This I Believe

Katkov, Norman

  • Norman Katkov describes his belief in the internal struggle between good and evil and his belief that conscience will help a person to overcome that evil.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Norman Katkov is a writer. As a boy in St. Paul, Minnesota, he always wanted to be in the newspaper business. He worked on the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the New York World Telegram. He managed, at the same time, to write fiction, contributing short stories to many leading magazines. In 1948, this young man came out with his first novel, Eagle at My Eyes. Now with his third book, he has branched off into another field of writing in his biography of the late Fanny Brice, called The Fabulous Fanny. Here is the creed of Norman Katkov.
I believe in good, in the noun itself and all that good implies. I believe in it as opposed to evil. Good and evil exist
collaterally in every man. Life begins as a struggle between these two forces, and that struggle continues until life on Earth ends.
I believe each man must come to understand, in his own way and in his own fashion, that the struggle abides, abides relentlessly, and that each man, alone, must choose between good and evil. The scheme of life is the struggle between these two forces, and I believe that goodwill must triumph.
To me, good is the strongest single motivating force in society and civilization. I believe that I cannot endure unless I do, daily, what is good. Quite apart from any question of religious faith, geographic loyalty, political belief, and scientific persuasion,
the absolute need for good is incontrovertible and all embracing. That need is not a test of man on Earth but in a way, the only way of life on Earth.
Mankind has, since it became vertebrate, moved slowly, very, very slowly, toward that world in which goodwill at last triumphed completely. And I believe that tyranny and torture, riot and retribution, war’s waste and war’s wantonness, all the black pages of man’s history are only insulated, unwelcome bivouacs on his inexorable march to a civilization that is good. I think that good as opposed to evil is the more difficult condition to obtain, and I’m speaking now of the arbitrary and absolute good. I believe that good must be arrived at through the will, through the discipline that rejects evil as incompatible with conscience.
I believe, in conscience is the great and noble ally in the struggle against evil, and I am as certain of my conscience as I am of the sun and the stars and the blooming of trees and the southward flight of birds. I believe in conscience more than I believe in myself. I can, and do, doubt myself, hourly and daily. But my conscience is my bellwether.
Conscience follows childhood as the summer follows spring. And I believe that the day finds each of us when we are forced to measure evil against conscience. The day may come in the classroom for the student who must choose between honest failure and dishonest promotion via the stolen glance, the crib sheet, the open book; between good and evil. The day may come at the home’s dinner table
for the son to choose between offering the truth for his neglect of a chore or the lie to camouflage his dereliction; between good and evil. The day may come in his first employer’s shop when circumstance finds him alone, and the cash drawer beckons like the answer to all poverty, and the choice is clear: good or evil.
I believe that each man can deaden conscience with the false entry, the spoken lie, the unpaid debt, the dishonored signature. But I believe that more men will not than will, for I believe that we are, alone in the animal kingdom, blessed with a desire for good that will, whatever the snares and traps and pitfalls of evil, in the end reject it, in turn, in a universal affirmation to good for all time.
That was the writer Norman Katkov, who lives with his bride in St. Paul, but whose author's curiosity roams in many places.