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

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NEW YORK—We have all put a great deal of hope in the various proposals being made in Geneva for a nuclear test ban, but it seems to be impossible for the Soviet Union to agree on any reasonable inspection. And it is understandable that those who are responsible for the safety of their nations should wonder whether the Soviets are going on with their testing in secret while we remain static.

The most recent note sent to the Soviets clearly indicates that without some agreement the rest of the world will be forced to take up testing again. As most everyone knows, testing above ground is most easily discernible, and underground testing above a certain force also is detectable, but the mere fact that on this very simple point we could get no agreement is a very discouraging development.

But now in the preliminary talks that could lead to a resumption of the general disarmament negotiations that were broken off by the Communists a year ago, Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Valerian A. Zorin is expected to suggest that the stalemated test ban talks in Geneva be included in the general disarmament discussions. If we cannot get agreement on the one small phase, however, how can we hope to be able to find agreement on any of the big things?

When Premier Khrushchev sets a deadline on the decision on Berlin he is really resuming the arms race and turning the minds of all of us to how to prepare for an eventual war rather than to any preparation for peace. This is a very discouraging development.

Sen. Mike Mansfield of Montana has made the suggestion that Berlin should be declared a free city. But that would mean the acceptance of the Soviet thesis of two Germanys, and the German people in West Germany almost surely are not prepared for such acceptance. So it looks to me today as though the world is on the verge of a more confused period and a more anxious one than we have had in some time. Instead of more understanding there seems to be less understanding and a completely uncertain feeling grows among the people of our country at least.

Several people to whom I have talked since Mr. Khrushchev's recent speech to the Soviet Union have said to me how ominous it sounded. The one encouraging thing is that even though our people are troubled, I think they are becoming much more ready to face whatever the President may ask of them.

It was good to read that Ambassador Adlai Stevenson received the warmest welcome of his South American tour in Quito, Ecuador. That must have been a pleasant change for an American representative.

Much of the unrest in South America is not directed solely against the U.S. Part of it is against conditions that have been allowed to exist through their own governments. I think we have to accept the blame, however, for our own mistakes in the past.

We have not really given the most interested thought to the economy of the South American countries. We have let them do many things, it's true; but things that were remunerative for our businessmen and which did not mean a really good development for their own economy. No agricultural development that means a country becomes a one-crop country is really safe. We found that out in our own South when it depended entirely on cotton.

Coffee at times has been a very lucrative crop in South America, but if coffee is the only product and something goes wrong with that, you are in trouble.

We have not given the example of being concerned when we were engaged in international business ventures with the conditions under which the workers lived. We have often exploited instead of improved these conditions and this is something we cannot continue to do. A percentage of all profits should go into improving housing, schools and medical care for those who work for us anywhere in the world. This is the best way we have to show that democracy has a real interest in the well-being of people and that the purpose of all our activities is not solely the desire to make money but is also to see that people on every level of society have a better life.

The Soviets stress the importance of the worker and the improvement of his conditions. We stress the importance and the value of every human personality, and that should include workers in all fields. The Soviets stress the dignity of manual labor, but the big rewards go to those who work in the arts and sciences.

We must show that there is more real respect for the human being and a better reward for all under a democratic system than under a Communistic one. Our own understanding of the value of democracy must be made clear to the people of the countries with whom we have economic, cultural and spiritual ties. Otherwise, it is easy to understand why, instead of closer cooperation—even in our own hemisphere—we get more distrust and more blame for the bad conditions under which many of the people have lived and are living.

E. R.

(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 21, 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.