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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. Mrs. Mary C. Draper is a social worker. A resident of Brooklyn, New York, she has given her time and energy to many community projects. She is a board member of the Brooklyn Bureau of Social Service, the Children's Aid Society, and the Long Island University Hospital. However, her interests are not limited to welfare work alone, for as a board member of the Institute of Arts and Sciences, she has contributed to the cultural life of her town.
Through my experience as a volunteer in social work, I have acquired a firm belief in the dignity and integrity of all individuals. By this I mean that every human being has potentialities for good, and a free choice as to a spiritual well-being. So there is always a hope that he will choose to make his life count toward higher and finer things. If one really believes this, a belief in freedom, equality of opportunity, and tolerance follows naturally.
I believe in the slow progress of civilization toward a better life for everyone.
One has to be an incurable optimist to hold such a belief in our world today: two steps forward and one step backwards seem to be the rule. Waves of disaster break over us, but when they recede, the mark of progress is a little farther up the beach.
I believe that the law of life is change. If the world stands still, it will drift back. Therefore I believe in change, not for its own sake, but because it may be a step toward a better world. I believe that even human nature can be changed. Given proper environment and nourishing food, the impulses of men's nature can be changed from a tendency toward evil to a tendency toward good.
I have seen it happen in my social work experience.
I believe that religion may be a great inspiration toward a spiritual outlook. The soul needs to be fed as well as the body.
Beliefs are only important when they become dynamic. They must become convictions and be acted upon. A belief is the passive acceptance of a fact without personal knowledge. A conviction requires action to prove its truth. The dictionary defines a conviction as a firm belief. It can only be firm if we are willing to stand by it and fight for it. I can take my automobile to the service station, and have it greased, the oil changed, and the brakes checked.
I have thus shown my belief in taking care of my engine. However, if I leave it running idly in front of the house all day, very little has been accomplished.
Progress and the selection of the right changes are not inevitable. It is only when we work hard and sincerely for them that they make any mark on history. My belief in the dignity of my fellow men and in religion do not count for much unless I live them every day. They must become an integral part not only of my thinking but of my actions. These ideas all come from watching the laboratory of social work, which is a modern,
scientific way of loving one's neighbors.
I must not forget that when one group is fighting for its convictions, there are often groups with diametrically opposed ideas fighting against them. It is this conflict that makes life interesting. To quote Hugh Walpole, "I don't know what life is, but it feels like a fight." My final belief is that truth cannot be destroyed and will conquer in the end, and that some day we will have peace and goodwill on Earth.
That was Mrs. Mary C. Draper, a volunteer social worker in Brooklyn, New York. Her beliefs are not only a part of her thinking, but also of her actions.