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

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NEW YORK. Thursday—I have been thinking a great deal the last few days about this question of friends and enemies. Even in private life one of the most important things, after one's family relationship, is one's friends. Enemies have never seemed to me very important. They can only make life disagreeable for a time, but friends can be a daily joy and an unending one. Disagreeable things one tries to forget as soon as possible, but every kindly, friendly thing that happens in life remains a joyous memory and so becomes part of eternity.

In thinking about the friendship of the men at the heads of the various governments, I spoke yesterday only of the three representing the Soviet Union, Great Britain and ourselves. There is a fourth, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-chek. My husband had very little opportunity to be with the Generalissimo except for a few days in Cairo, but even in those few days I think the two men took measure of each other.

* * *

Madame Chiang told me the other day that the Generalissimo had looked forward with great pleasure some day to the opportunity of renewing their acquaintanceship and deepening their friendship. While good will and friendliness are vastly important to public men and to the world because of the results in public good, to most of us in our simpler lives, of course, what really counts is the friendship which translates itself into constant thought and expression of affection.

I have a relative who was brought up in a more Spartan age and who believes that the main object of friendship is to be entirely truthful about your friends' faults and failings! I decided long ago, however, that though it might be your sad lot on occasion to tell the people you love something disagreeable, it was far more in line with real friendship to tell them all the pleasant things about themselves and your common relationship.

* * *

My experience has been that it is never really necessary to worry that people will not be aware of the disagreeable traits they have or the wrong things they may do. There are plenty of people in the world who are not even enemies, but who just enjoy being malicious and who will impart these unhappy bits of information. It is the part of friendship to make life pleasanter, to keep one's word, to be available in joy or sorrow, to give of oneself and to express the love one feels. It seems to be so easy for many people to express their enmity and so difficult to express their pleasure or friendship.

In the era of speed in which we live, human relationships are easily overlooked. Yet I think they are more important today than they ever were, and it would do us good every now and then to contemplate our friends and always to forget our enemies.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 3, 1945

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.