This I Believe

Melby, Ernest Oscar


  • Ernest Melby talks about his belief in the individuality of people and the need for freedom and liberty in order for people to develop to the greatest potential.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Those who teach must first learn. Dean Ernest O. Melby of New York University School of Education has learned well. A native of Minnesota, he has come to have an almost passionate faith in the so-called “ordinary person,” because, as he says now, he has discovered each one to be anything but ordinary.
I believe each individual human being is unique, precious, and sacred. He is the only entity of his exact kind and quality in the universe. He can think, feel, act, and create as no other human being can think, feel, act, and create. This uniqueness of the individual is the primary reason for a free world. For if we are to make the most of the creative potentialities of all the individual human beings in the world, each must be free to become what he is capable of becoming.
Such a process of becoming is possible only in a free society. But freedom is not merely a negative, merely the absence of external controls; it is positive. Only an individual who loves and is loved can really be free. Only one who receives fully and freely from his fellow men can benefit from his uniqueness and make the most of his freedom.
Similarly, only as he is free to give—in fact, only as he does give in love and understanding to his fellow men—can his own spirit grow and flower.
One is not free when one is cut off from other human beings. One grows in freedom as one increasingly belongs to others, as one develops a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging reaches our immediate circle of family, friends, and associates—to all mankind—as one increasingly sees oneself as identified with humanity as a whole. Finally, all humanity, all nature, reaches a universality in God.
I believe in the power of faith. Great achievements are possible only for those who believe they can be accomplished.
In the same way, the faith of our associates inspires each of us to do our best—in many cases to do more than we, ourselves, think possible. The great teacher is, thus, one who has faith in his pupils, affection for them, understanding of them, and wisdom enough to permit each pupil to be himself. What is true of the teacher is true of leadership in every area of human relationship.
I believe in the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. This brotherhood reaches its finest expression in a vital community in which all can share and contribute without limitation because of race, color, creed, or social status. As an educator, I must necessarily project my private beliefs to embrace the broader patterns of community life. As an individual, I reject communism and fascism and all extremes,
including excessive centralization of power, whether in government, business, labor, or education.
I believe that free individuals are more important than any system. Therefore, to me, the purpose of all political, social, and educational administration must be to give citizens freedom for creative living and effective group action. Since I believe we can build a society in America and in the world which is based on freedom, faith, love, understanding, and human brotherhood, I have confidence in the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
Murrow: That was Professor Ernest O. Melby of New York University revealing a mature philosophy which strikes me as particularly human in this materialistic world.