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

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PARIS, Wednesday .—To go on with the reflections that came to me on the meeting I attended in Brussels on Saturday and Sunday, I think I should say that the membership of the group was highly intellectual. It was composed of university professors, teachers, ministers of many faiths, philosophers and representatives of such religious groups as Bahai.

I think Europe is a more fertile ground than the United States for this type of intellectual and spiritual research. The organizers of this group, I think, feel that the intellectual approach is not a good one; that it must be a purely spiritual approach on the part of the individual. But there were certainly a great many people at these meetings who could not divest themselves of their intellectual capacities.

The one thing that I would fear is that people who become enthusiasts are apt to see in everything that happens to them a corroboration of the things which they wish to believe. To be sure, therefore, that you are not imagining something because you wish it to be true is very difficult.

For instance, if I desire guidance in a difficult decision, and I have done everything possible to prepare myself to receive guidance, might it not be possible that subconsciously I would accept what was my own desire rather than any direct communication from God? Take another instance: if someone were not completely honest, or even if they fooled themselves because they had a desire to do something or not to do it, they could hide behind a feeling of guidance which really was only an expression of their own desire.

Again it seems to me that there is the chance that we were given our intelligence and our gifts as a part of God's plan, and it might well be that each and everyone of us should develop our faculties to the best of our ability; that we should seek information from others. In fact, we should explore all avenues that would help us to meet our own problems.

This is not saying that we would feel able to decide without God's help. But the deep religious feeling of many people will not, of necessity, mean that on each action that they take they feel direct guidance from God. Rather, it may mean that what they have learned and the effort they have made to live, if they are Christians, according to Christ's teachings, will have so molded their characters that unconsciously they will do the Lord's will. These people may need contact with their churches and they may not have exactly the type of guidance that the organizers of this movement feels essential.

I think I believe that the Lord looks upon his children with compassion and allows them to approach him in many ways. I am glad to have had the opportunity of association with the group at Brussels—it was a rare privilege—and it is a wonderful thing in these times to feel that people are devoting themselves to the growth of spiritual strength and capacity. But I do not think that anyone can feel that there is only one way, since what may meet someone's needs may not of necessity meet another's needs. And one must even beware of too much certainty that the answers to life's problems can only be found in one way and that all must agree to search for light in the same way and cannot find it in any other way.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 22, 1951

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.