This I Believe

Johnson, Eric Warner

  • Eric Warner Johnson describes his beliefs in the freedom of conscience, in the brotherhood of humanity, in the importance of living one's faith in practical action, and in the value of speaking the truth, even at personal risk. This episode is a rebroadcast of an earlier airing.
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And now, This I Believe.
2nd Announcer: This broadcast is the repetition of an earlier performance and is being repeated because of the special interest it aroused. Here is Edward R. Murrow as he first introduced the guest.
This I Believe. If we all lived the lessons we were taught in school, the world undoubtedly would be a better, happier place. Eric Warner Johnson is that rare person who does live them. A Harvard graduate, Johnson is now a teacher, the head of Friends Central School in Philadelphia. Listen to his views on life.
My beliefs are conditioned by my being a Quaker, although Quakers have no set creed. As a
matter of fact, they require the individual to determine his beliefs for himself and to act upon them. I am suspicious of authority, except the authority of my own conscience. I respect the conscience of others and I want them to respect mine. I have faith in the truth, known through meditation, experience, and the exercise of logical thought. Each man must find truth for himself. I believe in the continuing revelation of truth to the individual, truth for his own time and his own circumstances.
I believe in the power of goodwill, the power that comes if one dedicates one's life to discovering what the good for someone else may be, and sacrificing oneself to achieving that good. This can be called Christian love; it can be called the Golden Rule. It requires sensitivity, persistence, courage,
and a highly developed imagination--imagination actually to picture the situation of another man, whether he be in Philadelphia, Moscow, or Korea.
I believe in sticking my neck out; that is, I have faith that if one speaks out forthrightly but in a loving spirit and says what one believes to be true, regardless of the consequences, good will result. I have faith in nonviolence. I believe that war is never necessary and will never solve the world's problems. Further, I believe that we should take literally the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." To me, the life of Jesus, on which I attempt, inadequately I admit, to model my own, this life of Jesus was essentially an expression of the power of love, of nonviolence, of the futility of physical force
used in a hateful spirit. I believe that if it becomes necessary to choose between losing one's own life and taking that of another, one should give up one's own. For in Jesus' words, "Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." This goes for nations as well as individuals.
I believe in the brotherhood of man, that all men have a common father, that they have, as the Quakers say, "That of God in them." This God, or good, or divine spark, can be developed and strengthened until it becomes the dominant force in a person's life, if we but surround him with favorable circumstances and treat him in a loving spirit. And the brotherhood of men means all men, not just those on our side.
We should have a sense of personal involvement in the welfare of every individual in the world, no matter where he may live, no matter what his religion, color, or nationality may be. We should truly love our enemies as well as our friends.
I believe that religion should express itself in practical acts, that we must do our part to create the Kingdom of God on Earth today. We cannot wait, secure in our own beliefs and our own comfort, for some miracle to transform the world. We cannot wait until we are perfect, to go out and act. We shall achieve perfection through right action.
Those were the private convictions of Eric Warner Johnson, a 33-year-old Pennsylvania Quaker,
humanitarian and educator, a man who teaches not only from books, but from the heart.