Finding Security in Fundamental Freedoms
Smith, Margaret Chase, 1897-1995
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Mrs. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine is the only woman elected to the United States Senate. Her distinguished political career began when she was elected to the House of Representatives to fill her late husband's unexpired term. In 1948, she advanced from the lower house to the Senate. She has become one of the most active and responsible legislators in Washington. Here now is Senator Smith.
Many nights I go home from the office or the Senate floor tired and discouraged. There’s lots of glory and prestige and limelight for a United States Senator that the public sees. But there’s just as much grief
and harassment and discouragement that the public doesn’t see.
Of course, like everyone else, I went into public service and politics with my eyes wide open. I knew that any public official is fair game for slander and smear and carping criticism. I knew that ingratitude was to be expected. I knew that fair weather friends would turn on me when they felt I no longer served their purposes. I knew that I would be called all sorts of names from crook on down. I should have known that chances were good that I would even be accused of being a traitor to my country.
These things I knew. But I never knew how vicious they could get and how deeply they could cut. It is these
things I think of when I’m tired and discouraged — and when I wonder if being a Senator is worth all that I put into it. These are the times when I consider quitting public life and retreating to the comforts and luxury of private life.
But these times have always been the very times when I became all the more convinced that all the sorrow, abuse, harassment and vilification was not too high a price or sacrifice to pay. For it is then that I ask myself, “What am I doing this for?”
I realize that I am doing it because I believe in certain things — things without which life wouldn’t mean much to me.
This I do believe — that life has a real purpose: that God has assigned to each human being a role in life, that each of us has a purposeful task, that our individual roles are all different but that each of us has the same obligation to do the best we can.
I believe that every human being I come in contact with has a right to courtesy and consideration from me. I believe that I should not ask or expect from anyone else that which I am not willing to grant or do myself. I believe that I should be able to take everything that I can dish out. I believe that every living person has the right to criticize constructively, the right honestly to hold unpopular beliefs, the right to protest
orderly, the right of independent thought.
I believe that no one has a right to own our souls except God.
I believe that freedom of speech should not be so abused by some that it is not exercised by others because of fear of smear. But I do believe that we should not permit tolerance to degenerate into indifference. I believe that people should never get so indifferent, cynical and sophisticated that they don’t get shocked into action.
I believe that we should not forget how to disagree agreeably and how to criticize constructively. I believe
with all my heart that we must not become a nation of mental mutes blindly following demagogues. I believe that in our constant search for security we can never gain any peace of mind until we secure our own soul.
And this I do believe above all, especially in my times of greater discouragement, that I must believe — that I must believe in my fellow men, that I must believe in myself, that I must believe in God — if life is to have any meaning.
Those were the personal beliefs of Senator Margaret Chase Smith. They were chosen from the beliefs broadcast in the past two years for inclusion in the new This I Believe book, now at your bookstore.