Stanley Isaacs talks about his dedication and enthusiasm for politics and civic engagement and expresses how his faith in judaism supports his beliefs in democratic values like liberty and individuality.
And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Rare indeed is the man who enters politics who can preserve his ideals. Happily, Stanley M. Isaacs, member of the City Council of the world’s largest metropolis, New York, is one of these exceptions. Perhaps this is because he believes life has responsibilities as well as privileges. Here now his creed.
I have been more than fortunate throughout my life. The motives and philosophy which have guided me stem from my early upbringing, from a youth spent in a home that had vital contacts with life, and from a long and happy marriage with a most cooperative and encouraging partner. I was able to enjoy the opportunity that I craved: to take part in many varied activities that have taxed my energies, broadened my outlook and stimulated my mind. These included, during the latter years, opportunity for service in elective public office.
My credo has embraced a desire to be of aid to others and to play a part in civic affairs.
This I trace to the example set by my father whom I revered, and to my devotion to Theodore Roosevelt who was my father’s friend. I met T.R. when I was very young. His dynamic personality impressed me immeasurably. I followed his activities closely, watched his course in office, read his addressed, listened to him whenever there was opportunity, admired him like many of my contemporaries, became active in the political arena largely because of his inspiration. I came wholeheartedly to accept his thesis that participation in politics is not only a privilege but a duty.
Another field that has stimulated me has been activity in the social service area, especially in the work of neighborhood and settlement houses with which I have been identified for over fifty years.
This gave me as an invaluable background in knowledge of living and working conditions in my city, and an opportunity to share in the solution of local problems of major importance in the fields of housing and city planning, education, recreation and relief. It was an article of faith with me that a Jew should not only contribute to and work within his own sectarian agency, but that he should become active as well in interfaith and, especially, in non-sectarian work. This stems from my belief in democracy and my respect for people as individuals each and every one, with rights and a dignity of his own.
The maintenance of civil liberties and the protection of minority groups from discrimination have always seemed to me twin pillars of democracy.
They form the basis of sound human relationships and enable each individual to make his maximum contribution to his fellows. Liberty and justice for all is a goal worth fighting for, and I have been glad to share in that battle. Nowadays, unfortunately, popular hysteria tends to support deep-rooted prejudice in its effort to curtail our freedoms, which makes the fight to sustain them all the more vital, as well as more difficult.
My innermost beliefs stem from the fact that I am both an American and a Jew. To me, the American insistence upon individual freedom and equality of opportunity is somehow a matter of deep-rooted, almost religious faith.
As an American citizen I share the conviction that liberty can be preserved only if we are always prepared to fight for it, and that it is worth every sacrifice, no matter how great. This, the creed of America, is as much a part of me as my belief in God. It is the innermost content of what the Jewish prophets preached of old. Accordingly it seems natural to me that a Jew should love America and support its ideas and ideals. What America stands for is really basically part of a Jew’s religious faith.
That was New York City Councilman Stanley M. Isaacs, a national authority in the field of city planning and public housing developments, but more important, perhaps, an authority in the individual business of living and the real meaning of achievement.