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This Troubled World

Eleanor Roosevelt

213 pages
Library of Alexandria
The newspapers these days are becoming more and more painful. I was reading my morning papers on the train not so long ago, and looked up with a feeling of desperation. Up and down the car people were reading, yet no one seemed excited. To me the whole situation seems intolerable. We face today a world filled with suspicion and hatred. We look at Europe and see a civil war going on, with other nations participating not only as individual volunteers, but obviously with the help and approval of their governments. We look at the Far East and see two nations, technically not at war, killing each other in great numbers. Every nation is watching the others on its borders, analyzing its own needs and striving to attain its ends with little consideration for the needs of its neighbors. Few people are sitting down dispassionately to go over the whole situation in an attempt to determine what present conditions are, or how they should be met. We know, for instance, that certain nations today need to expand because their populations have increased. Certain people will tell you that the solution of this whole question lies in the acceptance or rejection of birth control. That may be the solution for the future, but we can do nothing in that way about the populations that now exist. They are on this earth, and modern science has left us only a few places where famine or flood or disease can wipe out large numbers of superfluous people in one fell swoop. For this reason certain nations need additional territory to which part of their present populations may be moved; other nations need more land on which to grow necessary raw materials; or perhaps they may need mineral deposits which are not to be found in their own country. You will say that these can be had by trade. Yes, but the nations possessing them will frequently make the cost too high to the nations which need them. It is not a question today of the “free” interchange of goods. If standards of living were approximately the same, throughout the world, competition would be on an equal basis and then there might be no need for tariffs. However, standards of living vary. The nations with higher standards have set up protective barriers which served them well when they were self-contained, but not so well when they reached a point where they either wished to import or export. When you take all these things into consideration, the size of this problem is apt to make you feel that even an attempt to solve it in the future by education is futile. Faint heart, however, ne’er won fair lady, nor did it ever solve world problems! Peace plan after peace plan has been presented to me; most of them, I find, are impractical, or not very carefully thought out. In nearly all of them some one can find a flaw. I have come to look at them now without the slightest hope of finding one full-fledged plan, but I keep on looking in the hope of finding here and there some small suggestion that may be acceptable to enough people to insure an honest effort being made to study it and evaluate its possible benefits.