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

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New York City, Wednesday—Last evening I spent a most interesting time talking with a group of people who are closely following world and domestic events from day to day. One man said something which seemed to me very extraordinary, and yet I have heard it said by many people. I begin to wonder if it is one of the things that come partly from our background, which has given us a sense of isolation from the world, or whether it is a thought being subtly suggested to us by people who would like to confuse our thinking.

The statement runs something like this: "There is much talk today about the need for mobilization, but I have never heard stated, to my satisfaction, what we are mobilizing against."

It seems very clear to me that we are mobilizing against a force represented by Germany, Russia, Italy and Japan, a force which believes in the domination by the state of the individual, which has, in fact, very little consideration for the individual; allows for no personal liberties or preferences; tells the individual what religion to practise and sets the state up as a religion.

This force orders the daily way of life for everyone, and when it decides to go to war, sacrifices human beings with apparent indifference. Under this system the production of human beings becomes after all a business like any other, ordered by the government, so the sacrifice of human lives is just a matter of judgment whether the objectives to be attained are worth what you have to pay for them, and you calculate as coldly about human lives as you do about other war materials.

That is the force and the system, yes, the philosophy that we are mobilizing against. From the economic and moral standpoint, he who runs may read the necessity of this mobilization. The military needs may not be quite so clear to all of us, but I have a feeling that with the background of what we have seen happen to other nations, there is one thing which every mother can think about.

The bully rarely attacks where he thinks he is going to be beaten. We women want peace, we do not wish to see our sons go to war. I believe our greatest safety lies in having our nation ready. The men must be trained to the highest efficiency, and so well equipped with all the modern mechanisms of war that the strongest among the powers of the world will think the price too high.

There is undoubtedly need for discussion as to just what type and degree of military preparation we shall have, and how we should achieve it. But we should not let any idea get abroad that we do not understand what we are mobilizing for, and above all, it must be clear that we are ready and willing to mobilize.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 29, 1940

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
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.