Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day: April 22-30

April 27, 1937

“HYDE PARK, Monday…I have been thinking a great deal about the peace meetings which young people held all over the country on the 22nd of April, and from the letters which I receive and the talks which I have had, there is no question in my mind that young people are definitely determined to do away with war, but they really are very indefinite as to the way in which it shall be done.

I often wonder if they realize that every new form of government, fascist, communist or our own democracy had originally for its purpose the making of a world in which people could be happy and content. As individuals, people felt helpless to accomplish their desires and so in different places they were led by different types of people to believe that these desires could be accomplished in different ways. To me the real strength of the democratic theory in opposition to the fascist or communist is that the fascist frankly states that certain people will tell other people what they shall do to be happy, and those other people have little or nothing to say about it.

In theory the communists were to do everything in common, in practice a small group there also tells other people what they shall do to achieve their objectives. So far more nearly than any other form of government, the democratic form has allowed people to shape their own government, and while people have arisen who have been more important leaders here and there, still on the whole the controls have been in the hands of the majority of the people. That, it seems to me, is more truly in keeping with the fundamental desires of the people who are groping for something which will give them a security from war and from want, and a chance to work out their little happinesses.

If these young people are going to really get anywhere, they must realize that inveighing against a thing is all very well, but their future success lies in controlling democracy. Only if democracy makes the individuals better able to attain their ideals will it survive the test of today. What the young people must do is to find out how their government can meet the demands of the people. Find out how business and invention and what we call modern civilization can bring a greater degree of freedom from fear of any kind, and therefore a greater degree of happiness to the average individual…”

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