JANUARY 29, 1951
NEW YORK, Sunday—I got back from Washington yesterday afternoon by air and was surprised to see snow upon the ground as we approached New York City. In the evening I attended the ADA dinner where George Kennan spoke. Within two days I have listened to two of the best speeches I have heard in a long time, one by Archibald MacLeish at the ADA dinner in Washington and the one by Mr. Kennan. Both of them deserve to be given in full, and I hope they will be reprinted and made available for people who care sufficiently to give a little thought to the present situation in our own country as it relates to our leadership in the world.
Mr. MacLeish, being a poet, gave perhaps a little more emotional inspiration, reminding us of our past greatness and our potentialities, given certain qualities in ourselves. Mr. Kennan's speech was a carefully reasoned, very temperate analysis of the past and the present, and a challenge to all of us to think with sobriety and move with reason and without emotion.
I had the opportunity to talk briefly with Senator Brewster yesterday in Washington and I felt a perfectly human emotion behind some of his views. It is natural and human to be angry, but we are at present in a position of world leadership which requires cold, calm reasoning. Righteous indignation may be valuable at times, but it must be used by those who have thought out very carefully the end results they want to achieve and not by those who are responding to emotion engendered by the action of others which happens to displease us. Leaders unfortunately can afford very little emotion.
The Congress is having to make the decision of whether they will comply with the request from India for two million bushels of wheat which will help to keep some of their people from starvation. There is a natural feeling of resentment because India has been holding back in the U.N. in her support of the United States. It would be easy for the Congress, instead of responding generously to this appeal to aid people who are in distress, to say: "You have shown no signs of going along with us—why should we go along with you?"
I think this would be a very short-sighted policy. The people of India, if large numbers starve to death, will know that the United States did not come to their aid, whereas the people of India probably know little or nothing about the reasons for positions taken by their government in the U.N. For 2000 years there has been peace between the Chinese and the Indian peoples. Here we are very proud of the more than 100 years during which peace has existed between us and the Canadians, and we would weigh rather carefully any actions which would endanger that peace.
In addition we must keep reminding ourselves that new nations as economically unstable as India and some of the other nations in the Asiatic area feel that the risk of a third world war, where it may mean near-extinction for many nations, will in all probability mean complete extinction for them. It is not strange, therefore, that they search the highways and byways for some peaceful way to settle the present difficulties in their area of the world. Communist China is an aggressor and must be called an aggressor. But we must remember that other nations have a greater stake in Asiatic affairs than we have, and we must move with calm moderation and speak softly even as we build our strength at home and abroad.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1951, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
Names Mentioned or Referenced
- New York (N.Y., United States)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 29, 1951
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
- Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
- Black, Allida M. (Editor)
- Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
- Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30
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