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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. Dr. Galen Jones is an official in the Office of Education in the Federal Security Agency. He has had an extensive background for this work: he was a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent of schools over a period of some thirty years. Against this background, Dr. Jones now states his creed.
My basic belief is in the inherent dignity and unique worth of the individual personality. Assuredly, this belief in the sacredness of the individual personality was nurtured in a home where, as a child, I found response to
essential needs, security through understanding and love, encouragement by recognition of personal uniqueness, and new experiences appropriate to sound growth and development. Early, no doubt by reason of family devotions and exposure to the teachings of a minister father, who was at once both simple and profound, there grew naturally a faith in a universal God who made each person a free agent, to be or not to be a person of dignity and worth.
When I was 19, and a junior in college, my father was stricken with what proved to be a fatal illness. During the two weeks prior to his death, it was my privilege to sit with him in the hospital at night. With possible forebodings of the outcomes of his illness, he was concerned with my then consuming interest in the study of philosophy,
and especially in relation to my eventual faith and beliefs. These we discussed as persistently as his failing strength would permit. Finally, a few nights before his passing, he remarked that on some things highly valued by him, we apparently could not agree, but that he wanted me to sense fully his confidence in my integrity. His last words to me are cherished both as a blessing and a guide. They were that each person is responsible, ultimately, for his own choices, his own beliefs, and his own conduct. Thus, I take it, came the core of the faith by which I live.
A lifetime of work with youth has but strengthened my belief that in respect for personality, we find the cornerstone of our American values. In a brief talk, I can mention but a few of the things which this conviction means to me, not
only as an educator, but also as a parent and citizen. It means recognition of the capacity for growth and a feeling of responsibility for helping everyone secure a fair chance to develop and realize his potentialities.
From long companionship with developing youth, I have increasing confidence in the efficacy of freedom. Every time I look at the Statue of Freedom, which crowns the dome of our National Capitol, I am aware that rightly she looks, by day and by night, toward the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. To be free, I believe every person is entitled to justice and to learning.
To me, it is an irrefutable consequence of man’s inherent dignity that authoritarian ways of life can never successfully compete, in the long run, with the way of responsible participation. Free men, by their very character, cannot long be subdued, and in collaboration with other free men will always see to it that their institutions are the servants of the general welfare. Thus the homes, the churches, the free schools, and our representative government together can provide the climate which nurtures self-improvement, the climate which permits man to be true to himself. This I believe.
That was Dr. Galen Jones, a resident of Washington, D.C., and an official of the Federal Security Agency.