My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK—In Philadelphia's continuing celebration of the 250th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth, a foreign-born chemist whom I met the other night has been awarded the Franklin Institute's highest honor, the Franklin Medal. His name is Professor Arne Tiselius, a delightful, modest scientist who was the Swedish winner of the 1948 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

At Independence Hall on the same day there was also a ceremony that launched an interesting document, entitled, "A Declaration of Interdependence." This is a small but impressive pamphlet sponsored by the Interdependence Council, Inc., which was formed to develop an increasing sense of "interdependence among all peoples."

Five years of study in many countries of the world have gone into this document which is signed by 1,371 persons in 51 nations. It reaffirms man's dependence on man without regard to religion, color or geographical boundaries.

In the foreword this declaration states "people have the power to help or harm each other. Which shall it be? Nations can live in peace or die in war? Which shall it be? The fate of humanity depends on the feelings of individuals toward one another."

And then it says what I think is all important for all of us to remember:

"I am only one. But I am one. I cannot do everything. But I can do something. What I can do I ought to do. What I ought to do I will do."

If all of us lived up to that, we could go a long way, and I think that an organization that has representatives in 51 nations trying to live up to this creed can have some effect on public opinion.

This is not a political organization. It is a people's organization that does not support the foreign policy of any country. It simply presents specific goals toward which those who signed the declaration may strive.

One objective of the declaration is to "develop and maintain mutual trust among individuals of goodwill divided from one another by national frontiers but striving for better human relations."

It may be possible in time for people to think that "superior individuals, not superior force, make a nation respected. Such superior individuals can attain leadership only if the spirit of the Declaration of Interdependence is acted upon with conviction by a nucleus of convinced followers. Such persons may be few, but they are mighty."

This organization may be only a candle lighted in a world which at present seems very dark, to those who would like to see peace and goodwill established. But even a candle is better than no light at all, as many of us have discovered who live in areas where occasionally electric light is cut off for a time.

So I hope that many people will obtain this Declaration of Interdependence and try to live by it.