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

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NEW YORK—As one looks at the pictures of crowds of Tibetans who stream down to welcome the Dalai Lama and to get a fleeting blessing as he passes on his train, one cannot help but wonder how the Communist Chinese government can give such strange excuses for what they have done in Tibet.

It seems to me it would be better to say nothing, for the whole of Asia must know that the pattern of broken promises and torn-up agreements has repeated itself.

And we know, if we did not know it before, that under the Communist pattern the end justifies the means. If you believe that communism must spread to all the world, then the way it is accomplished makes very little difference. An agreement to let people have freedom to make their own choice in peace has no validity. For when you find that these people are not going the way you expected them to go, you will tear up the agreements and use force to obtain your objective.

This is what the Communists have done in Tibet. This is what they did in Lithuania, Latvia, Esthonia and in all the other satellite countries. By now the whole of Asia should know what has happened and should understand better the long struggle that has gone on in the disarmament meetings. Without some firm ways to prove that promises are going to be kept, the world would indeed be foolish to trust its future to written agreements with the Communists.

Disarmament is something all of us want. To see nuclear tests stopped would be a relief to many of us. And even with the new suggestions made by the United States many of us feel there is still much chance of danger to the human race which we should like to eliminate altogether.

But unless the Soviets agree to inspection no one can be surprised that the West does not accept mere written agreements.

Even inspection may not be foolproof, but with alert people on the job it probably can be made to give as much safety as we can hope for until such time as the Communists come to the conclusion that the world does not intend to be a Communist world.

When the time comes, it may be possible to settle down to letting people have freedom of choice. Some may choose communism and some may not. But if people are free to choose, we can live together with different ideologies and not go to war or have any fear of force. Until the Communists come to this conclusion our only safeguard can be an inspection system that would be as alert as possible.

Last Friday night I saw the final performance of the Norman Corwin play, "The Rivalry." I thought it was extremely well done and, since the audience was enthusiastic and the theatre so full, I wondered why the play was closing.

Of course, the thing that impressed me was that the arguments put forth so long ago by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas were, in principle, as valid today. The arguments touched on many of the same fundamental problems that are disturbing our nation at the present moment.

Actually, anything that reaches down to our moral values remains of crucial interest through the ages and is argued and re-argued. I enjoyed the evening very much and was glad I had a chance to see the play before it closed.


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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 23, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.