 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.