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

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NEW YORK, Tuesday—I spent all day yesterday—morning and afternoon—at Lake Success but we came to no conclusions in our commission's work. In fact, a good part of the time was spent discussing how we should discuss!

I can only say that I hope all the discussion helped to clarify the articles sufficiently so that we can reach a conclusion on all of them on Wednesday.

We are up against the same difficulty that we met last year in one of the articles which starts with the declaration that everyone has a right to life.

Our friends, the British, have drafted a few exceptions to this right. All of us, I think, would accept one or two exceptions if we could cover the rest by a general limitations clause that would apply to all the articles and say that rights are conditioned by such precautions as have to be taken for the sake of public health, public morals, and national security, or words to that effect. If we are going to mention enough exceptions, however, so that it looks as though we were trying to enumerate or include all the exceptions that might be considered necessary to that article, then we must really be specific and try to make a comprehensive list. And when we do that we find the exceptions running away with us.

The original drafting committee thought of 40 exceptions to one article and we have already listed 12 or more.

Beyond this fundamental difference, I think the other differences are questions of legal phrasing and I hope a little meeting on the side will help to clear those up. It was decided that a committee would meet Tuesday morning and I hope it will produce at least one acceptable text or two texts on which we can vote.

During the lunch hour I did two recordings, one for the Japanese women broadcasters who are here and another with some high-school from Alabama.

Then I had an opportunity to go into a meeting being held by a group of veterans from one of the hospitals. But my time was so short I was able only to say a few words about the work of the Human Rights Commission. I could not help thinking that the U.N. must mean something very real to these men. They have lost so much in order to win peace for the rest of us that seeing the machinery of this organization at work must have a special meaning for them.

I am no music critic but I thoroughly enjoyed the performance last night of "The Consul," the new musical drama by Gian-Carlo Menotti. Through the first two acts I literally lived in Magda Sorel's emotions. Vera Bryner played the role and I thought it was not only rare theatre but wonderfully moving music and a fine performance. Somehow the last act moved me less. Whether the phantasy broke the impact or what it was, I do not know. It was still fine but I was not living it anymore.

This is a wonderful achievement for Mr. Menotti. He is young and I know how much more lies ahead of him. Marie Powers was wonderful and though I was sorry not to hear Patricia Neway, of whom I have heard wonderful things, still I cannot say that I felt the slightest lack in Miss Bryner's performance.

All in all, I think it is an evening no one will quickly forget. There is food for thought in the Consul's office. How horrible to live in a world of papers! Human values count for so little and machinery for so much. It is a truthful picture of totalitarianism, with secret police and psychological torture, all unrolling before your eyes. Pray God it never comes any nearer than the stage.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 5, 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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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.