My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Friday—Evidently Mr. Parish and I should have had a very disagreeable drive to Orange, New Jersey, Tuesday afternoon. We did have to make several detours and I was conscious of wind and rain and fallen trees, but I think Mr. Parish must have made a very entertaining companion, for it never occurred to me that we were doing anything very exciting. I was just driving in a high wind which gave my car a little shove now and then.

We had a very nice tea party yesterday afternoon at which I saw a good many acquaintances and friends whom I had not seen for a long while. Late in the afternoon Mrs. Everett Colby came in. She is doing a very interesting piece of work in a county position where she inspects institutions in the county. I understand that she has proved herself a very satisfactory public servant. It always interests me to find women doing good work in positions of this kind, which were formerly considered only suitable for men.

I read a most interesting short book by Thomas Mann the night before last, called: "The Coming Victory of Democracy." When I finished it, I felt that I would give a great deal to be able to talk to him. I feel sure that he feels as I do, that the World War and the attempts which we made at permanent settlements really left us with the seeds of the present complicated international situation. Because it seems difficult to make humanity rise to certain heights except in crises, nothing very much has been done up to now to correct the injustices that are, I think, inevitable after any bitter conflict.

Now, too late perhaps, we are conscious of this need when the world is faced again with the alternative of using force and building the same bitterness that we built up before, or else of allowing those nations which believe exclusively in force, to have everything their own way. Thomas Mann seems to imply at times that force must be met with force, but that is what we have been doing from generation to generation. As we look back over history it seems as though there has always been one great controlling nation which really directed the rest of the world and allowed the others to have a certain amount of power. The controlling nation has shifted from time to time, and, perhaps, at the moment we are watching another shift.

It is very difficult for me to think this situation through. If we decide again that force must be met with force, then is it the moral right for any group of people who believe that certain ideas must triumph to hold back from the conflict? Thomas Mann's book certainly does put certain questions before us in a way which stirs our consciences and makes American people feel the necessity of thinking through the fundamentals of their beliefs and policies.

I spent the day in New York City and then drove back to Hyde Park in the late afternoon.