This I Believe

Lea, Joshua M.


  • Joshua Lea describes his beliefs (based on the book of Ecclesiastes) that an afterlife would be a surprise but not an unpleasant one; that humanity is not inherantly sinful, but only its inventions; that liberty is essential to allow individuals to live by their own decisions; and that it is his responsibility to exercise his intellect, curiosity, and reason.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Joshua M. Lea is a businessman. He went into the insurance business with Lloyd's of London. Now he heads his own firm. He describes himself as a bald-headed, bull-headed fellow, whose beliefs were influenced by the economic principles of Lord Keynes. Here now the creed of Mr. Joshua Lea.
The creed that I believe in is one that I have found through the years in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. It is a creed that has helped me put every personal problem in its proper place. Here is the gist of it.
I shall be surprised if there is a life after death but not, I hope, dismayed, for if there proves to be a life after death I’m sure that it will not be less interesting than this life. I am sure, that is to say, that God is not a monster and that vengeance is not His. Nor can I, on the other hand, see any purpose in rewards in heaven. These, I think, are fanciful attempts to redress a fanciful picture of this life. I am utterly convinced, with Ecclesiastes, that God created man upright, but they have sought out many inventions, and I think it time that this great truth should throw its light into every timid corner of our minds. I am sure that we are not inherently sinful; it is the inventions that are sinful.
My most powerful instincts are those of all humanity in seeking the living, and the healthful, and the true. My first rule of life is, therefore, that, in common with all men, I have an inherent capacity for liberty. My second rule is Ecclesiastes’ rule that “A man should walk by the sight of his eyes.” Curiosity and reasoning, and my highest human instincts—and in pursuing them, ideas of vengeance and rewards in heaven—must pass me by.
Observation and, I hope, intelligence have been given me in God’s design, and it is not for me to live the life of a vegetable but to join in the interest and excitement of the world around me. I must live joined to all creation because, as Ecclesiastes asks, “Who knoweth the spirit of man goeth upward and the spirit
of the beast goeth down into the ground?” He denies God who will not acknowledge that this life gives him a world full of interest and challenge, whatever may be his shortcomings, or misfortunes, or bereavements.
My second rule must be that I must live to the full stretch of my curiosity and reasoning. And I must believe that every one of us has been mysteriously given the key to this life. Ecclesiastes presents this truth like a well-cut diamond when he declares, “Also, he has set the world in their heart.” We have each been given the touchstone, deep within us, to tell a green leaf from a gray, the virile from the sterile, and the true from the false. The stream of conscious life is made up of individual consciences. It follows
that every man has an individual instinct and responsibility to promote the right as he sees the right, and condemn the wrong. I can escape individual responsibility in the common business of living only at a definite cost in my own life.
Here, then, is my third rule, which is also nature’s law of human equality: I have an equal responsibility with every other man in the common problems of humanity. To sum up, I must take hold of liberty and accord the same to all men; I must never let go my natural curiosity and reasoning; and I must play my part in human affairs.
That was Mr. Joshua M. Lea, a world traveler, who now commutes between his insurance firm in London and its new branch in Chicago.