The UN, one of the great disappointments over the past seventy years, was born today, with the signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco. The column below by Eleanor Roosevelt demonstrates the hope, and soft-headedness, with which most Americans looked at the UN at its birth:
HYDE PARK, Monday—On Sunday in church, the minister preached on the theme: “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” I could not help but think that the representatives who have been working on the charter out in San Francisco have labored to bring forth something which will prepare the way for that “kingdom of God on earth” which we poor, faulty human beings have been so long awaiting.
There can be no kingdom of God on earth as long as men hate each other, settling their difficulties through wars and bringing sorrow and suffering on other men. Once you begin a war there is, of course, nothing to do but to fight it to the end; so the effort for peace must be made while the nations are at peace.
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These men in San Francisco have managed to do a rather remarkable job. This charter is more concerned with human rights than many of us dared hope would be possible. Now it will go to the various governments of the United Nations for ratification. The sooner that is done, the better it will be.
I have seen certain arguments which favor long debate and long consideration. That seems to me entirely unnecessary. The debate should be over. The peoples of the world can very quickly be acquainted with what is in the charter; and though the governments may not think so, the people of the world are not concerned with too many details. They are willing to give up a good deal of what usually is called national rights to help prepare “the way of the Lord.” I do not think they will be very patient this time with men who bring up minor points not because those points are important, but because they are afraid of real cooperation among the nations.
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I know very well that there are dangers in cooperation, but I know, too, what the dangers are when you have no cooperation. That has been made clear to many, many families in this country and throughout the world. I think I speak for the average man and woman when I say that we might as well take a chance and try something new, having faith in our fellow men because they have suffered just as we have suffered and must want peace as much as we do.
I don’t believe that greed and selfishness have gone out of the human race. I am quite prepared to be considerably disappointed many times in the course of cooperation. I shall probably be disappointed in myself as much as in other people, but I want to try for a peaceful world. The ratification of the charter as soon as possible, in compliance with President Truman’s wishes, will, I think, make easier every step we take in the future. It will inspire our people to prepare for the real work of building understanding and peace throughout the world.
Hope so often shades into self delusion in human affairs.