This I Believe

White, Goodrich C. (Goodrich Cook)

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Goodrich White describes the death of his son, and the immense grief of his wife, and his subsquent struggle with doubt and ultimate belief in God and life after death.

UncertaintyReligious aspects
Parental grief
United States
Atlanta (Ga.)
Emory University
Permanent URL
ID: tufts:MS025.006.007.00003.00004
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. Goodrich C. White has been president of Emory University in Georgia for eleven years, after a life devoted to teaching. Psychology was his subject. Like so many others, he has faced inner crises, some due to doubts and frustrations, some to great personal loss. Here is how this ernest and aware man sums up his beliefs.
It has helped me at critical times to be able to say about some things, "This I believe." It has helped too--and no less importantly, I think--in the business of everyday living, with its little problems and frustrations and defeats, and its minor achievements and satisfactions.
Twice in my experience, life has seemed to come to a dead end, not so much because of external circumstance as because of inward difficulty. In these times, my faith in some of the great fundamentals provided anchors to windward, and these anchors held--though there was uncertainty for me at times that they would. And the seeming dead end in each case proved, in the outcome, to be an open road to greater opportunity.
And once I have suffered tragic loss. My eldest son and namesake was killed in combat during World War II. When this blow came, I watched my wife struggle with such devastating grief that I thought for a time I would lose her too. But I could help little in her struggle. Her serene confidence in life's
goodness had been shattered. And I could not just handle the whatever of faith I may have had to another, however close and dear. She did win through to something that even yet I cannot fully share. A faith that is beautiful and sure and sustaining.
This then I believe: There must be meaning and purpose in human life--in the individual personality, in human history, in the world of our experience, in the universe of which it is a part. I believe in the supreme value of the person. And personality must be the product of a universe in which personality is the ultimate fact--this super-personal explanation of the universe we call "God." And so, I believe in God.
For me, too, there can be no ultimate meaning and value in human living if death is the end, or in human history if its final outcome is dust and ashes. I believe, therefore, in the survival of human personality after what we call death. Just how this survival is possible, just what the nature of life after death is, I do not know nor try to conceive. But that it must be, this I believe.
When the simple unquestioning piety that was a part of the atmosphere of my childhood proved for me inadequate, I had to fight through doubt and uncertainty to a belief in some of the great fundamentals. I know that to these beliefs, I turn daily in the midst of routine demands. I turn to them with a still greater sense of need when larger issues are for me at stake.
That the great fundamentals cannot be proved, I must concede. I believe them because I must. But this is not to concede that they are unreasonable. And for me, life cannot make sense without belief in the supreme worth of human personality, in God, and in human personality's survival after death.
That was the sensitive and considered statement of Dr. Goodrich C. White, president of Emory University in Georgia.