SEPTEMBER 10, 1947
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—Last night I read a magazine article by Rep. Helen Gahagan Douglas of California. She expresses her thoughts delightfully and her charming personality projects itself through her words, but she does not really quite face the problem she is trying to state.
In her last paragraph, she says: "If you tell me there are obstacles in the way of your ambition that make it impossible to pursue it, then I know it is not a real ambition." What she has tried to say is that if we women really want to have an influence on the world, we can have it. She feels that we can take an active part in politics and that we can have careers if we want to enough.
And she thinks that the closed mind which does not see the need of keeping America democratic and progressive is the most dangerous thing we face today. The article is stimulating, and I think it will help many women to keep down "mental myopia"—which is a nice little phrase, easy to remember and therefore useful.
However, the real depth of the question is this—the vast majority of women in this country, as in other countries, are married and bringing up children, doing the housework physically and mentally all by themselves, sometimes also helping a man in his business, which may be anything from a profession to a store or a farm. There are only twenty-four hours in a day and one individual has only so much physical endurance.
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This group of women makes up the mass of those on whom all progress really depends. They are not going to have outside careers; they are not going to touch politics on the policymaking level or even on the organizational level. But if they keep from "mental myopia," they will do certain important things. They will form the thinking of their communities. They will guard our freedoms on the community level.
They will understand democracy at the roots and they will be one of the cells that build the health and strength of a nation. It is here in the everyday living of the small community that "mental myopia" springs up most easily, and it is here that women in particular can do a job of eliminating it.
The work that the vast majority of housewives and mothers can do is the work at home, in their church contacts, in their school interests, and in their recreational activities. The moral and spiritual questions that face a nation are to be found also facing the individuals of every community. Out of the acorn, the great oak grows!