My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Monday—Probably the best thing that Russia has done is to get her various races to treat each other as equals. From one end of her far-flung empire to the other, she has succeeded in creating a union of totally different types of people.

Each group is an independent republic, and when its citizens leave their own area, they stand as equals with the citizens of any other part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That is a very great achievement, so we must not be surprised when, in their relations with other nations, the Russians stress the value of wiping out racial discrimination.

For many of them, perhaps for the great majority, conditions are vastly better than they were under the Tsars. In some of the countries along the Russian borders, they find conditions much worse than any which they now have to endure. In others, they find an advance beyond their own. But when they look back over the last 25 years, they realize that the opportunities for their young people have been very great in this short period, and that strengthens their hope for the future.

Someone told me that one often heard a slogan in Russia: "It will be better." If the people say that and believe it, they cannot be discouraged.

* * *

Even when we realize that Russia has a large number of men in her army, that her people are back of their government, that they are young and strong and vital, that they have some very fine scientists, engineers, and experts in every field, still we do not need to be afraid of them. We can be just as strong, vital and unified if we will stop running away from the world situation as it is today and accept all our responsibilities. Russia has not accomplished in 25 years many of the things that we have achieved in 150 years.

When we were young and weak, we bragged a good deal, we were a bit aggressive, we insisted that we would be sufficient unto ourselves and that we would have nothing to do with the problems or responsibilities of other parts of the world. Now there is no need for bragging or for aggressiveness, but there is need for an understanding of our situation in the world.

We have known some shortages here, but we have known no hunger. We can assume a great role in feeding the world, as well as in providing manufactured goods. These are material obligations which will bring us economic returns in prosperity. But there is another great obligation, the obligation of spiritual leadership, which we must also assume.

If we are to become a great people, with concern for other people, we must face the needs of our own people and see to it that our form of government meets those needs. This requires spiritual leadership at home, and unless we achieve it, we cannot offer the kind of spiritual and economic leadership to the world which will be convincing of our worth.

Other nations do not believe in our good intentions today because our shortcomings very often obscure our achievements. Our domestic actions are tied very closely to the success of our foreign policy, and we must reach a point at home and abroad where people will not say, "What is the foreign policy of the United States?"

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL