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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. T. Coleman Andrews, a Virginian, started work as an office boy at the age of fifteen. Six years later, he founded the T. Coleman Andrews and Company of Certified Public Accountants. He is an active member of his profession, but he finds time to be of service to his community of Richmond as well. Here now the creed of T. Coleman Andrews.
I believe as a matter of fundamental conviction that my life is not my own, that life is of divine origin and was given to me as a sacred trust, to be lived with honor to Him by whom it was given, with the fullest possible usefulness to my fellow men, my community, my state, and my country, and with credit to myself, my family, and my profession.
This belief implies acceptance of indivisible, personal responsibility for my conduct. It also imposes the obligation to make the most of myself. Further, it opens the door to usefulness to others, which is of paramount importance; for no man can do full justice to himself except to the extent that he helps others to do the same.
I am an accountant. I do not think that I would have gotten very far in my profession if I had not decided early in my career that regardless of how good an accountant I might become, my success necessarily would be largely in proportion to the growth of the accounting profession. So I made up my mind at the start that it was up to me to help my profession grow, and I have striven earnestly to remain true to that determination.
This philosophy of personal responsibility and usefulness imposes rigid disciplines, not the least of which is that of having frequently to choose between the prestige of respect and the glamour of popularity.
A whole new profession, so called, has sprung up to tell me that I am doomed to failure and frustration if I do not seek and achieve influence through popularity. God forbid. What a world this would be if everybody in it were mere backslapping "yes men."
God entrusted man, alone, with mental power sufficient to penetrate and solve the mysteries of life. With this power, man has multiplied the span of his life, mastered the sea and the air and the elements, discovered the secret of the atom, annihilated distance, and now stands upon the threshold of interplanetary communication.
This gift carries with it not only the right, but also the duty to challenge the thoughts and ideas of others and to seek truth, safe in the assurance that straight-thinking and forthrightness will have the reward of respect, though expediency often may suggest fruitless silence or compromise.
If I let false doctrine go unchallenged and seek only popularity, hoping thereby to enhance or protect my selfish interests, I not only delude myself but also condemn myself in the sight of God and my fellow man. What I seek to protect is certain to be lost in time, and I will stand, if not condemned as a drone, then certainly forgotten in mankind’s inexorable progress towards his ultimate achievement of complete fullness of life.
And so, this too I believe: that we must turn again to the Giver of Life and re-assume our obligation of personal responsibility and usefulness, lest we suffer the catastrophic consequences of lost faith that William Penn foresaw when he warned, that "People who are not governed by God will be ruled by tyrants."
Those were the beliefs of T. Coleman Andrews, who lives with his wife and two sons in Richmond, Virginia. Listening to him, one senses he has come to grips with the meaning of personal responsibility and usefulness to others as well as to himself.