Action Is The Measure

Swing, Raymond

  • Raymond Swing, an editor for "This I Believe," describes how the realization that most of his troubles were caused by ignorance led him to become more tolerant of others, and states his beliefs in his participation in the "All-Wisdom" of God, in his responsibility to change himself, and in the importance of extending to others the love and freedom which he desires for himself. Contains a short ... read more
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. My guest today is Raymond Swing, my old and close friend, who is editor of the This I Believe program. Mr. Swing, a veteran of American journalism and radio, originated the American commentary for the BBC and gave it for 11 years. For two years he was chief political commentator of the Voice of America. Here now is Ray Swing.
I used to think I was especially unfortunate. I had more trouble, inwardly and outwardly, than others I knew. Then I spent a long time studying my troubles and their origins. I came to see that every one of my troubles arose out of something I had done myself. Nobody else was to blame for the start of any trouble. I also found that in each instance my original mistake was not one of willful wrongdoing. It was the result of not knowing well enough what was right. That is, I had to suffer not because I was bad at the start of a trouble, but because I wasn’t good enough. I say “at the start of a trouble” because, as a trouble developed, I sometimes did do what I knew was wrong.
But because I knew, the experience of wrongdoing could become part of my education in doing more right. When at last I learned what had been inadequate at the start of a trouble, that particular trouble ended, along with any wrongdoing it had engendered.
So I came to believe that my failures were basically due to ignorance. I had done the best I knew how to do. And I stopped chiding myself. But to be consistent I had to stop chiding others too. The other fellow also was doing the best he knew how to do. When he was in trouble, I had some inkling of what he was going through.
You can see this is a belief in a process that is governed by law and is beneficent. Call the process growing into truth. I believe it is what I am here to do.
I have become aware that there is an inconceivable wisdom that governs all things right down to me and less than me. Because I can become more and more part of it, I see that I have in me a potential of the All-Wisdom. But I also am aware that my part is infinitesimally minute. Some of my troubles come from not knowing at the right time my own importance as part of the Godhood, and at the right time my own insignificance. When I work for truth, when I love and serve others and try to make them free, I am exercising my little portion of the All-Wisdom. When I get obsessed with my success, or with what I am getting out of something, and what others are doing to me, I am getting bigger than my size.
I came to see that what I didn’t like in others was also in me, which is how I was able to recognize it. So I could stop trying to change others and go to work on myself. I am the one person I can do something about and am responsible for.
I also came to see that the love and freedom I want for myself are to be tested by the love and freedom I give others. I show what I value by what I give. So in my book, action is the measure of belief. If I hold a belief and do something about it, I begin to grow out of myself and into the fellowship of man and the fellowship that transcends the understanding of man.
I believe that happiness and suffering are the two sides of the coin of growth into truth. I believe the process is the tragedy of creation itself, and while pain is one side, the two together are merciful, and this is the beauty that underlies all living.
Those were the personal beliefs of Raymond Swing. They were chosen from the beliefs broadcast in the past two years for inclusion in the new This I Believe Book, now at your bookstore.