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


CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—I hope that my readers will agree with what I said in my two previous columns—that health and education are a part of the defense of any nation. But, in saying that, I did not mean that we necessarily do not have to face up to the military threat of the Soviet Union.

The potential destruction made possible by nuclear weapons is so great that the Soviets will tell you that no nation can any longer consider war as a way of settling difficulties. That does not mean, however, that we can afford to offer the temptation which real weakness in a military way would bring about. At the present time our power to retaliate against an aggressor is ever present.

I think it is a mistake to give the impression that we are ready to enter into a race for supremacy in the military field. We should keep a balance in military power, but talk should come to an end.

We should do what is necessary to preserve this balance. If we are conducting new experiments, we should continue them, announcing them only when they have proved to be successful and when we are ready to have the world know about them.

The Soviets are carrying on their efforts to win world domination not only through military strength but through economic and cultural methods. We must meet this challenge by clearly stating our objectives for the future of our nation and for that of the world.

Soviet leaders make no bones about telling the world that it may take 50 to 100 years, but in the end they will have a Communist world.

So it might do well for us to say:

We know it will take time to achieve our aim, but we aspire to give people the essential freedoms in our own country and in the world, always remembering that the freedom of any one individual must be limited by the freedom of other individuals with whom he comes in contact.

Our freedom rests on the right of every human being to think freely along any line, to express himself and to meet with others for purposes of association and action in conformity with his beliefs. We look to the day when this freedom will bring to every individual a greater equality of opportunity, greater economic security, and eventually greater happiness.

These are our aims and they set the framework within which we will strive in our own country to demonstrate what results can be achieved. We will offer to other countries our help and cooperation in achieving for themselves, in their own way, freedom combined with material and spiritual well-being.

I think that if our people understand our objectives and that we really mean to accomplish them, they will feel they have something worth defending and will be willing to try to defend it in all the ways we are outlining.

Our economic well-being is, of course, essential to our defense. We read in our newspapers that unemployment is growing and that this business Administration in Washington has succeeded not only in bringing this unemployment about but in making it impossible for any small business to survive.

I am no economist, and so I can only point out that small businesses have been essential to our nation in the past, giving employment to a great percentage of our people. I am in no position to know what should be done today, but I do know that changes must be made and new things done.

I think the time has come for appointing groups of people in the fields of agriculture, health, education, military defense and economics to make a thorough study along the lines of the Rockefeller panel report recently submitted on the military situation.

No one thing is going to meet the challenge of the Soviet Union and settle our problems here at home, or meet the needs of the world situation.

No comprehensive plan is being presented by Congress or by the Administration. Therefore, it is time the people began to emphasize the need for these studies and to ask for blueprints that will give us confidence that we are moving forward and not standing still until we reach a point of crisis.


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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Chapel Hill (N.C., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 16, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.