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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Here are the views of a busy businessman, who still has time and energy for hospitals and orphans and general welfare work. George B. Beitzel, president of the Pennsylvania Salt Company, chemical manufacturers.
The other day, a friend and I were discussing the general state of affairs. We both agreed that our generation cannot be very happy or proud about the world we will pass along to our successors. My friend asked me what I thought was wrong, and I answered something to the effect that in every walk of life, we needed to return to Christian principles. He interrupted me. He said that was a "perfectly respectable statement," but it "didn't mean a thing," unless I could explain it in terms of my own, personal experience.
He thought one of the main reasons people are so troubled and so cynical today about what we might call the "spiritual values of life," is that in church and in school and in business--everywhere--we do a lot of pious talking about things like brotherly love and teamwork and fair play, and let it go at that. We don't follow through on all the way that we live or behave or even think. We quote the Bible. We repeat the wisdom of some favorite philosopher, with the guilty, foolish hope that in some magic way the words themselves will fix everything.
I had to admit to my friend that he was right, and I began to wonder about what I believed in and why I'd believed in it in terms of my own life. The answer that emerged was neither very unusual nor very profound. It is, simply, that I believe in God and in the
application of the Golden Rule. Now obviously, one reason for such an answer is that my parents taught me to believe these things, and I accepted them, first, because they said I should. But today, as a supposedly mature adult, my reason and my experience tell me that they are both fundamental and sound.
I can say that I believe that only in the operation of Christian principles will the world really get together, but that is a hollow, pompous phrase unless I reduce it to my own personal level and say, I believe individuals have to learn to get along with each other, first, because nations are made up of individuals, and one of them is myself. This is very important. It means that my own thoughts, my own behavior, are not inconsequential. They have an impact on the people I know, come in contact with, and they react on others in a widening circle, like the ripples from a pebble thrown into a pool. Yet, I must not get a distorted idea of my own importance.
It has worried me that in this great, rich country of ours, it is so easy for us to become smug and forget the attention to personal and spiritual values. With all the things we have, we get to feeling pretty secure, that nothing much matters but ourselves. Most of us, or more of us than ever before, have jobs and food on the shelves and money in the bank; and, thus, we say, "So what." I think we need more humility. I think we need to be reminded that individually and collectively, we are just mortals, that only as we live Christian lives do we really contribute to the welfare of the world. These are not new thoughts. I think it is time for men to make some positive statements, not only to others but to themselves.
I'm a businessman, not a minister. Perhaps I express myself in these matters rather clumsily, but I am sincere. I know that we can never have Christianity operating an effective force among nations unless it is first applied to the relationship of individuals. I believe it is time for me to acknowledge, to and for myself, that God is the Lord, to rediscover my personal relationship with him. I must try in my daily life to live and practice the Golden Rule.
That was George B. Beitzel, a Philadelphia chemical manufacturer, who, his friends testify, gives service, and not lip service, to his beliefs and does not take his faith lightly.