This I Believe

Norton, Nicholas


  • Nicholas Norton describes his belief that beauty is the basic tenant which makes his life feel secure, that religion ought to lead to a feeling of beauty, and that he would be willing to fight and die to prevent oppression and preserve freedom.
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. As any generation matures, there is inevitably a lot of talk that the younger generation is a hopeless loss. Twenty-year-old Nicholas Norton, an undergraduate in English at Haverford College, is a budding citizen whose reflections on life would put many of his elders, including this one, to shame. Here are his beliefs.
I’ve tried, in coming upon my feelings about what makes me secure, to avoid some of the outer things which would make me feel insecure, and go to the things which I really think about most, in the way I live and what makes me feel happy. I have felt that the basic strain that has made me able to be happy and secure in life is beauty.
I have found beauty in every part of my existence: beauty in the scenery around me; beauty in being able to enjoy living in the out of doors; beauty in all the people I have known; beauty in friendship, in love, and in hatred or, perhaps,
rather in the overcoming of hatred. I have been able to be happy through adversity: through the misery of doing wrong and the misery of failure; and through the problems of looking forward to war or to a continual existence of confusion and of antagonizing forces in the world; because I’ve felt that—in my daily life, and in relationships with other people and with the world—there is a happiness and beauty which surmounts the obstacles which are around me, and that one of the greater beauties itself is in finding the cure of obstacles and of unhappiness.
I’ve felt that the greatest beauty is human life and the freedom of human life, the freedom of every life to be expressed in its own abilities and desires. And I will not want to destroy human life, and I will want to defend the freedom of that life. And so, I will recognize and feel strong in the necessity for fighting against any oppression and denial of human freedoms. And I think that I would have to put in, in way of clarification, that this means I would be willing to fight in a war when I felt that the side for which I fought was defending human freedom.
I’ve found beauty in man’s universal ambition to be perfect in happiness, and that I take to be man’s ambition for religion; that man, in looking towards religious feelings and towards God, is looking for perfection. And it has seemed to me that every man looks toward that perfection, and that there is beauty in the fact that man is universal in those ambitions.
I hope that I understand that many people have not found beauty in life, and therefore feel the need for a standardized and secure
religious creed to give them strength. But I hope that somehow, religion may lead men to a strength in the beauty of life itself. I have not been able to believe in an afterlife, but I somehow have a feeling that love is so strong that it cannot die with the body; and that the love of men will live through with those who are left behind and even somehow, unexplainable, it will live on beyond death into…somewhere, in what lies beyond.
That was Nick Norton, a Haverford College junior, whose views on life seem a refreshing rebuttal to skepticism.