Eleanor Roosevelt was the first Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Her work, with her colleagues, led to the adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The following, according to her son, is a prayer that she said every night:
Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life.
Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to Thee for strength.
Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pitying; make us sure of the good we cannot see and of the hidden good in the world.
Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them.
Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of the world made new.
The last line of the prayer inspired the title Mary Ann Glendon’ book A World Made New – Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Eleanor Roosevelt’s prayer appears in the frontispiece of the book which tells the story of how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written and the contribution that Eleanor Roosevelt made to that process. Although she was not directly engaged in writing the declaration, as Chair of of the UN Human Rights Commission, Eleanor Roosevelt’s leadership ensured the Commission succeeded in creating the declaration.