This I Believe

OBrien, Pat


And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Pat O'Brien is a beloved fighting Irishman of American motion pictures. He has appeared in scores of leading roles, including Knute Rockne, the reporter Hildy Johnson in The Front Page, and Fighting Father Dunne. He has been married 23 years and has four children. His real name is William Joseph Patrick O'Brien. Here are his beliefs.
What I believe has been a part of me for so long that I find it rather difficult to put on paper. It’s like trying to tell someone how your blood moves through your body. I believe in a faith which was
taught me by my mother so long ago that I can’t point to a calendar and say, “this was the day.” The wellspring of my belief is my faith in God. I believe that everything we have comes from God—our freewill, our right to save our soul in our own way, our ability to laugh, which distinguishes us from the beasts. I believe that every man was created by God in his image and likeness.
I’ve always prayed. Daily prayer was my lifeline when I came to Hollywood from New York and found myself with a respectable bank balance for the first time. I had to prod myself into some spiritual bookkeeping. Prayers of supplication are as natural as knee reflexes. I had been asking for a long time, and it came easily.
But prayers of thanksgiving are another thing. A full stomach and a warm overcoat are the best insulation against fear. Well, it’s easy for a scared man to pray. It’s the man who is brushed by luck who must remember to pray. During the war, I was privileged to be in an entertainment unit, sent to the battle areas of the Pacific, and we flew over 68,000 miles, stopping at various pinpoints to try and make these kids laugh a little. I’ve never had to remember to pray since then.
Flyers taking us across the hump--over the Himalayan Mountains, that is--in the China-Burma-India theater, they prayed. Ground crews prayed and so did the kids in the rice paddies. They didn’t pray the same way.
For instance, one flyer used to spit in his left flight boot when he suited up to fly the hump. A prayer? Sure it was. As sure as the “Te Deums” rising from a cathedral.
Innate in man is an awareness of his relationship to God as the source of all help when the going is tough. I believe in the right of every man to stand straight. In a world where only a tiny fraction of us can, it behooves us to be aware of our blessings and to pray for less fortunate members of the race of man. Kindness, tolerance, and forgiveness spread. If each man in his small orbit says the kind word and reaches the hand to the fellow who’s down, we’re on our way up, finding the way out.
I’ve been richly blessed in my family. My wife and I have four children, two boys and two girls, and we’re trying to give them the security of our beliefs. We want to send them into the world aware of the fact that they are warmed and led by the love of God, and that they have a responsibility to God, to their fellow man, and to themselves. Yes, it’s a tough world we’re handing over to them, but it’s always been. You know, there’s a penitential psalm called “De profundis”: “Out of the depths I have cried under thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice.” And I-I believe he does.
That was Pat O'Brien, the motion picture star telling his personal beliefs.