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

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NEW YORK.—I know that some people felt it would be a waste of time to stay up on New Year's Eve to greet a year that would be much like the one that has just passed and perhaps could only bring more anxiety and fear instead of hope.

In this regard, however, I saw one little criticism of us in a newspaper the other day that I felt might be a key to hope that the new year could be a better one than the one we have just lived through.

The writer said that the real trouble with our country at present is that the American people have lost confidence in themselves.

He noted that from our earliest days we have always been sure we could surmount the difficulties surrounding us. A man would set out to explore the wilderness and feel perfectly sure that he could meet the Indians or the forces of nature and come out successfully with a mission accomplished.

It is more difficult perhaps today in our complex world to feel sure of the future and the individual's capacity to cope with it. Nevertheless, it is certainly possible to make up one's mind as to certain lines of thought and action that one will follow that could help us to build the confidence we need to live in the world of today.

For instance, we can feel it is probable that other people are as anxious as we are to avoid all-out nuclear war. And that being the case, we may hope that when the chips are down they will act as reasonably as we hope to act. Granted that it does require diplomacy and tact and great patience for people of different races to get on together, still I think there is hope that all people are growing in maturity and in understanding on how to achieve the results that are needed if we are to keep our world at peace.

Curiously enough, one of the important things for us to understand, I think, is that our success in meeting our home problems has a great bearing on our approach to our foreign policy. It is true that we have a department to deal with foreign affairs and a number of departments to deal with our domestic affairs, but the manner in which we meet our problems at home has a very definite influence on our position in the world as a whole.

In this respect, if our economy remains strong and we are able to solve the problem of our depressed areas, to face the problem of automation, to make a real study in depth of what these new discoveries mean in our economy, and to face the major changes that we may find necessary—if we are able to do these things we bring hope and courage to other peoples to explore new situations in their countries.

The way I see it the solution to the problem of fewer jobs because of automation is not to reduce the work day or the work week. The solution lies in exploring new production and full production.

We know now that there is no need for a man to work the number of hours that were necessary in the past to produce the very limited amount he needed for existence. We know now that if we follow the best rules for health and production we can still produce what is needed in much less time. Therefore, we should use our education to give all people the chance of using and enjoying more leisure time. To simply reduce the working hours and days because there are not enough jobs to go around is not giving people a sense of usefulness and confidence or being needed in the world of today.

We used to put all our ingenuity into developing new mechanical devices so that with a higher standard of living we could still meet the challenge of lower wages in other parts of the world. This seems to be one of the things we no longer try to do. Our ingenuity and ability should go into discovering new ways of meeting the future and into new ways of thinking out the problems to be met in the modern world and to finding new solutions.


(Copyright, 1962, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 3, 1962

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.