This I Believe
Chyz, Yaroslav J., 1894-1958
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And now, This I Believe, the living philosophies of thoughtful men and women, presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. What happens to the philosophy of a man transplanted from one continent, one culture to another? Yaroslav Chyz was born a Ukrainian in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He went to school in Prague. He came to the United States 30 years ago, and for 17 years, edited Narodna volya, a Ukrainian newspaper published in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Now he works for the Common Council for American Unity, as its Associate Director. His job is to interpret America to newcomers from Europe, through newspapers in their native tongue. Now he does a
job of personal interpretation, his own creed.
It is not easy for me to list intelligently my beliefs, especially those by which I abide in my private and public life. They range from abstract ideas about posthumous life and the origin of the universe, through general principles about the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, down to small rules of everyday behavior. They change constantly with changes of external circumstances and situations, individual moods, states of mind, economic pressures and releases, and with the state of health. They inevitably include a varying amount of compromise between the ideal and reality.
With all these limitations and qualifications, I can say, for example, that I believe in not releasing a swinging door without making sure that it won’t hit someone who follows me; that I usually give precedence or make way for the person carrying a burden; that I usually cede my seat to an older or disabled person, regardless of sex and color, or to an expectant mother. I try not to be late for my appointments, to keep my promises, to remember that binding obligations are undertaken not only by spoken or written word but also by action. It is because of these that I prefer to disappoint people by not taking on some obligations than by not fulfilling them.
What is the principle behind this course of behavior? Probably the old maxim that one should not do unto his neighbor what he does not want done unto himself. It may sound egoistic but it seems to be a sound rule of give and take. In fact, this egoistic principle may underlie my belief that people should not be forced to do or to endure things they don’t want to do or endure. It does not mean that everybody should be allowed to do as he pleases. One cannot claim the rights for himself without conceding equal rights to others. Projecting this belief into community life, it seems to me, that the minority must conform to the will of the majority. Though, at the same time, I believe that the majority must always take into fullest account the needs and the wishes of all minorities, including the smallest of them, the individual.
In the broader political aspect, I believe in the right of every people or nationality to live, as it was so well defined by the Ukrainian sage, Mykol Drohomadov, “according to their own will on their own soil.” In general, I believe that I can avoid many tensions, soften many hatreds, and strengthen many friendships by exercising total restraint of the spoken and written word and using understatements rather than exaggerations; the more so, that it is so difficult to strike the most desirable, but so elusive, medium: the truth.
That was Yaroslav J. Chyz, journalist and American by adoption. He was one of the first Ukrainian intellectuals to come to this country after World War I, and he now lives in Elmhurst, Long Island.