This I Believe

Wehle, Louis B. (Louis Brandeis)


  • Louis Wehle describes the concept of spiritual perfection, and while this goal may be unattainable, the pursuit is worthwhile, and this is the only effort that can give true and enduring satisfaction.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Not all law is found in dusty books and argued in the courts. New York attorney Louis Brandeis Wehle, whose legal abilities have been used in the national interest by Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt, is a firm believer in a higher law by which a man’s life must be ruled. Here is his creed.
When I was asked to say publically what I believe, I felt it would be presumptuous of me to do this. Why should thousands who have never heard of me be interested in my inner faith? Then this answer occurred to me: every man and woman who may be a listener has his or her own flame of belief. With some it is steady; with others the flame flickers in the uncertain winds of life. For those of us in the latter class, it may be helpful when someone among us sincerely states his faith, because those who listen are apt to become clearer about their own.
Each religion and philosophy has its own explanation of why we are here and where we are going. Under most of them there runs this common theme:
that there is an unseen goal for mankind; that if we are to approach it, each of us must live up to the height of his powers for self-reliance, self-control and tolerance, and for helping his fellow man. This code can be our inspiring guide, no matter by what religion, philosophy or instinct it may be carried. In the measure that man cleaves to it or departs from it, he seems to have either serenity or unhappiness. Someone may well ask: “why should man strive for a goal he cannot see—that has no material value in terms of the everyday world—that he does not expect, personally, to reach?” Isn’t this the answer? Man finds that none of the worldly objectives for which he spends himself can give him durable satisfaction.
He knows that neither wealth, nor the boast of heraldry, nor the pomp of power could ever reconcile him inwardly to the injustices and hardships he must suffer or must make or see others suffer as the price of those objectives.
I believe we have learned that the goal which would justify our common struggle must be one beyond literal experience or attainment. That it is the dream goal of man’s ultimate perfection. This is what beckons his highest qualities of mind and heart. In other words, it is not an external goal at all, but a spiritual ideal that man has found within himself. He has found it variously in the organized thought of revealed religion, of philosophy and of ethical systems—or his spirit has flown straight for it, like a bird, instinctively and alone, through all the confusions of life.
Human perfection as a goal may be unattainable, but in our pursuit of it I believe there lies the secret of inner peace. It is our faith in it that sustains our will to develop our greatest potentialities. I have no illusions about my own success in acquiring those powers, but for all of us, isn’t the game of pursuing them through thick and thin an abiding adventure of life?
That was Louis B. Wehle, who happens to be a nephew of the late Justice Brandeis and who is, himself, a lawyer and public servant. He was saying “This I believe.”