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

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NEW YORK—With Congress back in session, I must say I am discouraged to read that its leaders are concerned primarily with the military arms race with the USSR

I am beginning to think that it is much more important to stop thinking about the Soviet Union and concern ourselves with those things we consider necessary for our own well-being, at the same time giving due consideration to our responsibility to the world.

We in this country are the showcase for the rest of the world—a country which since its inception has been dedicated to the principles of democracy and freedom. As conditions have changed we have gone through many interpretations of these aims, but the fundamental concept has always remained.

We, as a people, at the present time need to stop and re-evaluate the objectives for which we build and defend our nation. We want to be free—free to think, to debate, to meet together, to express ourselves, to forge through these means the policies to be carried out by those we elect to office.

Our ultimate aim is to achieve, through freedom, a better and happier existence. We want to live democratically, and this implies consideration of the needs and wishes of others.

We must take an active part in the choice and in the guidance of our representatives, for only in this way can we be sure of presenting to the world a true picture of what democracy and self-government means. We must decide, after due discussion, to subordinate our individual preferences to the will of the majority.

All this means that at this moment our leaders should not be thinking solely of how we can top Russia's military progress. Of course, we should not become so weak and defenseless as to tempt a potential aggressor. But in giving the impression that all our forces are bent in meeting the Soviet Union's military challenge, we show a lack of realization of what today's real challenge is.

When did the world actually become most conscious of the influence of the United States?

In traveling throughout the world we discover that it was the dynamic spirit showed by the American people in meeting and conquering the Depression that made the deepest impression on other peoples, particularly those in underdeveloped areas.

These peoples realized that here was a government concerned with the well-being of its individual citizens, giving them hope that someday they might have a government equally concerned with them as individuals.

This became their concept of the meaning of democracy, and the United States represented in their minds a way of life that might bring them greater happiness.

If we are going to regain this influence, we must begin to forge a concrete program, first taking a good look at the needs of our own nation and never forgetting that we have what the Soviet Union does not have—a surplus of food.


(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 11, 1958

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.