This I Believe

Starr, Floyd Elliot


  • Floyd Starr, the founder of Starr Commonwealth for Boys, talks about his belief in the power of love and his faith in the goodness of all people and how his work with boys has affirmed his beliefs.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Forty years ago Floyd Starr, just three years out of college, took over an old barn and forty acres of land. With these and his boundless faith in youth as his only assets, he founded the Starr Commonwealth for Boys, a private agency for youngsters with emotional and social problems. In the years which have followed, this project has grown until today it has three branches and has served a total of more than three thousand boys. But the personal quality of Floyd Starr’s relationship with the boys has never changed, and it is this which gives the Commonwealth its distinctive character. Here is his creed.
Examining my beliefs set me to scrutinizing my heritage. My parents made God real to me as a creator who saw everything He had made and called it good. So when I wrote the creed of Starr Commonwealth in 1913, it began, “There is no such thing as a bad boy.” Today, I believe in the inherent goodness of all people. I am convinced that the eventual coming of universal brotherhood is a natural corollary.
My mother taught me to find beauty in the endless colors and patterns of creation. She read aloud the Sermon on the Mount. Even before I understood its meaning, its majesty and music made me happy and certain.
I had a powerful friend who left me the rules of the road, so I needn’t be afraid. If love is the greatest thing in the world, it can conquer all lesser forces, I reasoned.
How often since, I have seen the healing these assurances have brought to lonely, disturbed boys with whom I’ve worked for four decades. I was told that an American boy could accomplish whatever he desired if he worked hard, stuck to it, and did some contriving, especially if he kept the good of others in mind.
My mother was Dutch—loving but uncompromising. “It is good to do hard things,” she said. “Overcoming builds strength and brings satisfaction. Next time, the job is easier. Play is important, too. But if you love the doing, the line between is thin.”
I’m a firm believer that conviction translated into performance is convincing proof of one’s premise. I believe the place to begin is the nearest need; the time, now; the motive, service; the method, cooperation.
I believe that there is no limit to the appreciations one can cultivate, each making its contribution to the exciting business of living. Then suddenly—as if a great light played on something that had been there all the time—I recalled the words, the good of others. I believe implicitly in youth, in its infinite promise, its malleability, and its longing to be good if shown how. To such children, the love of God is just another step.
I believe much is learned from failure, for failure—though rough and delaying—is merely a detour that portends a safer and more direct highway. I believe that sorrow deepens understanding—I can better say, I know. I believe in happiness, a byproduct of that inner peace, which is won through faith, prayer, trial and error, and the single sighted compass of altruistic intent.
That was Floyd Starr, founder and president of the Starr Commonwealth for Boys. Thousands of its graduates know him better as Uncle Floyd.