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


NEW YORK, Monday—A few days ago I received a rather interesting letter from Dr. L.C. Holtzendorff of Valdosta, Georgia. One paragraph I want to quote here:

"Operating under the assumption that we can fight an enemy best when we know him best, I believe that we should educate ourselves better about the meaning and purposes of communism. This educational program should be undertaken by every means possible and on every educational level. Press, radio, motion pictures and public discussions should be used realistically and intelligently to educate the great mass of the people. Just as a physician is taught the nature of disease so that he may recognize and cure it, also should the real facts of communism be revealed to every citizen, young and old, of these United States."

It would be a great advance, I think, if we were to accept this thesis. Often in the past we have been opposed to even having communism mentioned in our schools. It seems to me basically true that our young people would be better fitted to understand communism if they discussed it with people who themselves are able to understand and explain any misapprehensions that arise. Somewhere along the line young people are going to hear something about communism and it would be better to be prepared to recognize truth from falsehood.

I am in complete accord with much that follows in this interesting communication from Dr. Holtzendorff. Communism is aimed at world revolution. It is economic even more than it is political. The basic difference between the concept of communism and democracy lies in the fact that under communism the individual is destined to serve the state, while under democracy the state was created to serve the individual.

One thing Dr. Holtzendorff does not emphasize quite sufficiently is that democracy, or rather the ideals of democracy, are rooted in Christian ideals. There are many other religions that in one way or another stand for very nearly the same thing, but the actual concept of the worth of the individual human personality is basic to Christianity and basic to democracy.

I do not think our problem is a public relations problem. I think it is really the need in the United States to make our democracy more nearly attain the Christian ideal. By so doing we will prove to the world that democracy can be made a better way of life and is a more revolutionary concept of communism, which does not allow freedom to the individual and always sets the good of the state above that of the individual.

What we are doing in strengthening our military position throughout the world is to buy time so that our economic power may be used to improve conditions of people in the underdeveloped parts of the world as well as at home. Thus, a new and vitalized concept of our obligations as citizens in a democracy may give us real spiritual and moral leadership in the world.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 6, 1951

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.