Pondering in Prison
Maners, William Tanner
view transcript only
And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. William Tanner Maners enlisted at 15 in the United States Navy and had 23 years of distinguished service. The termination of this brilliant career was sudden and tragic. In July 1952, while under severe emotional strain, he acted in violence, and a life was destroyed, and he was tried and sentenced to the penitentiary. He is serving his second year of a life sentence. Here now is William T. Maners.
To distinguish between what I believe and what I would like to think I believe is the prelude of distinguishing between the thoughtful and the thoughtless. And between these there can be no compromise. I believe, in the words of Shakespeare, that there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so, and that, we are not the creatures of circumstances, but circumstances are the creatures of ourselves, our thoughts. I began my real thinking in the summer of 1952, while recovering from a self-inflicted wound incurred in a tragedy that took a very close and cherished life. My pondering brought me to see that I exist in the consciousness of my thoughts and beliefs, and that they are my most powerful God-given possessions.
I see that these thoughts and beliefs are my origin and the source of all things gained or lost. They mold my character, affect my health and determine my success or failure. Everything that I do comes from this generating force of thought.
I know this is a power. If I ignore it, I am easily persuaded by what I see or hear. If I believe in the power of my own positive thought, and act on it, I overcome all the hostile influences like fear, anger, selfishness and weakness. For these are not present if not first manifested in my thought.
Paracelsus said that men who are devoid of the power of spiritual perception-what I call thought-are unable to recognize anything that cannot be seen externally. I come into this condition of awareness when I find myself. I am sure I have learned this much, not by intellect or scholarly attainment, but by pondering and, in pondering, discriminating. I discriminated, not between creeds or religions, but between true and false, important and unimportant, right and wrong, selflessness and selfishness.
It is by discriminating that I find I am able to rid my consciousness of the past errors and mistakes in my life, though only as I progress in understanding.
And I also have noted that I cannot progress if I continue to hold these mistakes and errors in my consciousness. What I aspire to is a final understanding of myself and my relationship to God, and I am aware that I have much to learn.
I find I am rewarded by giving, not necessarily material things, but myself, even in giving myself an opportunity of giving to others. In this way I have found an abundance of love, understanding and selflessness among my fellow men.
It helps me in my relations with others to divide them into two groups, those who ponder and those who have not had the occasion to do so, have not yet experienced the compassionate desire to learn.
This classification has given me the best rule of tolerance I have found so far.
Now, in my second year of life imprisonment, I begin to realize how little I have come to comprehend. But I have grown in the faith that with God all things are possible. And I have concluded that neither Heaven or Hell are locations, but are conditions of mind, a state of awareness in which I live. This I have learned and this I believe.
Those were the personal beliefs of William T. Maners. 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.