Friendship Is a Passport

Bryan, Julien Hequembourg


  • Julien Bryan describes his early religious beliefs and the transformation, as a result of his experiences in WWI and filmaking, that led him to his belief in the common goodness of all people around the world.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. The world is full of tangible things: the ground we walk on, the houses we live in, the hard earned coin we exchange for food. Julien Bryan is a movie producer, or better said, an artist who catches on celluloid the dimensional documentary stories of our global neighbors and ourselves: the customs of a nomadic tribe in Saudi Arabia, and the lives of the mountain folk of Tennessee. There are some things, though, that you can’t photographic, however sensitive the film. It is of these vital intangibles that Julien Bryan speaks now.
As a little boy, I believed devoutly in a very personal God who listened to my every word
and took a very personal interest in all of my activities. I actually talked to Him a great deal. He was a God of love, but He was also a God of fierce and rapid justice. I felt as though His eyes were on me all the time.
I was raised a Protestant, and, as I look back, I can see that somewhere along the line I learned to be suspicious of and condescending to all other sects. Then, at 17, during the First World War, I joined the ambulance service of the French Army and served for six months at Verdun. My friends were simple French soldiers. With one or two exceptions, they were all Roman Catholics. I went to Mass with them, carried them when wounded, saw them die. And I came to like them as people, to admire their courage, to
respect their right to their faith, which was so different from my own.
Twenty years ago, I began to make films about people all over the world. I took them as I found them — not as I wanted them to be. Wherever I went, I soon discovered that when you break bread with people and share their troubles and joys, the barriers of language, of politics, and of religion soon vanish. I liked them, and they liked me. That was all that mattered.
I came to find that the peoples of this world have much more in common with one another than they have differences. I have found this true wherever I have gone — even in Moscow and the far reaches of Siberia. The most hardened Communist would eventually break down if you were kind to his children.
This was true even though he knew that he might be arrested the next day for becoming friendly with a foreigner.
As far as for the common man in Russia, my belief is that in spite of 34 years of Stalin and regimented thought-control, he still loves his land and his church and his family. And he hates the cruelty of the secret police and the incredible stupidity of the Soviet bureaucrats. In fact, I believe that in a fundamental way he is very much like us; he wants to live his own life — and be let alone.
All over the world I have watched the great religions in practice: Buddhist monks at their devotions in Manchuria; Shinto priests in their temples in Japan; and only last autumn, the brave and hardy Serbian
Muslims at their worship in Tito’s Yugoslavia. I have come to hold a deep respect for all of man’s great religions. And I have come to believe that despite their differences, all men can worship side by side.
For myself, I believe in people — and in their given right to enjoy the freedoms we so cherish in America. I believe in justice and knowledge and decent human values. I believe in each man’s right to a job and food and shelter. And I sincerely believe that one day all of these things will come to pass.
My real faith, then, is a dream that in spite of daily headlines prophesying man’s destruction, we can build a better world, a world of peace and human brotherhood. Yes, even in our lifetime! This is my faith and my dream. In my small way, I want to have a share in making it come about.
That was film producer Julien Bryan, whose observations, sharp as his camera’s eye in London, Belgrade, Baghdad, and around the world, convince him that people, despite their differences, can learn to live together.