My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK—This is the day when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev will arrive in our country. He is coming as the head of the Communist party, holder of the highest office in the Soviet Union government. He is here at the invitation of the President of the United States, and the President has asked us to treat him in a courteous and cordial manner.

This does not mean that we approve of communism, that we approve of actions taken either under Mr. Khrushchev's direction or under the direction of the Communist party government. Today this man symbolizes the head of a government under whose control a large number of people live, some of them willingly adhering to a Communist philosophy, others adhering because they have to. It also means that he is the predominating ally at present in the coalition with the Chinese Communist government. This adds up to control over a very great number of people.

We, on the other hand, are decidedly influential and possibly give predominant leadership to the areas of the world which are non-Communist. Outside of both these Communist and non-Communist areas there are large groups of people who are as yet neither Communist nor non-Communist. They are looking for help, many of them, in either obtaining freedom as nations or in strengthening freedom which they have obtained. Most of the people in all these areas of the world are hoping fervently that the two men who are to meet this week can begin to create an atmosphere in the world which will make it more possible to work for peaceful solutions of our problems.

It would be foolish to expect much more than this from this meeting and from the return visit which is to be paid by our President to the Soviet Union.

It is fairly obvious that if you want to change an atmosphere you must treat individuals with whom you are dealing in a manner which will not create antagonism. We admire physical and moral courage, and I think all of us will recognize that Mr. Khrushchev in coming here is showing the courage of his convictions and is willing to face physical risk. We want our President to be received with respect no matter what country he visits, and the people of the Soviet Union have already received our Vice-President with respect and even with warmth.

I have had a number of requests to act in a way which I feel would only bring about antagonism. I will not do this because I think it important that we talk over our difficulties and, if possible, avoid any kind of violence now and in the future.

I understand how difficult this will be for those who have suffered through the rise of Communist control in various nations. We are trying to prevent the spread of communism just as the Soviet Union is trying to bring it about. The best way to prevent the rise of communism, I believe, is to be very sure of our own aims and convictions.

The basis of these beliefs is our faith in God—a higher power which will give us poor humans the strength and the faith to meet any kind of threat. If we have this inner strength we will evidence a sense of power in our people which no one can fail to recognize, and we can show our desire for peace through warmth and a conviction that all human beings respond and recognize a sincere conviction and feeling.

Mr. Khrushchev is a representative of a great country and a people for whom we hold friendly feelings. If we think of him in that way we may be able perhaps to create the atmosphere which we hope will be helpful to our President in whatever negotiations can be undertaken.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL