A Friend Fights
Douglas, Paul H. (Paul Howard)
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Senator Paul H. Douglas was a scholarly Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Chicago, when he surprised politicians by being elected City Alderman. In World War II, he was fifty years old when he enlisted as a private in the Marine Corps, was wounded on Okinawa, and was decorated for heroism. Here are the personal beliefs of Senator Paul Douglas.
Like others, I am continually forced to make decisions as to how much I should rely upon the forces of love and good-will which are in the world and deep within men, and how much I should seek to
protect both myself and the nation from the malicious who seek to injure and to maim.
I was in my twenties when, upon reading the journal of John Woolman, the Quaker tailor of the eighteenth century, I first felt intensely the power of active good-will to awaken similar motives in others and to transform hatred into love. This led me to a fresh appreciation of the real meaning of Jesus’ life and works and to deeper admiration for such noble spirits as St. Francis of Assisi, Tolstoi, and our own Jane Addams. The task of Christians seemed to be to transform the world by personal deeds and spirit into a fellowship of friends. That still seems true to me.
But as I saw at first hand Lenin and Stalin, and then Hitler and Mussolini, try to take over the world, I could not believe that these principles would of themselves melt the hearts of either the communists or the Nazis, or alter the policies of their governments. For the rulers of those countries prevented any effective appeal by others to the better natures of their peoples and by their control of the schools, press, radio, armies and secret police, shaped men’s thinking in hostile ways. To turn the other cheek was interpreted by them as a sure sign of weakness, and yielding brought the danger ever closer.
When the attack finally came upon a country, the vast majority of those who had previously put their faith in good-will would resist, but since their resistance would be belated, it would be ineffective.
Only the saints would practice the doctrines of Matthew Chapters 5-7, and these by definition would be few. A glacier of tyranny would descend upon us and the free world which might not melt for centuries or millennia. Seeing all this, I decided that one must resist with the weapons of the flesh this onsweep of tyranny, and when the time came, I tried to do so in an appropriate manner. Now the same principle is increasingly involved in the attempt of the communists to take over the world. Their tyranny is just as bad as was that of the Nazis, and is indeed more hypocritical.
I believe forcible resistance to their aggression is as necessary now as it was in the case of the Nazis, fifteen years ago.
Does this mean then that the hope of a fellowship of friends bound together by mutual trust and affection must vanish and be replaced by brutal struggle? That would be a terrible prospect. Rather, to my mind, it intensifies the need for us to practice loving kindness within the family, the community, our country and the whole free world. Indeed, while we resist the aggression of the communist world, we should not hate the people over whom the communist hierarchy rules, but should rather be charitable and understanding in our judgments. We should, in fact, feel friendly towards them and seek their ultimate good. Thus we
should not let our use of the weapons of the flesh destroy our faith in and practice of the reconciling influences of active goodwill.
The same principle should apply in politics. The only Christian way is to regard one’s immediate opponents as being basically potential friends, and to treat them with dignity and respect so that men may seek a common way for dealing with the political issues of our time.
Those were the personal beliefs of Senator Paul Douglas. 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.