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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. Claire D. Wilson is president of Vernon Oil and Gas Company, a small, independent oil-producing concern. He started in the oil business shortly after the First World War, during which he served with the Navy. Mr. Wilson lists his hobbies as grandchildren, gardening and geology. Here is his creed.
"All is well, now and a thousand years hence. There is nothing more certain and solid than this." These words, written by the English poet and scientist Edward Carpenter, have meant a great deal to me since I first read them several years ago.
On occasions when the outlook is particularly dark--when news of wars and hate and greed make it appear that man's inhumanity to man is increasing rather than diminishing--I think of those words, "all is well," and immediately, I see things in their proper perspective. I realize that God is still in His heaven, and that I must take a long range view of conditions and events.
Another quotation, which I recall almost daily, is from the pen of Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr: "God, grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." I know from experience that in time of great sorrow, as in the loss of a loved one, there comes a
strength from outside I did not know was there. So I believe God does grant serenity when it is most needed or at least make the acceptance of a fact we can't change more bearable.
Of the many things needing changing, there is one thing that I alone can change: that is me. I believe that it is the duty of every person to develop his character to the highest degree possible, to grow--mentally and spiritually. Indeed, it seems to me that any progress mankind may make must start with individuals, for communities and nations can be no better than the individuals who compose them.
Granted character building or self-improvement to be a duty, I believe, nevertheless, our altruism--and our
desire to leave the world a little better place for our having lived--springs from a loftier motive than mere duty. It seems to me this urge to make the most of ourselves, without definite proof of reward, is one of the strongest intimations of immortality.
It is comforting to know in the autumn years, while erosion is taking its toll of the body, that it is possible for the mind and soul to keep on growing and improving up to the very last breath. I like the story of an old gentleman in his nineties, who daily read from a book written in Greek. Asked the reason, the old man seemed surprised and replied, "to improve my mind."
Each of us must cultivate his own little garden in his own way. What would make mine flourish might not help another. One of things I have found helpful--and I am a mere beginner--is to have a quiet half-hour to myself, each day. And once or twice each year, I go to the mountains, whence cometh my strength. If I have lost any faith in between trips, it is always renewed in the sight of the everlasting hills. And I have ceased to worry and be troubled about the "whys" and "wherefores," and fully accept the statement of George Santayana, that "man is not made to understand life but to live it."
There the beliefs of Claire D. Wilson, a Wichita, Kansas oilman who loves both the company of people and the thoughtful solitude.