FEBRUARY 3, 1961
NEW YORK —The fine reception that Mr. Adlai E. Stevenson received when he first met with the United Nations Security Council not only was a tribute to him. It also proved President Kennedy's good judgment, and how important it is for Mr. Stevenson to be just where he is.
At the U.N. much of the feeling of nations where it concerns the United States can be created. The representatives who meet there send back to their countries the impressions they have of U.S. policies and representation. They and their staffs read our newspapers meticulously, listen to our radio and TV, and study the attitude of our representatives, which make friends or foes for us in the world.
Ambassador Stevenson, as he should now be called, has chosen his associates with care. Every one of them will follow the example of his chief, and I believe we will shortly see a change that will facilitate the work of the representatives on our various delegations.
I will not be surprised, for instance, if before long we see some real work done on the problem of the Covenants of Human Rights. I have almost come to the conclusion that as they are drawn today they would not be acceptable to a great many of the countries that should be bound by treaties on fundamental points where these rights are concerned.
Therefore, I think it would be of great value to have the documents recommitted to the Human Rights Commission. New treaties in which perhaps only a few fundamental points would be covered—with a clause permitting the addition of new articles as the countries became prepared to accept them—would be a step forward, though it may seem to some it might be a step backward. I think such action would be realistic, since some of the countries that might accept the treaties as they are now drawn would almost certainly not live up to them.
One of our major magazines this month has an article on American morality in which a number of people give their opinions of where we stand today in the matter of morals and ethics. It is a most interesting article, published by McCall's, and I hope many people will read it.
President Kennedy has already called attention to this situation by speaking about ethics in government. But he is bringing up so many important things so quickly these days that I think his suggestions need to be reinforced by being taken up in greater detail, as is done in this article and which can give us all food for thought.
President Kennedy's second press conference was again, I think, a great success. He is being honest in his answers, which is really the one safeguard in a situation where you can be heard by the entire country and where nothing you say will be forgotten.
I am particularly delighted that the overseas dependents' ruling has been revoked. That particular cutback seemed to me an unwise way to save money, and I am glad that the President thinks his Secretary of Defense can find other ways of doing this.
The problem of meeting our economic situation and getting people employed without creating inflation is, of course, a major problem. But if it can be done at all I think the energy and intelligence that is now being put in solving the problem should achieve the desired results.
I am particularly glad, also, to see that a plan for using food stamps in certain areas is going to be worked out and used here at home to bring about a better distribution of our surplus food. Both Agriculture Secretary Orville L. Freeman and Mr. George McGovern, the Administration's director of the food for peace program, must be getting knowledge all the way down the line—from their civil service subordinates who are the ones acquainted with the past and the present most intimately. They no doubt have knowledge that was available in the recent past but which they had not been called on to give.
Food stamps, under the plan now suggested, would be issued through local authorities to needy families who can use them to get designated foods at regular markets, and already the list of foods to be available has been increased. This will be in addition to the expansion of the regular distribution of food to the needy which the President ordered the day after he took office.
All this and much more shows that action is coming in the wake of words and I think the country is beginning to feel the lift of knowing that something is being done to meet our problems. Everything may not work out perfectly, but one does have the feeling that there will be no letup in effort until solutions are found.
(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 3, 1961
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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