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

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NEW YORK—It is certainly almost breathtaking to think that a man flew into space and was gone 108 minutes circling the earth and during the trip talked to the ground by radio.

I don't know, of course, what this means to scientists. It means little of interest to me except that the world is becoming smaller and smaller. In time, I suppose, we will find some real reason for wanting to communicate with the other planets—if there are human beings living on them. It will be exciting to find if their ways of life are better and more interesting than ours and it will certainly add new dimensions to our whole existence.

The fact that we in the United States should not be prepared to send a man into space as yet seems to me quite unimportant. This is the kind of thing in any case which should be under the sponsorship of the United Nations and information which is of value should be shared by all nations.

I am sure that there are matters of climate and perhaps many things which I do not know about which should be of value to the world as a whole, and this should certainly not be controlled by one nation alone.

That is why it seems to me important that agreements should be reached in the U.N. and that all information should be centered there for the use of the world as a whole.

We certainly congratulate the Soviet Union and can quite understand that the students at Moscow University held a celebration.

The Soviets, naturally, have great pride in being first to achieve scientific advances which some of us look upon as more or less incomprehensible developments but which we feel sure will eventually have more meaning to all of us.

I think there is a growing feeling in this country that the attitude taken by President Charles de Gaulle toward the U.N. is one that will do a great deal of harm.

No one feels that the U.N. is perfect in every detail of its present organization, but certainly the accusations levelled against it by President de Gaulle are not going to help to improve it. At the same time the withholding by France of its share of the expenses in the Congo weakens the organization, which even President de Gaulle acknowledges is "a great world undertaking" which he would like to see resumed on "a new basis."

He is helping to weaken it in just the way the Russians would like to see it weakened. And if you destroy something it is very rarely resumed on a better basis.

France is among those countries that have suffered most in war on its own soil in the past, and one would think that the people of France and their leaders would be more aware than almost any other people of the value of the machinery which helps us to delay wars—small wars or big wars. Because of their pride as a nation, the French have insisted on going on developing their own nuclear power, not realizing that probably they were encouraging every small European nation to hope that they also might have this power and also not realizing that every new nation that holds this power is an added danger to the world.

I believe our efforts as a whole should be bent toward putting this power as quickly as possible into the U.N. and toward increasing constantly the strength of the U.N. so that it can prevent the use of nuclear power for destructive purposes in the world.

Long ago we were the first nation to propose this and the Soviet Union defeated us. But as the years go by we see more and more clearly that the original plan was the one and only way by which the world can be safeguarded from destruction.

I think it would be well to go back over the whole proceedings of the Baruch Committee and see if we could not now come to some decisions that would go further than anything now proposed, with our goal to put the control of this dangerous weapon into the hands of the U.N.

This would mean that the U.N. must be strengthened, not weakened.

President de Gaulle may hope that he can reconstitute it in a better way and bend it to his purpose, but no one nation should attempt to do this. I think this is the test of whether we are international-minded or still closed in in our pride as individual nations.

Rightfully none of us, large or small, want interference in our internal affairs, but the world has become too complicated and too interdependent to allow questions which can mean complete destruction to be in the hands of any one of us.

The only safeguard is the U.N. and I wish world statesmen, such as President de Gaulle, would think this matter over very carefully.

E. R.

(Copyright, 1961, 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, April 14, 1961

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.