My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NANTUCKET, Mass. , Wednesday—I received a letter from a Gold Star Mother the other day which, I think, stated some thoughts that are in the hearts of many women today:

"My grandson is returning from the Valley Forge Jamboree where boys meet each other as friends and are learning to live with each other. Why can't the armies do the same? I am not writing this for any publicity nor for any selfish reason, but it seems to me you are in a position to plant in the minds of different nations our longing for peace, real peace."

I think the people of every nation in the world would echo this woman's cry, and there are no members of our administration, from the President through the whole list of our official government representatives, who would not say that peace was the all-important objective for which they strove every day of their lives.

The trouble is that men throughout the world are not all in the same stage of development. Some have reached the point where they might have the patience to reason out the problems that face nations, but others will tend to think only of settlement through force. And, so long as there is this difference in background we cannot bring about universal agreement. We are obliged to resign ourselves to taking certain actions, which we hope will give us time to achieve mutual understanding and a similar level of development. At the same time, prevent war during that period of development.

If anyone believes that force can settle problems, then those of us who want peace, must have force to avoid becoming the slaves of those who would use force in order to control the minds and lives of other men. This puts a very heavy load on the more highly developed people of the world, because they must constantly watch themselves so they only use their force to prevent war. They must remain open to negotiations and ready to discuss agreements of any kind, even with the people who seem at present unable to trust exclusively to reason for the ultimate settlement of difficulties.

Disarmament must, in turn be complete and universal. Real inspection must be set up and applied alike in every nation. Real strength must exist in the United Nations, and the machinery of the United Nations must be able to function on a legal and humanitarian basis. Their police force must be a genuine police force, really keeping any aggressors in order.

To submit to this kind of collective control means that we have faith in human beings the world over. We must believe that human beings, acting collectively, can be impartial and objective, that they can hold ideals of justice and freedom for all the nations of the world, little and big.

To attain this faith we must see the nations of the world, members of the United Nations, acting year by year under the guidance of these ideals.

In other words, individually within the United Nations we are proving our ability to live in a world democracy. No easy thing to prove, no easy faith to build, but only in this way will we answer the cry from the hearts of the women of the world.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Nantucket (Mass., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 27, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.