My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK, Thursday— "Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace,
The soul that knows it now, knows no release,
From little things."

So wrote Amelia Earhart on 1934, and I am very sure when she made the decision to go on this last trip, she had in mind every possible risk. I don't suppose any of us ever really feel that we are about to die, even though we may know intellectually that death may be waiting around the corner in whatever we have undertaken to do. I am quite sure, however, that she met death in the spirit of the poem from which I have taken the above lines.

This attitude is one which we must never forget, for a nation is poor indeed when it does not have men and women with this kind of spirit.

Serious things are happening in the world today. Everyone must view with grave concern the parts of the world which are actually at war, but there are other trends which seem disturbing. The report, for instance, that in many countries scholars are being sent into exile for racial, religious and political reasons, in increasing numbers, is not pleasant reading. It means that more and more people are growing afraid to face differences of opinion and yet it is increasingly important that throughout the world differing opinions should be listened to and weighed by the people as a whole. Scholars approach questions of science and medicine, of teaching, of government, of philosophy or religion, from a different angle than do the people actively engaged in the work of the world. We can expect from scholars a more objective presentation of their ideas. They are the people who should give all sides of a question, so that the man in the street may read and weigh the various points of view before he makes up his own mind. Eliminate this group in any country and you narrow yourself down to receiving information from the people who are actually in the heat of the struggle. It seems to me that this must be bad for all nations, and that governments should think carefully before they allow this tendency to exile scholars from their native lands, to grow to any greater proportions than it has so far.

I notice that in a survey made in New York State of the drinking habits of young men and women, the most frequent answer to the question of why they drink at all is that: "Drinking makes one gayer and more interesting." I surmise that this is not really true. I think if the truth were told, young people who are leading normal lives are quite gay enough and interesting enough without any additional stimulus. Too many of them, however, during the last few years have led the kind of lives which mean that they are always tired and they turn to some kind of a stimulant to make it possible to go on. This to me, is one of the most dangerous things that young people can do. Sometimes it is their own fault, more often it is the fault of the conditions in which they find themselves. On the whole I think both young men and young women have learned greater temperance in the past few years, but I doubt if they have learned how insidious it can be to take a stimulant to overcome the fatigue arising from living under too great a nervous strain. Temperance in living is one of the things we need to learn quite as much as temperance in drinking,—the two are closely allied.

E.R.
TMsd 22 July 1937, AERP, FDRL