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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. One of the English music world’s most distinguished figures is Sir Steuart Wilson. As deputy general administrator of the Royal Opera House and Covent Garden, he holds special responsibility for development of Britain’s most important opera company. No stranger to the concert platform, he was, in his day, a leading tenor. This is Sir Steuart Wilson’s creed.
I am one of those many people who can no longer say with complete confidence, ”I believe.” And
the words must be in quotes in the sort of way that belief is implied in the creeds of the Christian churches or in the statements and affirmations of non-Christian religion. But among those people like me, many are deeply religious by nature, in so far as they feel that they can accept the idealism and the social philosophy—if one may use such a word—which the teaching of Christ and other great idealists contained, while they find it impossible to belong to any close corporation which excludes others who think slightly differently about administrative church matters; while they have overlooked the two things that should be a human bond between us all, namely: Do you care for truth above all things; and, Will you never do unto others that which you would not wish others to do unto you?
If you really care for truth passionately, you will have a mind that is perpetually inquiring and alert, a mind that is unable to hold strong convictions without examining their truth. And to examine is not the same as to repeat the same identical statements over and over again. Now, if you care for other people as you care for yourself, you will simply have to act, not just look for truth. And when you have made up your mind that something ought be done—and how often have we said that —you must put forward some very good reason indeed why it should not be you that does it. The great saints felt like that. How else can you explain St. Francis and Ignatius, on the one plane; General Booth of the Salvation Army; or the abolitionists, on another plane? They felt a burning sense of duty to prevent
the doing unto others of that which they would never, in any circumstances, wish or indeed allow others to do unto them, and they could not rest quiet until they had done something.
Truth does not live at the bottom of a well. Truth is much more like the sleeping beauty surrounded by a high quickset hedge. Truth has to be fought for by a living person as a virtue which must be brought back to life by personal struggles. And surely it’s this fighting which gives us the right to hold the truth and, equally, the credit in maintaining it. The purpose of life can be said to consist, in two words: truth and love. How can we attain any objective so grand, so remote, as these? Let me quote the obstinate, determined, pugnacious, visionary thinker, John Bunyan.
Christian, the pilgrim of Pilgrim’s Progress, is seeking information from Evangelist as to how to find the way to the celestial city and to escape from the city of destruction. And this is the dialogue:
Do you see yonder wicket-gate?
Do you see yonder shining light?
Keep this light in your eye, and go up thereto.
There the beliefs of Sir Steuart Wilson, of Britain, who has worked tirelessly for an improvement in the public’s musical taste.