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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. Bankers are associated so exclusively with money that sometimes we get the mistaken idea that nothing else counts in their lives. The example of Frank M. Totton could help correct that impression. He is a vice president of the Chase National Bank, but this banker’s hours are filled with much work for values which cannot be measured in dollars and cents. He is president of New York City’s YMCA. He raises funds for Negro colleges. He is an active churchman and Mason. The reasons for all of Frank Totton’s activities—listen to his beliefs.
Some years ago in New England, a little girl named Laura Bridgman, when she was only 2 years of age, was stricken with a mysterious malady, which left her deaf, dumb, and blind. A doctor, Samuel G. Howe, heard of her pathetic condition, and thought he would endeavor to break through her prison house of darkness. He tried an experiment: by placing her fingertips on his lips and reading to her for fifteen minutes every day at a certain time, for ten consecutive days. At the end of ten days, he stopped to see if she would show any signs of awareness. For several days, she didn’t.
And then one day, just at that time, she showed signs of irritability and annoyance and frustration. That was the first great step. Then Dr. Howe knew that he had broken through. From that time on, her
progress was rapid and encouraging. She eventually became an intelligent and educated woman. But the first great step in her progress was when the thought was born in upon her that someone was trying to tell her something and to make her understand.
Many of us with fewer handicaps than Laura Bridgman have looked out upon this world with its hatreds, bloodshed, lust, and greed, and have thought: There is no meaning to all this. And then suddenly one day, through some human or divine contact, we have seen the light and there has been born in upon us the thought that there is a meaning to all this, that someone is trying to tell us something and to make us understand.
When I left my home in the West years ago to come east to college, my mother gave me a Bible in which she inscribed these words: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” I have endeavored to do just that and the contract has been kept, the promise has been abundantly fulfilled. My religious belief is embodied in the statement of the great teacher of long ago, who uttered these prophetic words: “Greater works than these shall ye do if ye only believe.” Greater? Greater than what? Believe? Believe what?
This is a realistic age, an age that wants to know, an age that asks questions. But Jesus the Christ,
who was not only the world’s greatest idealist but also the world’s greatest realist, unequivocally promises greater works. And today, we see his prophecy increasingly fulfilled in many lines of human endeavor: in science, in industry, in the field of social relations, and in spiritual endeavor.
So Jesus has rightly said, greater works are possible, if we only believe. Believe what? Believe that man is made in the image of God; believe that man, in his idealistic and scientific outreaching, is only thinking God’s thoughts after Him. Believe that God works through human agents to accomplish his purposes and, therefore, God’s illimitable power flows through each one of us to heal and to bless.
As the world moves forward on the feet of youth, I believe that all of us should give leadership and
support to character-building organizations, such as the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Young Women’s Christian Association, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and many others. I do believe that there is a meaning to man’s journey on this Earth, and so my religious belief enables me to stretch out my hand to an unseen hand in this great mystery called life. For I am confident that someone is trying to tell me something and to make me understand.
That was Frank M. Totton, a New York banker, a humble and sincere man who believes there is a way out of darkness.