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

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NEW YORK—I have just received a small paper, published in the Chestnut Hill area of suburban Philadelphia, with the request that I read an editorial on the individual's role in the prevention of war. The author is trying to get across to us that through the specialized agencies of the United Nations everyone of us, as individuals, can become important in preventing war. To emphasize her point, she closed the editorial with the following verse, written by her little girl, which might well remind us of the work of the U.N.:

"The U.N. can be a place,
That is very helpful to the human race.
Famine and disease
Are what the U.N. tries to ease.
When trouble comes to some far-off land,
Troops are sent to keep the peace,
While at home debates take the stand,
Trying to make the shooting cease."

The child put it very simply, but her mother's editorial states that because "no leader of any one nation dares to assume the responsibility of total annihilation of the human race, in this period of hesitation lies the individual's opportunity to take the initiative and assume leadership throughout the world, in preventing war. This the individual can do most effectively through the United Nations."

This was brought home to me on my recent trip for the American Association for the United Nations, for in the organization of new chapters and in talking to people who are really working to interest more people in the U.N. in the hope of having peace in the world I found any number of creative ideas coming out of the contacts.

Leadership in every community seems to come largely from schools, colleges, and church groups. And sometimes labor and farm groups will show a distinct interest. But, as I said before, the discouraging thing is that we get so little interest on the part of the business community. I am hoping that this will change, for the U.N. and peace actually mean more to the business of all communities, both at home and abroad on a long-time scale, than to any other work being done in the country.

It is true that some people may be saying that "in wartime we have grown richer and our stockholders have profited." But our businessmen had better stop to think that future wars are going to be very different. The U.S. will never again come out of a war with a greater productive capacity than went into it.

Peace is as important to businessmen as it is to any other group. We can well help other nations to develop their productivity, for in return they will buy our finished goods. Our businessman is short-sighted if he does not project himself into the future and realize that he can never again live in the past; therefore, he must be as interested in the machinery that leads us to peace as anyone else in our community.

Someone in Indiana made the very good suggestion that our chapters offer a service to the innumerable people in every locality who become tourists at sometime in every year. They would be unofficial ambassadors. If they were better informed, if they realized they had a real responsibility, they might become truly ambassadors of goodwill. Thus, our chapters have a real opportunity to help transform U.S. tourists into really purposeful citizens representing our country with real intelligence and winning friends wherever they go.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 20, 1959

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.