SEPTEMBER 14, 1951
HYDE PARK, Thursday—One is distressed to read in the press that one of our most cool-headed Senators—Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois—apparently had a temporary breakdown. He screamed and walked off the Senate floor in tears.
One can only say that it must take remarkable self-control not to do this very frequently if one has the slightest interest in what actually is happening to the country, and the reaction to it in the Senate of the United States. I have had people tell me they can't even read what goes on from day to day because it upsets them too much. What it must be to have to sit in the Senate and listen day after day is hard to imagine.
Sometimes when I pick up the Congressional Record (which I used to recommend for reading at bedtime to induce sleep) I shudder and hope that all I read is not true. One cannot go to sleep anymore, however, over the record because it produces just the opposite effect. It raises one's blood pressure and one can't sleep at all.
The truth is that all of us are going through a very difficult period. One of the reasons children stand their early years so well is because of their youthful stamina and education does not upset them as much as it does the rest of us. Education to the rest of us is a painful process and we suddenly find that those of us who thought our years of education, at least of formal education, were over, have to begin again and learn new things.
Since we are a democracy our representatives in Congress reflect our degree of education, and I think perhaps that is what made Senator Douglas scream. Many of the things he has been fighting for will probably be done if we, the people, and our representatives are good enough and sufficiently well educated to do them in the way the Senator believes they should be done. Much of the money that he thinks is wasted—if it is wasted—is wasted because most of us do not know what our jobs are all about.
What should we try to accomplish at home? What should we put the greatest emphasis on in other countries? What will bring us the greatest number of friends and develop the greatest desire among other peoples to resist communism? How will we persuade vast numbers of people in Asia that we do not plan to conquer the world; that we have no intention of building an empire; that all we want to do is to insure freedom both for ourselves and the rest of the world?
The added difficulty for all of us is the fact that in the greatest part of the world people know little or nothing about freedom. And when you know nothing about it you probably wonder why people in countries like the United States and Great Britain and a few other countries make such a fuss about preserving that freedom.
There are a lot of people in the world who much prefer making a fuss to secure one good square meal a day. We have to understand this and explain why freedom to us is so nearly synonymous with the chance to secure a good square meal a day and some of the necessities.
Once this is understood and some of our Senators stop saying things that cannot be understood by the rest of the world, perhaps Senator Douglas will not have to scream. Our people may reach a point where they demand of their representatives that they really act efficiently in making laws and insist these laws be carried out efficiently. Then the waste that Senator Douglas worried about will disappear.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1951, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 14, 1951
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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