Competition Is a Sin
Bolitho, Hector, 1897-1974
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Hector Bolitho was born in New Zealand, and as a young man, went to England. He lived for many years in the cloisters of Windsor Castle where he studied and wrote as an unofficial biographer and historian to the royal family. His most recent work was A Century of British Monarchy. Here now are the beliefs of Hector Bolitho.
Before we can know what we believe, we must be solidly aware of the difference between prejudices--inherited or imposed on us from outside--and conviction bread within ourselves through experience. I'm in my mid-fifties--I think it's a good season for adding up.
I know that I have quelled the gregariousness that muddled me so much when I was a boy--I no longer need people with the nervous anxiety that hurries us towards every lighted candle when we're young. I believe that one should learn the difference between being lonely and being alone. And to me, now, the perfect day is the one when I am alone and also idle. I hope, also, that I've conquered the competitive spirit. I believe that it is wrong to wish to be one-up on the Joneses, and that it's a sin to plant this notion in the minds of the young.
Children are taught that they must do something. The heroes in their schoolbooks are men of action, not thinkers. And children are haunted by too many examinations that prove nothing of their capacity to
think. They, thus, develop a false sense of the value of action, as opposed to the value of thought and of motives. There's too much adulation for the man who swims the channel and not enough for the man who sits on the beach and contemplates the waters before him. Modern education is riddled with this folly. I believe that history should be re-written for children so that they may comprehend the motives behind action. They should be taught that actions do not speak louder than words if the words are audible expressions of thought.
You've asked me this question, What do I believe?, at a critical time in my life. Up to a month ago, I lived mostly in London, where I had to work very hard with my rather sketchy talent. Then I decided to
change all of my pattern to live more placidly, work less, earn less, and to spend the latter part of my life trying to learn to think. So I came to live in The Close at Salisbury, and I'm writing this at a window--the low autumn sun lighting my pen and my paper. Beyond--Beyond the mown grass, I can see the spire of the cathedral, and the slow, wise bell is calling the people to Even-Song.
Instead of working today, I walked a little, and I read a little. I planted some Geranium cuttings in sand for next year. True, I put off a task I should have done, until tomorrow. But I feel calmer within myself for this idleness, and I believe that I'm right in trying to weave a new pattern in which contemplation is the chief color, and action is only a thread running through.
I believe, also, that man's greatest enemy is fear--not fear in battle but in the moral and ethical issues of day to day life. Yes, fear and selfishness--with which it is curiously intertwined--they're the ultimate foe. And I do not believe that they are conquered by action. I think they're vanquished by meekness, withdrawing into a state of sublime anonymity--and an increasing fire of moral courage within one's own heart. I touch only the fringe of this knowledge, yet. But I believe that I'm right.
Those were the personal beliefs of Hector Bolitho. 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.