This I Believe

White, Gilbert F.


  • Gilbert F. White describes his experiences as a geographer and student of earth's natural laws, and his belief that the divine spark within every person necessitates brotherhood, tolerance, humble service, and a commitment to search for truth.
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And now, This I Believe. The living philosophies of thoughtful men and women presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow
This I Believe. Next to education Gilbert F. White, thirty-nine year old president of Haverford College, considers himself in the water business. For fifteen years he has served the U.S. Government on natural resources and problems. Now his beliefs.
I have studied many streams, from their rushing mountain headwaters to their sluggish tidal mouths; great giants of rivers; tiny tributary brooks; streams flowing from clear springs; streams
disappearing in sandy deserts. In all of them, one finds the same forces of nature at work, making for the slow carving out of valleys and for the enrichment of plants and wildlife.
Everywhere there is a delicate balance among water, soil, plants, and animals. Man can change this moving balance of nature for the good by stabilizing it at new levels and by adding new harmonious elements, as when he stores the water of ephemeral streams to create green oases. Or he can throw it out of balance by selfish or ignorant use of resources, so as to set in motion a vicious chain of destruction, as when he slashes a forest and launches a whole new cycle of soil erosion.
Whether one explores the nearby stream or the mysteries of interstellar space, one finds order and a
sense of divine direction in the physical universe. A biologist in his laboratory learns that there is law of mutual aid, which is dominant in the animal and plant world. Each of us learns for himself in the innermost laboratory of his conscience that there is a law of love among mankind. I believe that this is the law which Jesus preached. This is the law which He lived, supremely.
I believe that each of us finds greatest use and greatest satisfaction in a life which respects and kindles the spark of the divine that is found in the conscience of every other member of the human brotherhood, and which nourishes the harmonious growth of individual men and women. To set the welfare of any national or racial group ahead of the development of individuals, or to coerce individual
expression of thought and worship, is to unloose a destructive erosion of human values to gain the temporary prosperity of a state.
While watching the German occupation of France, I became convinced that man can no more conquer or preserve a civilization by war than he can conquer nature solely by engineering force.
The good life, like the balance of all the complex elements of a river valley, is founded upon friendly adjustment. It changes slowly, but it leads always towards a more fruitful development of individual men in service of each other. It embraces confidence in fellowship, tolerance in outlook, humility in service, and a constant search for the truth. To seek it in our own lives means imperfection and
disappointment but never defeat. It means, I believe, putting ourselves in harmony with the divine order of love, with the great stream of forces that slowly are shaping—in spite of man’s ignorance and selfishness—an enrichment of the human spirit.
That was President Gilbert White, of Haverford College. A student of nature and, we might add, of human beings.