The Law of Shared Investment

Overstreet, Bonaro W. (Wilkinson)


  • Bonaro Overstreet talks about her doubt and her one certain belief, that we must all act towards one another with good will and kindness because people are intimately connected and the notion of individuality is a misperception.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. The wife of a philosopher, Bonaro W. Overstreet, is in her own right a poet and an avid student of humanity, as her new psychological book, Understanding Fear, demonstrates. Now she explains her creed.
It surprises me to find in how many areas of life I have doubts and unanswered questions, rather than beliefs. Perhaps I’m saying that I’ve come up to one of my beliefs on the bias—the belief, namely, that human nature does well to keep a number of doubt areas, as areas to grow in. I didn’t always feel this way. As an adolescent, I had beliefs galore and few doubts. Now I have doubts galore
and only a few hardworking beliefs. Most of them, as a matter of fact, reduced to one. I believe that for creatures like ourselves, in a system like ours, the law of shared involvement and reciprocity and goodwill is the only sound law by which to live.
Being physically in and emotionally of this psychological age, this 20th century, I think and speak most comfortably in the language of my own time. So I find it more natural to talk of emotional health and ill health, than of good and evil in man. I find that my concerns cluster more spontaneously around problems of human fulfillment than of human salvation. I believe that such portion of the psychic universe as is housed in me in my person, my self, will be frustrated and distorted to the extent that
I frustrate and distort other lives. I believe that to do to others as I would have them do to me is not simply a law of duty, but a law of health. Where we violate that law, we injure ourselves, inhibit our powers, blunt our sense of reality, condemn ourselves to fear, guilt, and hostility. I believe that the line of psychic demarcation between one and person and another is less clearly and rigidly drawn than we have thought. The separateness of our physical bodies has deceived us. It has given us the notion that we are separate as psychological entities, too, and that we can achieve our full mental and emotional stature by ourselves. I am sure this is not true. I’m sure that the “I” that I now am is most significantly a product of all that has gone on between me and other human beings through all the years
of my living. I do not believe it is possible, except superficially, to think well of ourselves and ill of our human fellows or well of them and ill of ourselves. Our attitude toward ourselves and toward others is one. It is our attitude toward human nature. As an extension of this, I believe the best situations for us to live and grow in are those that are geared to equality—equality of respect, equality of rights. I do not believe we can attain our psychological stature, our real human stature, either by leaning on others or trying to outdo others and get power over them. I am for the level look of equality and the cordial look of friendliness between man and man.
Those were the views of a warm and thoughtful woman, Bonaro W. Overstreet, a wife, poet and
teacher whose own outlook on life is not only level but compassionate and searching. She has a home in both California and Vermont, but she lives wherever she is.